Polity

  • In this major new work, Bourdieu pushes the critique of scholastic reason to a point which most questionings leave untouched.

  • Manet

    Pierre Bourdieu

    • Polity
    • 18 Mai 2018

    What is a 'symbolic revolution'? What happens when a symbolic revolutions occurs, how can it succeed and prevail and why is it so difficult to understand? Using the exemplary case of Édouard Manet, Pierre Bourdieu began to ponder these questions as early as the 1980s, before making it the focus of his lectures in his last years at the Collége de France. This second volume of Bourdieu's previously unpublished lectures provides his most sustained contribution to the sociology of art and the analysis of cultural fields. It is also a major contribution to our understanding of impressionism and the works of Manet.
    Bourdieu treats the paintings of Manet as so many challenges to the conservative academicism of the pompier painters, the populism of the Realists, the commercial eclecticism of genre painting, and even the 'Impressionists', showing that such a revolution is inseparable from the conditions that allow fields of cultural production to emerge. At a time when the Academy was in crisis and when the increase in the number of painters challenged the role of the state in defining artistic value, the break that Manet inaugurated revolutionised the aesthetic order. The new vision of the world that emerged from this upheaval still shapes our categories of perception and judgement today - the very categories that we use everday to understand the representations of the world and the world itself.
    This major work by one of the greatest sociologists of the last 50 years will be of great interest to students and scholars in sociology, art history and the social sciences and humanities generally. It will also appeal to a wide readership interested in art, in impressionism and in the works of Manet.

  • On the State

    Pierre Bourdieu

    • Polity
    • 18 Mai 2018

    What is the nature of the modern state? How did it come into being and what are the characteristics of this distinctive field of power that has come to play such a central role in the shaping of all spheres of social, political and economic life?
    In this major work the great sociologist Pierre Bourdieu addresses these fundamental questions. Modifying Max Weber's famous definition, Bourdieu defines the state in terms of the monopoly of legitimate physical and symbolic violence, where the monopoly of symbolic violence is the condition for the possession and exercise of physical violence. The state can be reduced neither to an apparatus of power in the service of dominant groups nor to a neutral site where conflicting interests are played out: rather, it constitutes the form of collective belief that structures the whole of social life. The `collective fiction' of the state Ð a fiction with very real effects - is at the same time the product of all struggles between different interests, what is at stake in these struggles, and their very foundation.
    While the question of the state runs through the whole of Bourdieu's work, it was never the subject of a book designed to offer a unified theory. The lecture course presented here, to which Bourdieu devoted three years of his teaching at the Collège de France, fills this gap and provides the key that brings together the whole of his research in this field. This text also shows `another Bourdieu', both more concrete and more pedagogic in that he presents his thinking in the process of its development. While revealing the illusions of `state thought' designed to maintain belief in government being oriented in principle to the common good, he shows himself equally critical of an `anti-institutional mood' that is all too ready to reduce the construction of the bureaucratic apparatus to the function of maintaining social order.
    At a time when financial crisis is facilitating the hasty dismantling of public services, with little regard for any notion of popular sovereignty, this book offers the critical instruments needed for a more lucid understanding of the wellsprings of domination.

  • Much orthodox economic theory is based on assumptions which are treated as self-evident: supply and demand are regarded as independent entities, the individual is assumed to be a rational agent who knows his interests and how to make decisions corresponding to them, and so on. But one has only to examine an economic transaction closely, as Pierre Bourdieu does here for the buying and selling of houses, to see that these abstract assumptions cannot explain what happens in reality.
    As Bourdieu shows, the market is constructed by the state, which can decide, for example, whether to promote private housing or collective provision. And the individuals involved in the transaction are immersed in symbolic constructions which constitute, in a strong sense, the value of houses, neighbourhoods and towns.
    The abstract and illusory nature of the assumptions of orthodox economic theory has been criticised by some economists, but Bourdieu argues that we must go further. Supply, demand, the market and even the buyer and seller are products of a process of social construction, and so-called `economic' processes can be adequately described only by calling on sociological methods. Instead of seeing the two disciplines in antagonistic terms, it is time to recognize that sociology and economics are in fact part of a single discipline, the object of which is the analysis of social facts, of which economic transactions are in the end merely one aspect.
    This brilliant study by the most original sociologist of post-war France will be essential reading for students and scholars of sociology, economics, anthropology and related disciplines.

  • In 1988, the renowned sociologist Pierre Bourdieu and the leading historian Roger Chartier met for a series of lively discussions that were broadcast on French public radio. Published here for the first time, these conversations are an accessible and engaging introduction to the work of these two great thinkers, who discuss their work and explore the similarities and differences between their disciplines with the clarity and frankness of the spoken word.
    Bourdieu and Chartier discuss some of the core themes of Bourdieu's work, such as his theory of fields, his notions of habitus and symbolic power and his account of the relation between structures and individuals, and they examine the relevance of these ideas to the study of historical events and processes. They also discuss at length Bourdieu's work on culture and aesthetics, including his work on Flaubert and Manet and his analyses of the formation of the literary and artistic fields. Reflecting on the differences between sociology and history, Bourdieu and Chartier observe that while history deals with the past, sociology is dealing with living subjects who are often confronted with discourses that speak about them, and therefore it disrupts, disconcerts and encounters resistance in ways that few other disciplines do.
    This unique dialogue between two great figures is a testimony to the richness of Bourdieu's thought and its enduring relevance for the humanities and social sciences today.

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