File spoon-archives/bourdieu.archive/bourdieu_2004/bourdieu.0410, message 59

Date: Fri, 29 Oct 2004 11:45:20 -0500
Subject: Re: [BOU:] Bourdieu and Foucault

Maybe I should elaborate on the difficulty I'm having.   Unfortunately, 
the poststructuralists in my department do not read Bourdieu, and if 
they do, it seems that it is only to borrow selective concepts.

Take this example of borrowing from an article on queer theory: 
"[Bourdieu] has employed the notion of habitus to describe how what is 
constructed can come to seem inevitable and natural. Like the fish that 
does not feel the weight of the water, human beings live in a world of 
'social games embodied and turned into second nature.'"  The author is 
clearly looking for a citation to buttress her theory that discourses 
are hidden mental structures for perceiving the world.  But the author 
has stripped the concept of habitus of its meaning in Bourdieu's work.  
Habitus is the embodied mental structure that people acquire from their 
position in the objective social structure. One's habitus varies from 
class to class. That is why the habitus classifies (e.g., judgements of 
taste) and is classified (i.e., one's judgements of taste is itself the 
object of judgement by others).  And thus, one's habitus determines 
one's objective chance of entering and succeeding in social games and 
achieving distinction.  What is important in Bourdieu's concept of 
habitus is not only the content of the culture it produces (e.g., 
heteronormativity), but its social function as a mark of distinction 
from other groups.  But in the article on queer theory, habitus is only 
used to explain the naturalization of a heteronormative worldview.

A poststructuralist, for instance, might look at and critique the 
operation of heteronormative discourse in the US, in order to challenge 
the dominant politics of sexuality.  It might make sense to use 
Bourdieu if the types of sexuality are distributed unevenly across 
classes or, and this is more likely, if the attitudes to different 
types of sexuality vary with class or class fraction.  However, this is 
not what poststructuralists are interested in.  They aim to change 
heteronormative discourse by articulating oppositional discourses, and 
as such are direct players in the cultural field.


On Friday, October 29, 2004, at 08:38  AM, Chris Andersen wrote:

> Thank goodness we were able to reduce the entire complexity of
> Bourdieu's and Foucault's work to a couple of lines! Who volunteers to
> make up the T-shirts? Just think, B & F put in all that time to nuance
> their work...just goes to show that some people make things too complex
> ;)
> <<>><<>><<>><<>><<>><<>>
> Chris Andersen
> School of Native Studies
> 5-182 Education North
> University of Alberta
> Edmonton, AB, CANADA
> T6G 2G5
> (780) 492 4814 - phone
> (780) 492 0527 - fax
> **********************************************************************
> Contributions:
> Commands:
> Requests:

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