File spoon-archives/bourdieu.archive/bourdieu_2000/bourdieu.0012, message 7


Subject: Re: PB in London 6 December
Date: Wed, 20 Dec 2000 09:14:05 +0530


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Hello! I am a subscriber, I am attaching the text of the lecture - hope it
is what you are looking for, I downloaded it and promptly lost the link!!
yasmeen.
----- Original Message -----
From: Peter Gates <peter.gates-AT-nottingham.ac.uk>
To: <bourdieu-AT-lists.village.virginia.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, December 20, 2000 4:48 AM
Subject: Re: PB in London 6 December


> I am sorry I seem to have lost the place where I can read the content of
> the lecture can anyone help me out?
>
>
> At 03:33 12/12/00 +0900, you wrote:
> >Le Mon, Dec 11, 2000 a 09:30:44AM -0000, Richard Nice a ecrit:
> >> Anyone who wishes to read what Bourdieu said in his London lecture (on
> >> presentation of the Huxley medal) will find it at
> >
> >what about his tokyo lectures in october ? anybody knows ?
> >
> >jc helary
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> Best wishes,
> Peter
>
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HTML VERSION:

name="huxley.htm" filename="huxley.htm"

Participant objectivation

I hardly need to tell you how delighted, proud and honoured I am to receive such a prestigious mark of recognition as the Huxley Medal and, so to speak, to enter the Pantheon of anthropology made up of the list of past recipients. On the basis of the authority that you bestow on me in this way, I should like, rather in the manner of an old sorcerer passing on his secrets, to offer a technique, a method or, more modestly, a "device" that has been of great service to me throughout my experience as a researcher: it is what I call participant objectivation. I do indeed mean participant objectivation and not participant observation, as people usually say. Participant observation as I understand it refers to the behaviour of an ethnologist who immerses himself in an unfamiliar social universe so as to observe it, or who observes an activity, a ritual or a dance, while taking part in it. People often emphasize the difficulty of such a posture, which presupposes a kind of doubling of consciousness that is difficult to sustain. How can one be both subject and object, someone who acts and someone who, in a sense, watches himself acting? What is certain is that people are undoubtedly right to cast doubt on the possibility of truly participating in unfamiliar practices, embedded in the tradition of a different society, and, as such, presupposing a learning process different from the one of which the observer and his dispositions are the product; and therefore a quite different way of being and of living through the experiences in which he wants to participate.

By participant objectivation, I mean the objectivation of the subject of objectivation, of the analysing subject, in a word, of the researcher himself. This might suggest that I am referring to the practice that was made fashionable, a few years ago, by certain anthropologists, especially on the other side of the Atlantic =97 the practice of observing oneself observing, of observing the observer in his work of observing or of transcribing his observations, in and through a return to experience of fieldwork, to the relationship to the informants, and, last but not least, to the account of these experiences, which very often leads to the somewhat crippling conclusion that it is all, ultimately, never anything more than an account, text, or, worse, a pretext for text.

It will have become clear that I have little sympathy for what Geerz calls "the diary disease", an explosion of narcissism sometimes verging on exhibitionism, which followed long years of positivist repression: reflexivity as I understand it does not have much in common with "textual reflexivity" and with all the spuriously sophisticated considerations on the "hermeneutic process of cultural interpretation" and the construction of reality through ethnographic recording. Indeed, it is opposed at every point to the observation of the observer which, as in Marcus and Fisher or Rosaldo, or even in Geerz, tends to substitute the facile delights of self-exploration for confrontation with the gritty realities of fieldwork. This pseudo-radical denunciation of ethnographic writing as "poetics and politics" as Clifford and Marcus=92s title puts it, inevitably leads to the "interpretive scepticism" to which Woolgar refers.

But equally it is not sufficient to make explicit the "lived experience" of the knowing subject, as Alvin Gouldner would have it, in other words the biographical particularities of the researcher or the Zeitgeist that inspires his work (like the same Gouldner when discussing Talcott Parsons in The Coming Crisis of Western Sociology); or again, as the ethnomethodologists do, to bring to light the folk theories that agents invest in their practices. For not only can science not be reduced to the recording and analysis of the "prenotions" (in Durkheim=92s sense) that social agents engage in the construction of social reality; in addition, it must not ignore the social conditions of the production of these pre-constructions and of the social agents who produce them.

In short, it is not a question of choosing between participant observation, a necessarily fictitious immersion in an unfamiliar milieu, and the objectivism of the "distant gaze" of an observer who remains as remote from himself as from his object. Participant objectivation undertakes to explore not the "lived experience" of the knowing subject, but the social conditions of possibility (and therefore the effects and the limits) of that experience and, more precisely, of the act of objectivation. It aims at an objectivation of the subjective relation to the object, which, far from leading to a relativistic and more or less anti-scientific subjectivism, is one of the conditions of scientific objectivity.

For what needs to be objectivated is not the anthropologist performing the anthropological analysis of an unfamiliar world, but the social world that has made both the anthropologist and the conscious or unconscious anthropology that he engages in his anthropological practice =97 not only his social origins, his position and trajectory in the social space, his social and religious positions and beliefs, but also, and more importantly, his particular position within the world of anthropologists. It is indeed scientifically attested that his most decisive scientific choices depend very closely on the position he occupies within his own professional universe, in what I call the anthropological field, with its national traditions and particularities, its habits of thought, its obligatory problematics, its shared beliefs and self-evidences, its rituals, values and consecrations, its constraints as regards the publication of findings, its specific censorships, and, by the same token, the biases embedded in the organisational structure of the discipline, that is to say, in the collective history of the specialism, and all the unconscious presuppositions inherent in the (national) categories of scientific understanding.

The properties that are brought to light by this reflexive analysis, which is quite the opposite of a self-indulgent, intimist return to the singular, private person of the anthropologist, have nothing singular, still less anything extraordinary about them, and, as they are largely common to whole categories of researchers (as graduates of the same school or the same university), they are not very "exciting" to na=EFve curiosity. (Here one might echo Wittgenstein: "What we are supplying are really remarks on the natural history of human beings; we are not contributing curiosities however, but observations which no one has doubted, but which have escaped remark only because they are always before our eyes." - Philosophical Investigations, =A7415). And above all, the fact of discovering these properties and making them public often appears as a sacrilegious transgression in as much as it calls into question the charismatic representation that cultural producers have of themselves and their propensity to see themselves as free of all cultural determinations.

And so that is why Homo Academicus is probably the most controversial, the most =91scandalous=92 book I have written, despite its extreme concern for objectivity. For it objectivates those who normally objectivate; it unveils and divulges, by a transgression that can be seen as treason, the objective structures of a social microcosm to which the researcher himself belongs, that is to say the structures of the space of the positions that determine the academic and political position-takings of the academics of the University of Paris, those, for example, which, at the time of the survey, defined the opposition between Roland Barthes and Raymond Picard, in other words between a "literary semiology" that was perceived as avant-garde and traditional literary history, in the style of Lanson. And one can even take a bit further the violence of participant objectivation, with one of my students, Charles Soulié, who has shown for example that research topics =96 the subjects of dissertations and doctoral theses, and so on =96 in philosophy and sociology (and no doubt also in anthropology) =97 are statistically related to social origin and trajectory, to gender and above all to educational trajectory. This means that our seemingly most personal choices, the most intimate and therefore most cherished ones, our choice of discipline and of our favoured subjects, economic anthropology or kinship, of our theoretical and methodological orientations, have their origin in socially constituted dispositions in which banally social, sadly impersonal properties still express themselves, in a more or less transfigured form.

It will have been noticed that, in speaking of participant objectivation, I have moved, without seeming to do so, from anthropology to sociology, and, more precisely, to the sociology of the academic institution as I approached it in Homo Academicus. It hardly needs to be said that the French university is, in this case, only the apparent object, and that what really has to be apprehended is the subject of the objectivation, in this instance myself, his position in that relatively autonomous social space, the academic world, with its rules, irreducible to those of the surrounding world, and his singular point of view. But people forget or ignore the fact that a point of view is, strictly, only a view taken from a point which cannot reveal itself as such, and deliver its truth as a point of view, a particular and ultimately unique point of view, unless one is capable of reconstructing the space, understood as the set of coexisting points (as Strawson might put it), in which it is inserted.

And to give a sense of what is so unusual, or upsetting, under its appearances of banality, about the upset that consists in taking a point of view on one=92s own point of view, and, therefore, on the whole set of points of view in relation to which it defines itself as a point of view, I would simply like to remind you of a story by David Garnett, A Man in the Zoo, which I often think of in relation to the procedure I adopted in Homo Academicus: as you know, it tells the story of a young man who quarrels with his girlfriend during a visit to a zoo and, in despair, writes to the director of the zoo to offer him a mammal that is missing from his collection, man, in other words himself. He is put in a cage, alongside the chimpanzee, with a label saying: "Homo Sapiens. Man. This specimen was presented by John Cromartie, Esq. Visitors are requested not to irritate the Man by personal remarks." I should have put a similar warning at the front of Homo Academicus, in order to avoid at least some of the not always very kind "personal remarks" that it brought upon me=85

The reflexivity that participant objectivation leads to is clearly not at all the same as that normally practised by "post-modern" anthropologists or even philosophy and some forms of phenomenology. It applies to the knowing subject the most brutally objectivist tools that anthropology and sociology provide, in particular, statistical analysis (which is tacitly excluded from the panoply of anthropological weapons); and it aims, as I have said, to grasp everything that the thinking of the anthropologist (or sociologist) may owe to the fact that that he is inserted in a scientific field, with its traditions, habits of thought, problematics, shared self-evidences, and so on, and to the fact that he occupies a particular position (that of the newcomer who has to prove himself, or that of the consecrated master, etc.), with "interests" of a particular kind (which may unconsciously orient his scientific choices, the choice of discipline itself, or, more precisely, the choice of this or that method -- qualitative or quantitative for example =96 or this or that object).

In short, scientific objectivation is not complete unless it includes objectivation of the subject who performs it =96 which means not only objectivation of the point of view from which he performs it and the interests he may have in objectivation (especially when he objectivates his own universe), but also objectivation of the historical unconscious (or "transcendental") that he inevitably engages in his work. By historical, and more precisely academic, unconscious (or transcendental) I mean the set of cognitive structures which, in this historical transcendental, can be attributed to specifically educational experiences and which is therefore to a large extent common to all the products of the same (national) educational system, or, in a more specified form, to all the members of the same discipline. It is what explains why, beyond the differences, linked in particular to the disciplines, and in spite of the competition between them, the set of products of a national education system present a set of common dispositions, often attributed to a "national character", which means that they can understand each other with a nod and a wink, and that many things go without saying for them which are not the least essential, such as what, at a given moment, does or does not merit discussion, what is important and interesting (a "good subject" or, or the contrary, a "banal" or "trivial" idea or theme).

To take as one=92s project the exploration of this academic unconscious (or transcendental) is nothing other than in a sense to turn anthropology against itself and to engage the most remarkable theoretical and methodological discoveries of anthropology in reflexive analysis of the anthropologists themselves. (I have always regretted that those responsible for the most extraordinary advances of cognitive anthropology =96 I am thinking of Durkheim and Mauss analysing the "primitive forms of classification", or Lévi-Strauss dismantling the mechanisms of the "savage mind"=97never, or hardly ever (with the exception of Durkheim=92s The Evolution of Schooling in France and some remarkable programmatic remarks by Maurice Halbwachs) [that they never] applied to their own universe some of the scientific insights that they provided about societies remote in space and time. (Since I have mentioned Durkheim and Mauss, I will take the opportunity to recall that they explicitly aimed to implement in their research the Kantian programme of knowledge of knowledge which I have myself evoked when speaking of the "academic transcendental". This reminder seems to me all the more useful, or necessary, since, among the many obstacles to understanding between "continental" anthropologists and sociologists and their English-speaking colleagues, one of the most daunting seems to me to be, on this precise point, the gulf between the research "programmes" that each side owes to its immersion in very profoundly different academic and philosophical traditions and to the academic unconscious =96 or transcendental =96 that they have thus acquired).

I was endeavouring to carry out such a programme of reflexive cognitive anthropology when I sought for example to objectivate the "categories of professorial understanding" (in its French form), on the basis of a corpus made up of cards on which a teacher of French had recorded the grades and assessments he had awarded over a whole school year, to the whole set of his pupils characterised by their age and sex and the occupation of their parents. With the aid of a technique adapted from graphic semiology, I was able to bring to light the unconscious classificatory schemes, or principles of vision and division, that French teachers (but no doubt also British teachers, or those of any other country) unwittingly implement in their operations of classification and evaluation, proceeding no differently than African natives or Pacific islanders do when they classify plants or diseases. This was based on the hypothesis that classificatory schemes analogous to the forms of classification or the cognitive structures which, as Durkheim, Mauss or Lévi-Strauss showed, structure "primitive" or "savage" thought, are also present, in just as unconscious a state, in learned thought, and, that, unless they are especially vigilant, anthropologists and sociologists themselves implement them in many of their everyday judgements -- where, as Wittgenstein pointed out, judgements are often reduced to adjectives -- or in matters of gastronomy, and even about their colleagues=92 work, or the colleagues themselves =96 I am thinking in particular of oppositions such as brilliant/serious, superficial/deep, heavy/light, and so on. And it is likely that you will draw on similar classificatory dichotomies to perceive and appreciate, positively or negatively, what I am saying to you at this very moment.

It begins to become clear, or so I hope, that objectivation of the subject of objectivation is not a simple narcissistic diversion, nor even a pure effect of some kind of quite gratuitous epistemological point of honour, and that it has some entirely real scientific effects. Not only because it can lead to the discovery of all kinds of "perversions" linked to the position occupied in the scientific space, such as the spurious theoretical breaks that are more or less noisily announced from time to time by some young ethnologists in a hurry to make a name for themselves (especially when suffering from the effects of what my friend E. P. Thompson used to call "French flu"); or that kind of fossilisation of research and even thought that can arise from enclosure in an academic tradition perpetuated by the logic of the self-reproduction of the university. But, more profoundly, it makes it possible to apply a constant critical vigilance to all the "first movements" (as the Stoics put it) of thought, through which the unthought that is associated with an epoch, a society, a state of a (national) anthropological field, can smuggle themselves into the work of thought, and against which warnings against ethnocentrism do not give sufficient protection. I am thinking in particular of what might be called Frazer=92s and Lévy-Bruhl=92s error, which consists in creating an insurmountable distance between the anthropologist and those he takes as his object, between his thought and "primitive thought", because he has not been able to distance his native thought and practice by objectifying it.

The ethnologist who does not know himself, who does not have an adequate knowledge of his own primary experience of the world, puts the primitive at a distance, because he does not recognize the primitive, the prelogical thought, within himself. Having a scholastic, and therefore intellectualist vision of his own practice, he cannot recognize the universal logic of practice in modes of thought and action (magical ones, for example) which he describes as pre-logical or primitive. And here, in addition to all the examples of misunderstandings of the logic of practices which I analyse in Outline of a Theory of Practice, I could invoke the remarks of Wittgenstein, who, in his Remarks on The Golden Bough, suggests that it is because Frazer does not know himself that he is unable to recognize in certain so-called primitive behaviour the equivalent of the behaviour in which he (like all of us) indulges in similar circumstances: "When I am furious about something, I sometimes strike my stick against the ground or against a tree, etc. But I do not believe, all the same, that the ground is responsible or that it helps to hit it. =91I=92m letting out my anger.=92 And all rites are of that kind. One can call such actions instinctive =96 and a historical explanation, which says for example that I once believed, or that my ancestors once believed, that beating the ground is of some help to anything=85 these are fakes, because they are superfluous hypotheses that explain nothing. What is important is the similarity of this act of punishment, but there is nothing to note beyond that similarity. Once a phenomenon of this kind is brought into relationship with an instinct that I myself possess, that is precisely what constitutes the explanation that is wanted, in other words the explanation that resolves that particular difficulty. And a deeper study of the history of my instinct then takes other paths." And Wittgenstein is perhaps even closer to the truth when, again referring, but tacitly this time, to his own personal experience =96 which he assumes to be shared by his reader =96 he evokes some so-called primitive behaviours which, like our own in similar circumstances, might have no other purpose than themselves or the "satisfaction" of performing them and which they give to the person who performs them: "Burning in effigy. Kissing the picture of a loved one. This is obviously not based on a belief that it will have a definite effect on the object which the picture represents. It aims at some satisfaction and it achieves it. Or rather, it does not aim at anything; we act in this way and then feel satisfied." One only has to have once performed one of the psychologically necessary but totally desperate acts that one performs on the grave of a beloved person to know that Wittgenstein is right to repudiate the very question of the function and even the meaning and intention of certain ritual or religious acts. And he is also right to say that "Frazer is much more savage than most of his savages," because, for lack of an "inward knowledge" of his own spiritual experience, he does not understand that he understands nothing about the spiritual experiences that he persists in trying to understand. And, lastly, from among a thousand that I might have chosen, this remark of Wittgesntein=92s about the custom of "completely shaving the bodies of those accused of witchcraft": "There is no doubt that a disfigurement that makes us seem unworthy or ridiculous in our own eyes can strip us of all will to defend ourselves. What embarrassment we sometimes feel =96 or at least many people (me) =96 on account of our physical or aesthetic inferiority." This almost confessional reference to the singular, private self of the analyst is the very opposite of some of the narcissistic confessions of the apostles of post-modern reflexivity, and, in its extreme simplicity, it has the outstanding merit of sweeping away the screen of false explanations projected by the ethnologist who is ignorant of himself, and of bringing unfamiliar experiences closer by making it possible to understand what is both familiar and profound about them.

It follows that while the critique of ethnocentrism (or anachronism) is, at a first level, justified as a warning against unjustified projection of the knowing subject into the known object, it may, at another level, prevent the anthropologist (or the sociologist or the historian) from making rational use of his native =96 but previously objectivated, analysed =96 experience in order to understand and analyse other people=92s experiences. In my view, nothing is more false than the maxim universally accepted in the social sciences that the researcher must put nothing of himself into his research. On the contrary, he should constantly refer to his own experience, but not, as is sometimes the case, even among the best researchers, in a guilty, unconscious or uncontrolled way. Whether I want to understand a Kabyle woman or a Béarnais peasant, an Algerian migrant worker or an office worker, a schoolteacher or a French employer, a writer like Flaubert, a painter like Manet or a philosopher like Heidegger, the most difficult thing, paradoxically, is never to forget that they are all people like me, at least in as much as, in relation to their action =96 performing an inaugural rite, following a funeral procession, negotiating a contract, painting a picture, taking part in an academic ritual, making a public speech, attending a birthday party -- they are not in the position of an observer; and that it can be said that, strictly speaking, they do not know and do not want to know what they are doing (at least in the sense in which I, as an observer and analyst, am trying to know it). They do not have in their heads the scientific truth of their practice which I am trying to extract from observation of their practice. Moreover, they never normally ask themselves the questions that I shall certainly ask myself if I act towards them as an anthropologist: Why such a ceremony? Why the candles? Why the cake? Why the presents? Why these invitations and these guests? etc.

The most difficult thing, therefore, is not so much to understand them (which in itself is not simple) as to avoid forgetting something that I know perfectly well, but only in practice, namely that they do not at all have the project of understanding and explaining which I have as a researcher; and, consequently, to avoid putting, as it were, into their heads the problematic that I construct about them and the theory that I construct to answer it. Thus, just as --because he does not know how to take possession of the truth of his ordinary experience of his own ordinary or extraordinary practices by putting himself in a sense at a distance from himself -- the Frazerian ethnologist will set up an insurmountable distance between his experience and that of his object, so too, because they do not know how to break with the unthought presuppositions of academic thought, in other words to rid themselves of the scholastic bias, the sociologist and economist who cannot appropriate their pre-reflexive experience will put the mental activity of a scientist into the behaviours of ordinary agents, with the myth of homo economicus and "rational action theory".

Having a clear awareness of the irreducible specificity of the logic of practice, one must, therefore, it seems to me, avoid depriving oneself of that quite irreplaceable scientific resource, social experience previously subjected to sociological critique. I realized very early on that, in my field work in Kabylia, both to understand the practices that I was observing and to defend myself against the interpretations that I spontaneously formed or that my informants gave me, I was constantly appealing to my experience of the Béarn society of my childhood. For example, faced with an informant who, when questioned about the divisions of his group, gave me several different terms designating more or less extended units, I wondered whether one or other of the "social units", adhrum, thakharrubth, etc., that he mentioned had any more "reality" than the unit, called lou besiat, the set of neighbours, that the Béarnais sometimes invoked and to which some French ethnologists had given a scientifically recognized status. For I had an intuition, countless times confirmed by my subsequent research, that the besiat was neither more nor less than an occasional, as it were "virtual", grouping which only became "effective", existent and active, in certain very precise circumstances, for the conveying of the body of the deceased, for example, to define the participants in a circumstantial action and their ranks.

But that is only one of the very many cases in which I drew on my native knowledge to defend myself against the "folk theories" of my informants or of the ethnological tradition. And it was in order to make a critique of those spontaneous instruments of critique that I undertook, in the nineteen-sixties, just when I was pursuing my Kabyle research, to make a direct study of Béarn society, which, my intuition told me, presented many analogies with Kabyle society, despite the visible differences. In this case, as in my study of the academic staff of the University of Paris, the real object, beyond the declared and visible object, was the objectivating subject, or even, more precisely, the cognitive effects of the objectivating posture, in other words the transformation that is imposed on experience of the social world (in this particular case, a universe in which all the people were known to me, so that I knew, without having to ask, all their personal and collective history) when one ceases simply to "live" it and instead takes it as an object. This first deliberate and methodological exercise in reflexivity was no doubt the starting-point for an unceasing to-and-fro between the reflexive phase of objectivation of primary experience and the active phase of investment of this now objectified and criticised experience in acts of objectivation ever more remote from that experience. It was no doubt in this twofold movement that there was progressively constructed a scientific subject which is both an "anthropological eye" capable of grasping invisible relationships, and a (practical) self-mastery based for example on the progressive discovery of the "scholastic bias" to which J. L. Austin makes passing reference, and of its effects.

I realize that all this may appear both very abstract and also perhaps very arrogant. (There is indeed something a little delirious in experiencing the progress one has made, throughout a lifetime of research, as a kind of slow initiatory pathway, convinced that one knows the world better and better as one knows oneself better, that scientific knowledge and knowledge of oneself and one=92s own social unconscious advance hand in hand, and that primary experience transformed by scientific practice transforms scientific practice and vice versa). But in fact I am referring to entirely simple and concrete experiences of which I shall give just a few examples. While I was working on a study of male celibacy in Béarn which had started out from a conversation with a childhood friend about a class photograph in which I appeared, and as I was trying to construct a formal model of matrimonial exchanges (this was at the high-water mark of Lévi-Straussian structuralism), I was chatting one day with a person who had been one of my most constant and most intelligent informants (and who happened to be my mother). I was not thinking at all about my study, but I must have been vaguely preoccupied with it, when she said to me in passing, about a family in the village: "Oh, you know, they=92ve become very kith and kin with the So-and-so=92s (another family in the village) now that there=92s a Polytechnicien in the family=85". That remark was the starting point for the reflection that led me to think of marriage no longer in terms of the logic of the rule (the inadequacy of which I had already begun to see in the case of Kabylia) but, contrary to structuralist orthodoxy, as a strategy oriented by specific interests, such as the pursuit of the conservation or expansion of economic capital, through the relationship between the wealths of the families brought together, or of social capital and symbolic capital, through the extent and quality of the "connections" secured by the marriage.

But it was my whole way of conceiving the existence of groups -- clans, tribes, regions or nations =96 which progressively came to be completely transformed by this: instead of "real" entities, clearly demarcated in reality and in ethnological description, or genealogical sets, that is to say, sets defined on paper, according to strictly genealogical criteria, they appeared to me as social constructions, more or less artificial artefacts, artificially maintained by sustained exchanges and by a whole labour often delegated to women. (Here is an example of the to-and-fro movement to which I was alluding a moment ago: I am thinking of the work of an American sociologist who has shown that women, nowadays, in the United States, are great users of the telephone =96 which earns them the reputation of being extremely talkative =96 because they are charged with maintaining kin relationships, not only with their own family but also with their husband=92s.) And I could show in the same way how my analysis of the Béarn house as a heritage and as a household, and of all the strategies with which it asserted and defended itself against rival =91houses=92, enabled me to understand in, I think, a entirely renewed way, what was called =91the king=92s house=92, and how, before the gradual invention of the specific logic called "raison d=92Etat", royal "houses" could, in order to conserve or increase their heritage, resort to reproduction strategies entirely equivalent, both in their principle and in their logic, to those practised by Béarn "houses" and their "heads of the household", matrimonial strategies, of course, which enabled them to conserve or increase the heritage, challenges of honour aimed at increasing the symbolic capital of the lineage, or wars of succession.

I have mentioned honour and I might have been tempted to recall before you the long labour of observation, empirical analysis and reflexion which led me from the notion of honour -- the object of my very earliest ethnological research which I presented to those who accompanied and protected my entry into the profession, such as Julian Pitt-Rivers, Julio Caro Baroja and John G. Peristiany -- to the concept of symbolic capital, which is of great use, I believe, in analysing some of the most typical phenomena of the economy of symbolic goods which is perpetuated within the most modern economy, such as, to cite just one example, the quite special policy of symbolic investment practised by the great foundations, or some forms of patronage. But I would like to give you rapidly another example of a particularly fruitful to-and-fro: having discovered in Virginia Woolf=92s To the Lighthouse mythological structures which I would not have noticed if my eye had not been sharpened by familiarity with the Kabyle, and more generally Mediterranean, vision of the division of labour between the sexes, I was able, thanks to the extraordinarily subtle analysis that Virginia Woolf makes in that novel of the way in which the dominant masculine is dominated by his domination =97 an analysis which forced me to take further the work of reflexivity =97 to discover in return the limits of an anthropologist=92s lucidity which had not been able fully to turn anthropology against itself. I was particularly helped by Woolf=92s supremely cruel yet delicate evocation of the libido academica, one of the specific forms of the follies of masculinity, which could and should have figured in a less coldly objectivist version of Homo Academicus, one that would have been less distant from the object and subject of the objectivation.

A last example of the controlled use of anthropology (which is quite opposite to the wild use that ethnologists who lack exotic locations now make, especially in France, of ethnological analogies): starting from a redefinition of "rites of passage" as rites of institution, I was able to detect and analyse one of the functions of the French "élite schools" which remain the most well hidden (in particular by the function of training and selection), namely that they consecrate those who are entrusted to them, assigning to them a superior essence by instituting them as separate and distinguished from common humanity by an unbridgeable divide. But, more broadly, I was able to understand more intimately and, I think, more profoundly, a whole set of rites of the academic tradition, which have the function and the effect of giving the solemn sanction of the assembled collectivity to the new birth that the collectivity both performs and demands=97 like the Commencement and Graduation of British and American universities, a ceremony which solemnly marks the end of a long preparatory initiation and ratifies by an official act the slow transformation that has been performed in and by the expectation of consecration; or inaugural lectures; or even, if I may say so, a rite of admission to the invisible college of canonised anthropologists such as I am now performing before you and with you.

But I should like to finish by evoking another effect of reflexivity, no doubt more personal, but of great importance, in my view, for the progress in scientific research which -- I have gradually come to think -- as if despite myself and contrary to the principles of my primary vision of the world -- had something of an initiatory search about it. Each of us, and this is no secret for anyone, is encumbered by a past, his own past, and this social past, whatever it is, =91working class=92 or =91bourgeois=92, masculine or feminine, and always closely intertwined with what psychoanalysis explores, is particularly burdensome and obtrusive when one is engaged in social science. I have said that, contrary to the methodological orthodoxy which is sheltered under the authority of Max Weber and his principle of "axiological neutrality "(Wertfreiheit), I profoundly believe that the researcher can and must mobilise his own experience, in other words this past, in all his acts of research. But he is entitled to do so only on condition that he subjects all these returns of the past to a rigorous critical examination. For what has to be questioned is not only this reactivated past, but the whole relationship to this past, which, when it acts unconsciously, may be the source of a systematic distortion of the evocation and therefore of the memories evoked. Only a genuine socio-analysis of this relationship, which is profoundly obscure to itself, can make it possible to attain the kind of reconciliation of the researcher with himself, and with his social properties, that is produced by a liberatory anamnesis.

I know that I run the risk, once again, of appearing both arrogant and abstract, whereas I have in mind a very simple experiment which any researcher can, I think, perform for himself with very great scientific and also personal profits. The reflexive device that I set in motion by carrying out ethnographic research almost simultaneously in Kabylia and Béarn had the effect of leading me to look with an anthropological eye =97 that is to say with all the inseparably scientific and ethical respect due to an object of study =97 at my own milieu of origin, peasant and provincial, backward, some would say archaic, and which I had been led (or pushed) to despise, renounce, or, worse, repress, in the phase of anxious (even avid and over-eager) integration into the centre, and the central values. It was probably because I was thus led to cast a professional eye, both understanding and objectifying, on the world of my origin that I was able to break away from the violence of an ambivalent relationship, in which there were mingled familiarity and distance, sympathy and horror, even disgust, without falling into the populist indulgence for a kind of imaginary "people" which intellectuals often entertain. And this conversion of the whole person, which goes far beyond all the demands of the most demanding treatises on methodology, was no doubt what lay behind a theoretical conversion, the one which enabled me to re-appropriate the practical relation to the world more completely than through the still too distant analyses of phenomenology. This turn-around did not happen in a day, in a sudden illumination, and the many returns I made to my Béarn fieldwork (three times I resumed my work on male celibacy) were necessary both for technical and theoretical reasons and also, no doubt, because the work of analysis was accompanied each time by slow and difficult work of self-analysis.

So if I have always striven to reconcile ethnology and sociology, it is no doubt because I am profoundly convinced that this division is scientifically thoroughly damaging and should be radically overthrown; but also, as you will have seen, because it was a way of warding off the painful schism, never entirely overcome, between two parts of myself, and the contradictions or tensions that it brings into my scientific practice and perhaps into my whole life.

I used to see a strategic "coup", which greatly contributed to the social (or salon) success of Lévi-Strauss=92s Structural Anthropology, in the fact that instead of the French word ethnologie, ethnology, which was presumably thought too narrow, he chose the word anthropologie, which, for an educated French reader evokes both the profundity of the German Anthropologie and the modernity of the English "anthropology". But I can nonetheless not prevent myself from wishing to see the unity of the sciences of man asserted under the banner of an Anthropology designating, in all the languages of the world, both what we understand today by ethnology and by sociology.

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