File spoon-archives/bourdieu.archive/bourdieu_2004/bourdieu.0411, message 21

Date: Mon, 29 Nov 2004 21:56:35 -0800
Subject: Re: [BOU:] The American habitus

Thanks, Cameron, for the most interesting comments. But I now see that I was less than clear about what I meant by "propaganda"  in my original statement. Perhaps if I had included another famous quote by Goebels, the one that says in effect that a lie repeated often enough becomes truth, that would have helped. But basically, I meant someone who tried to influence public thinking (i.e., the public's larger habitus) by sophism and other forms of slip shod
logic, rather that careful, deliberative, intellectually honest thought. For reasons which I have set forth in considerable detail in my unpublished writings, but not  here, I think Rand was the "fountainhead" of such modern "propagandists," from Lmnbaugh, to Hanity, to George W. Bush. And yes, this clearly involves the idea of domination. People such as Lmnbaugh, Hanity, and the rest, hold the positions they do, in my view, because they serve the
interests of a very powerful ruling elite. And from the perspective of that elite, the likes of Hanity and Lmnbaugh are tools for holding onto their power.
   Perhaps you wish to maintain that the notion of habitus is not valid or useful for discussing this--- that the habitus takes on a life of its own, and that no one person, or small group of people, are capable of substantially altering it one way or another. If so, I simply fail to see the reason why, and would like to be further enlightened along these lines.
      I'm unclear as to what you mean by a "receptive habitus." But it seems clear that a good education would definitely inhibit receptivity to  the likes of Lmnbaugh, Bush--- or even a Goebels. Likewise with Ayn Rand--- she generally appeals to the very young, and the philosophically uninitiated. Anyone who has ever read Kant, for example, knows that the scurrilous drivel she   writes about him is indeed just that. So I agree that "receptivity" must be
at least in some sense a factor here.

"Cameron Mann (at work)" wrote:

The habitus *is* that which tends to actively shape the habitus. The self-regulating habitus adapts in avoiding disadvantage.

> I am not sure that the function/phenomenon of the propagandist deserves a special place in the relationships between habitus, field(s), agent & world(s).

This would be nice if it were true, but given the much discussed phenomenon of Americans (particularly those who happen to live in Kansas, as well as Limbaugh's "ditto heads") voting against their own person interests seems to provide ample evidence to the contrary. Perhaps I misunderstand you, however.

> A class of habituses (Patrick suggests The American Habitus?) may be particularly suspectible/attentive to a kind of (or all) intellectual source. Howeverm, this is really no different to other habituses suspectible/attentive to great big colourful canvases, or a sport-star's feats, or complexities of managing cash crops..

Perhaps if I had said "the habitus of the American voter" that would have been better, but perhaps not. It is clearly different for different classes of voters. But again, I do agree that the less educated are far more susceptible to influences such as Rand and the others I've mentioned here, although I think a case could be made that many who have never even heard of Ayn Rand have been significantly influenced by her and her impact upon American culture
generally. That is to say, many of the Rand's ideas from the 1960s, as well as Rand follower, Alan Greenspan, advocating, for example, private ownership of radio broadcast frequencies (free of government regulation) seemed radical then, but seem much more commonplace and mainstream today. This I would say is prima facie evidence of Rand and her followers' influence upon the habitus. Likewise certain Library of Congress surveys in which Rand's novels rank
quite high in surveys which ask people what books they have read have influenced them most.

> The world is full of things that influence the way an agent acts, and also the way a habitus understands both the world and good strategies. In this respect, propaganda is just another thing for the habitus to deal with */as it sees best/*

I agree with the first half of what you say, but fail completely to understand what you mean in the second half. Perhaps the problem is that I don't see the habitus as something all that separated from the people who live in it. In point of fact, I don't think the habitus *exists* at all as any sort of entity. I simply think of it as a useful abstraction for discussing social phenomena. I'm sure Bourdieu himself would have disagreed with me here, but that
is still the way I personally happen to see things.

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