Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Revisiting theory...

I've worked out why I don't like theory.
It makes me feel stupid.

My supervisor suggested I look at Bourdieu's work on reproduction of elites through education, and I naively went down to the library, checked out 3 of his books and went to Starbucks for a bit of reading. When I'd settled in with my coffee, I opened up "Reproduction: In Education, Society and Culture" and found this:

"Finally, because his reaction against artificialist conceptions of the social order leads Durkheim to emphasize the externality of constraint, whereas Marx, concerned to revel the relations of violence underlying the ideologies of legitimacy, tends in his analysis of the effects of the dominant ideology to minimize the real efficacy of the symbolic strengthening of power relations (rapports de force) that is implied in the recognition by the dominated of the legitimacy of domination, Weber is opposed to both Durkheim and Marx in that he is the only one who explicitly takes as his object the specific contribution that representations of legitimacy make to the exercise and perpetuation of power, even if, confined within a psycho-sociological conception of those representations, he cannot, as Marx does, inquire into the functions fulfilled in social relations by misrecognition (meconnaissance) of the objective truth of those relations as power relations." (Bourdieu, 1977, p. 4-5)

That's one sentence.

And it's just the introduction. It gets worse, when he goes into the "insofar" statements...

"Insofar as it is symbolic violence, pedagogic action can produce its own specifically symbolic effect only when provided with the social conditions for imposition and inculcation, i.e. the power relations that are not implied in a formal definition of communication."

What have I gotten myself into?

To be fair, only the first 68 pages are like this. The rest of the book has data charts and slightly more accessible language...

But overall, this foray into Bourdieu is a serious blow to my confidence...
"Are you sure you want to be an academic?"

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