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“I say that the idea of masculinity is one of the last refuges of the identity of the dominated classes [...] it’s characteristic of people who have little to fall back on except their labour-power and sometimes their fighting strength.” said Bourdieu in 1993. I take this occasion, after publication of his major book on the subject (La Domination Masculine, Seuil, 1998a) to review his theory of gender relations. He has broached what he calls the “paradoxal” break with the doxa of masculine domination at several points (1998a:24). His initial ethnographic studies of Kabylia situate the opposition between masculine and feminine as the most important classification and social division of this group of Southern Algerian mountain peasants. By 1980, with Le Sens Pratique (246-7), Bourdieu was concerned with a model of masculine domination in advanced capitalist countries. This was eventually to surface in a lengthy article on the subject in 1990, the working paper for the new book. From 1988 his writings include brief gender surveys, identifying the exclusions of women from the best grandes écoles (at the level of higher education) and from the restricted or artistic field (in the sphere of cultural production). A series of writings, including Distinction, formulated a “new mode of social reproduction” from classic, family-based capitalism to a schoolmediated form of social reproduction where “heirs” had to legitimate themselves through exams before they could come into their wealth in dividends or salaries. Further, if Distinction had explored the decline of classic manufacturing industry, the waning of tradeunionism and the increased seductions of the market and, The State Nobility studied the transformations in the tertiary academic field in the making of such an exam-based, statecertified bourgeoisie, pinpointing especially the new (post-70s) hegemony of disciplines linked to management and administration in contrast with the earlier disciplinary preeminence of philosophy, noteable for its rigorous independence. In a note on “overproduction”, The State Nobility reviews the simultaneous entry of women into higher education and into former male preserves (1996:287) . I shall argue that Bourdieu’s sociology is more powerful than his critics tell us, although he still has some way to go in “putting the woman back in”. Kabylia is used in La Domination Masculine as a canonical or exemplary case and it does undoubtedly serve to reveal the relative autonomy of gender domination: that is, the extraordinary structural constancy, irrespective of mode of production, to the pejorative attributions of nature to women and of cultural distinction to men. But the strategic advantages of this approach hide
also its downside: so extensive is its analytical sweep that Bourdieu’s study fails to acknowledge with sufficient precision the changing characteristics of patriarchy within different periods, most noteably that of capitalist modernity. However, Bourdieu’s theory of practice permits the use of a set of conceptual tools superior to those offered by Habermasian, Foucauldian or Giddensian approaches. Applying these further, I shall go on to tease out from the entire set of his writings an analysis of the mutual implications of gender and class. It needs to be emphasised that this is not the subject of his most recent book on masculine domination and that I both risk undermining his mature reflections on the analytical autonomy of gender domination and of being politically incorrect in tackling these issues here. Whatever the hazards, I want to draw in my argument from Bourdieu’s own assessments of the strategies of the grande bourgeoisie, that class which in Britain sociologists call the upper service class. Because of constraints of length, I shall offer here an unremittingly harsh, “objectivist” view of strategic interests. Finally, I shall end by outlining briefly some areas of contention in relation to Bourdieu which are of significance to the development of feminist theory. Bourdieu’s Theory of Gender Practice What is the “value-added” in Bourdieu’s theory of practice offer which is absent from other approaches? This theory acts upon his well-known intention to drop certain oppositions which are barriers to thought - between the dualisms of mechanistic thought and voluntarism, between mind and body, between coercion and willed complicity. Perhaps Bourdieu’s first and most valuable achievement is to reveal the extraordinary power of “doxa” or orthodoxy in this area. Masculine domination is naturalised in the form of a profound biologisation: It is not the phallus (or its absence) which is the principal generator of this worldvision, but it is this vision of the world, which, being organised for social reasons that it will be necessary to uncover, according to the division between masculine and feminine in relational genders, can institute the phallus, constituted as the symbol of virility - of the specifically masculine honour - as the principle of the difference between the sexes (in the sense of genders) and can establish the social difference between the two essences of which the hierarchical relationship procedes from the objective cast of the statement that there is a natural distance between the biological bodies. (1990: 14; cf. 1998a:16). Thus Bourdieu breaks with the biologically-founded essentialism of Freud’s naive theory of penis envy while remaining faithful to its spirit. Or, to put it more subtly:
symbolised. outside murder or war. is the division of all boys from the excluded girls and the fetishism of virility (1990:14). there are only the menial. preserving the unity of the clan against internal deviance (1998a: 367). women are connoted with certain negative qualities and the masculine . in itself a naturalised social construction (1998a: 29).” (1990: 23): the male is also mastered by masculine domination. brief but profoundly consequential acts. drawing heavily on the sphere of tacitly taken-for-granted assumptions. his theoretical construction also possesses another further dimension: “one begins to suspect that the torturer is also the victim .. For women. But. It requires spectacular. In turn. the soft. Consequently. and indeed. going beyond Husserl’s purely phenomenological analysis of such natural attitudes.. he interprets him as refusing to adopt a stable perspective from either extreme position (1996c:78).. we must understand the fact that the habitus possesses a primordial sexual dimension. the whole Western tradition originating from the Mediterranean.with positive qualities (“vir” for “male” is the linguistic root of “virtue”). within both the phallocentric culture of Kabylia.like the noble . the repetitive and the private tasks. tragic view of La Domination Masculine. In this way.The torturer and yet he who is flayed”. What is actually at stake.“I am the wound and yet the knife/. such practices possess their “sweet rationale” in myths. The natural or “doxic” attitude to the gender divide is forged behind the arena of ideology. Rather like the craft skills of the experienced . Masculinity in Kabylia entails accepting the necessary destiny of the warrior and the periodic engagement in murderous acts. To grasp the ways in which the “long work of socialisation” operates on the agent. remarks Bourdieu. release from the softness of mothers and freedom from the calculativeness of the female in her market haggling. The habitus is a set of dispositions towards action. which includes the lines . More insidiously. in the male monopoly of throat-cutting to kill beasts or in the harsh verdicts of male executive powers. which explain the necessity for things being as they are.. For the doxa derives its force from everyday practices in the sexual division of labour. What is apparently going on at such occasions is the segregation of older from younger males. but whatever the initial source. when Bourdieu earlier quotes Baudelaire’s poem Héautontimoroumenos. on the other hand. momentous rituals in the passage through life.The particular force of the masculine sociodicy derives from the fact that it brings together two operations and condenses them: it legitimates a relation of domination which is inscribed in a biological nature. Perhaps it is Baudelaire’s poem which provides the potent imagery for Bourdieu’s doublesided. Bourdieu also explores the social conditions in which such gender orthodoxy is rooted. the implications of practices are enacted and symbolically condensed in the orchestrated grandeur of circumcision and male coming-of-age ceremonies.
a figure who retains the character of absolute . much as the military man is drilled into his straight back(1990:26. subjective.1998a:76). In these quests for posthumously “making a mark” women fail to feature at all. This is true in relation to the illusio of the game of masculinity.is simultaneously to lay bare all the false essentialisms of sexism.. is a “pense-bête” . Mr Ramsay. military or artistic fields in more differentiated societies. the social constructions of masculinity and femininity are actually written on the body in the form of facial masks over emotion or controls. even those which reappear in reversed form in feminist theorists such as Irigaray. Over millennia. for Bourdieu as for Pascal earlier. conceived in terms of bodily oppositions . which he understands as the work of one who brings to the light of day the peculiar insights of “une lucide exclue” (1990: 24-26 .which Bourdieu calls the “bodily hexis” . demonstrated most graphically in the literal agoraphobia of a minority of women. bodily stances.or what he entitles the “illusio” of masculine domination. gaits. Bourdieu’s theory seems to me to have an extraordinary appeal for its grasp of the seriousness of the game of masculine honour . for Kabylians. cf. Yet the cost of creating such drastic exclusions. Such processes have profound consequences for the individual sense of self. then. gender is a psychosomatic matter. who rule themselves out of the public space from which they have historically been excluded (1990:12). Bourdieu documents this by a delicate reading of Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. is that they also potentially endanger men themselves with the possibility of ignominy and ridicule. Ultimately. Yet at the most profound level. hence the potential for fresh improvisation as in the spontaneous riffs of the great jazz player. To grasp this somatic expression of the political . the habitus rules out certain forms of action as “unthinkable”. whether it surfaces directly through the fighting honour of the Kabylean adult male or whether it is translated into the stakes for success in the scientific. But it also permits a certain freedom. postures etc. At issue in this text is especially Woolf’s portrayal of the alternation betweentyranny and selfdoubt on the part of her patriarch. The body.driver which teach him/her to anticipate potential disasters in a semi-unconscious way. In the West this now exerts its effects in its pure form only on lower class “lads” who have no other “investments”.1998a: 28-35). the long work of socialisation goes into a process of naturalising the social. Secondly. the masculine direct gaze versus the female downward gaze.a thinking animal (1990: 11.the straight man versus the crooked woman. symbolic concerns that men retain in their competitive struggles between each other for reputation. which confer significance on the “world-making” actions of men alone. 1997:169). Perhaps the chief distinction of his theory of masculine domination is its capacity to grasp simultaneously the economic/political interests at stake and also to enkindle a feel for the purely non-material.
they elect to continue their own dominated femininity (1990: 29. Bourdieu’s most recent thought Today. If in Distinction.as Clinton well knows. despite his philosophical views of liberal enlightenment. this is a field of contradiction and change. There is a further dimension. Woolf’s women . as he puts it. including the appearance and unity of the family as a whole. 1998a: 1134). Bourdieu vividly dissected the work of the new service-sector economy with its cosmeticians. Thus he warns of the dangers of men rationalising women’s oppression within the labour-market. The three most crucial structures in the perpetuation of masculine domination in modernity have been the Family. Bourdieu argues. homological sexual divisions still permeate the academic world . women have been responsible for “the economy of symbolic goods “. educated culture in the past has been underpinned by Aristotelian presumptions about the inferiority of women. By contrast. Bourdieu’s particular expertise lies in revealing the nature of academic space. Of course. in this study he stresses the same democratisation of luxury but links it up to the alienated choice of women.ruler within his family. centring on the presentation and representation of the self and on their expertise in appearances. In brief. which serves to attract women so predictably (1990:25) . to create a “pessimistic vision” of women. in my view contentiously.or. for Bourdieu. Nevertheless. Not least among these is the sexual charisma attached to the powerful. in lower-ranking fields rather than higher-ranking ones in disciplines such as philosophy (1998a: 98). . we live in a transitional epoch. Today. Bourdieu argues. These have served.thus women tend to be in gynaecology and dermatology but not surgery. aromatherapists and reflexologists. masculine honour is at once a privilege and a trap. In the bourgeois family. In this way women are consigned by amor fati (love of their fate) to use their femininity commercially .run less of a risk of humiliation and failure than do their men. Female honour is more a negative matter of chastity and fidelity. perpetuating masculine domination within women’s changed position (1990: 29. This theory of honour also suggests the supports for the “libido dominandi” (desire for mastery) which is at the heart of masculine domination. Women have always served as objects of exchange in marriage and have extended the social reproduction of the family by means of these marriages. that women’s work in the contemporary labour-market simply recapitulates this gender division of labour. in the faculty of arts rather than science. historically. School (including both Universities and grandes écoles) and the Churches.whose eggs are not all in one basket . 1998a:106-9).Thus he takes issue with those feminists who see the domestic hearth as the fundamental starting-point of gender divisions and identifies these alternative structures as the key bearers.
Nevertheless. which treats women’s oppression as analytically independent of class.however fragile . . Education. to which Bourdieu dedicates a poignant coda. In the 1998a text he writes an entirely new appendix on gay movements for transformation in the legal field and for social recognition. In The State Nobility (1996a) Bourdieu begins to suggest a quite different formulation of the “new mode of reproduction” of the last 30 years. that we might have been blind to other social facts. he links both the masculine point of honour and feminine actions in converting economic into symbolic capital to the actions required for the maintenance of the position of the (bourgeois) family overall (1998a: 104). He concludes by arguing that their experience of stigma and of other forms of oppression makes gays not only good champions of their own cause but also prominent in raising their voices in the social movements of other excluded groups less able to speak for themselves. including the pioneering shattering of glass ceilings and the creation of new professional lifestyles. Late Capitalism and Women’s Entry to the Workforce I want now to raise certain questions. These are not posed in La Domination Masculine.can be used to disqualify people. further.I recall Sir Keith Joseph’s advice to his Party in the 1970s that they should not oppose the employment of women workers. he suggests. Love is based on a willed alienation of the self in a form of reciprocity .those of colonised or poor groups as well as sexual . Rather than arranged marriage and dowries.The limit case of such commercialised care is the Japanese hostesses of “luxury clubs” with their provision of emotional and sexual services for their male clients (1998a: 107). the dominant class has chosen to invest in the education of its daughters.which transcends the commonsense opposition of altruism or egoism.and rather stressing the economic prerequisites of such positions . to argue that because gay men and lesbians have relatively greater access to cultural capital. and conversely less chance where the mechanisms of domination are well understood. Bourdieu clarifies that this form of oppression has much more chance of surviving where it is part of a dialectic of distinction and pretension within which many forms of handicap . Contrasted implicitly with these emotional services is the unalienated relationship of love. because they were in general docile and ununionised. Here Bourdieu breaks not only with ultramontane radical feminists but with the harsh Sartrian view of love as a fraught and dangerous trap. that we may have been so taken up with women’s subjective experience.homosexual love. In the light of this . It is doubly striking that he has also extended his concern for masculine domination into a new area . Moreover. Bourdieu applies his theory in an unexpected way at this point. they are particularly likely to win the strategic struggles over their own sexual legitimacy. I shall suggest.
[ . Yet there are also good sociological grounds for grasping the structures of the “esprit de famille”. yes. that’s to say. 287-9).). which are still highly resilient. could be regarded then as increasing your chances of keeping or gaining more “picture” cards in your family’s hand of cards: One of the property of the dominants is to have families particularly extended (the great have great families) and strongly integrated. It is not just a question of amassing economic capital . 274-5. not least of course the inheritance of economic property. at once by capital and for capital. Bourdieu’s work has taught us to be imaginative with regard to interests in education and especially to strategies of family advancement on the part of the grande bourgeoisie.for this is a vulgar materialism (1996a: 531-3) . but also by the solidarity of their interests. In general. social capital (which one knows is both the condition for and the consequence of the successful direction of capital on the part of the members of this domestic unit).. thus the acquisition of symbolic capital. women feature more prominently in the preparatory classes for the grandes écoles. It is in this same objectivating mode that I note that we have been slow to describe the class consequences of the increasing success of women as upwards invaders of service class jobs or what Bourdieu would call the dominant class.the habitus operates to draw together partners from the same backgrounds and experiences within the university or grande école (1996a: 275). The entry of women into the upper sections of the labour market. perhaps. But simultaneously it is often the (extended) family which legitimates a strategy of maximising your capitals . In this sense. especially the higher professions or management. The family itself is a field in which its members seek to be disinterested towards one another (1996b: 140). and to point to some indicators of meltdown in such a constructed social entity (lone parents etc.to adopt changed fertility patterns and to benefit by their earning potential (1996a. but a “well-founded one” (1996b: 145). He has recently argued that ethnomethodology is to some degree correct to see the family as an “illusion”.] ( 1996b:143).quite the contrary .. economic capital certainly.it’s also useful to have in your family a bishop or a polytechnicien. the family is an illusion. because united not just through the effects of the habitus. but also symbolic capital (the name) and above all. What if the situation in 1999 were the . This does not eliminate intra-class marriage . Here he points not just to the doxa in which to “have a family” is in the most basic status terms to normalise yourself but also the crucial nature of the family as an arena for State ratification and for the social reproduction of capitals. replacing the dominated class candidates in this respect (1996a:195).
1966: 107. we notice that the post-war settlement had. Working-class men are culturally more denigrated and rendered more “abject” as a consequence of shifts in occupational structures and of bourgeois women’s move into the labour-market. perhaps a “disinterested” concern with the stakes of gender equality have increasingly masked material interests. 1993: 101. Rereading Runciman’s 1966 Relative Deprivation and Social Justice. This applies to both sexes. for example. 1989: 133-151) but that it might gain also by utilising their educational capital in the labour-market (see Pickvance and Pickvance. in 1987. Now I am arguing neither against equal pay nor economic independence for women. Certainly. over £20. Paradoxically. extensive middle-class relative deprivation that might provide some of the motives for this “change of heart” and which explains (in part) the logic of the situation which has led to an emergent feminisation of management and professions. see also Walby. But these facts indicate that the split in class experience has become much wider than in the period from the mid-40s to the late 60s. and the contribution of women’s work to this through the combining of high salaries at the service class level? After all. that we failed to notice the increasing polarisation of class inequalities going on behind our backs. Workingclass women suffer from the same injuries of class.000) were those where there were dual service class incomes (1992: 156). One little indicator of this is the disappearance of domestic servants in the interwar years (Runciman. produced a marked decline in the levels of satisfaction of the middle class vis a vis the material improvements of the working-class (Runciman. unlike their service-class sisters. 1994). this might be true even in the area of so-called “materialist feminism” since by a sleight of hand the “material” can come to mean only the “materiality of the signifier”.exact obverse of the state in 1969 when “the question of sexual divisions and difference [were pushed] to the periphery of the historical process” (Alexander: 1984:127)”? What if we have become so mesmerised by these stories of women’s progress or its limits.109). In other words. Moreover. I neither want to reduce women’s oppression to class. Mike Savage et al reveal that. nor is there a simple way to relate this new information to programmes for reducing inequality. 61% of those families where the highest salary levels had been obtained (at that time. and this seems to me to aptly characterise the situation ( Brenner. 1966: 89). as in the work of Judith Butler (see below). 1997). there is considerable evidence in Britain of earlier. they cannot throw off the double burden of paid work and housework: “The best of times [and] the worst of times” Johanna Brenner quotes in relation to this class polarisation of women. Indeed the language of alienation used by Oakley of housework in the early 1970s is precisely to be understood in the context of the forced domestic labour of women previously free from menial and repetitive .it is probable that the bourgeoisie came to realise that it did not merely benefit by using women to socialise the next generation (Lovell. by 1962. But in Britain at least .
using Bourdieu’s concept of strategies. a shift encapsulated brilliantly in Bourdieu’s account of the rise of a “new mandarin” stratum. as in the colonising. there were more domestic servants . Thompson. professionals typically denigrate an openly consumerist stance.are right to suppose that there are differences in the experience and mental structures of the higher professionals vis-a vis the private employer or manager.those supposedly feudal relics . like the peasant agriculture of pre-capitalist Kabylia.in Victorian Britain than factory-workers (Corrigan. they could offer an “angle of suffering” that made them more sensitive to the concerns of others (1989) . :1992: 207). It would be an irony if. As Gregson and Lowe have calculated. reminds us that a “progressive” industrialist class by no means always bred progressive outcomes. with its distinctive body-culture (1996a). which they then go on to express as an “ascetic” lifestyle amongst professionals (Savage. There is a coda to this argument. Bourdieu’s earlier works refer to a distinction between an “economy in itself”. to the new lifestyle of women adorned with power suits and Porsches. She extends this to the claim that there was a sexual division of labour in Victorian Britain. the mental/manual divide became more entrenched so that the salaried women of the service class controlled and exploited the menial or degraded labour of their sisters (Brenner. capitalist society of France (eg 1977: 1723). Lovell has pointed out with great acuteness that since bourgeois women also belonged to the oppressed and excluded members of 19th century Britain. in the name of emancipating women. Unlike the more market-loving entrepreneurial middle class. In this context it is important to realise how many of the earlier domestic staff have now been reconstituted as an indirect result of the decisions of middle-class women to work. in which women became responsible for the ethical area and men for the calculative amoralism of the market (see also . 1977).duties (1974). et al. Glucksman). For example. over one-third of the middle class now employ cleaners and nannies (1995:155). within the service class as a whole it is worth noting the shift from the typically restrained body-image and frugal lifestyle of women such as Simone de Beauvoir (Moi 1993). Perhaps in this respect we might also consider some of the wider impacts of the commodification of women’s labour-time (cf E. 1993: 158). Moreover. and an “economy in and for itself”. But we might interrogate further the strategic “interest in disinterestedness” on the part of this so-called “ascetic” professional group ( see Bourdieu. Nevertheless. And yet the reappearance in the last century of (wage-paid) servants in households of a bourgeois rather than a feudal landowning class. Savage et al . Curiously enough.P. 1984: 250-1). The conceptual filters through which we catch these contemporary realities are often similarly misleading. the graciousness made possible by the removal of menial chores and the social capital gleaned as the last strange harvest from the petty tortures of public schools. such “asceticism” rarely precludes the dignity of large houses and gardens. this time in relation to fractions of the dominant class.
indicates the particular deployment of a new ideology of (English) bourgeois morality centring on the strict domestication of women. She is persuasive in viewing this as especially important in the critique and demise of aristocratic morality (1987). Bourdieu has not written on the eighteenth century genesis of the public sphere.feudal. scouts and guides etc.Davidoff and Hall (1987)). Further. Again. literature and ideology It should be noted that Bourdieu’s work so far has been restricted to the analysis of the structural constants of masculine domination. the Foucauldian analysis of Nancy Armstrong.). unlike Donzelot (1980). Bourdieu has so far avoided entering into these detailed analyses of social transformation. I would argue that he has not yet sufficiently elaborated on the different types of patriarchy and their connection historically with different fields of power . the scarcity of time that provokes working women’s rejection of these roles brings much closer the ghettoising of forms of physical space along class lines. etc. Of recent studies. Yet. When women enter the workforce alongside bourgeois men this whole ethical sphere of locally-based community institutions procedes to fragment (cf Bourdieu. heightened class distance (see also. for example. absolutist. In the cultural field. Areas of Contention in Bourdieu’s La Domination Masculine History. In the sense that such institutions offer a (precarious) structural and physical bridge between classes (through political organisations. the public sphere had undoubted significance for gender relations. In his tendency to prioritise for study universals of gender domination. Sennett (1996) and Landes (1988). both through its initial flowering in salons where women were prominent and through the relative absence in the eighteenth century of the subsequent ideal of a primarily child-centred family existence. Women’s entry into the field of waged labour intensifies a crisis in this form of gift exchange. he has not elaborated on the association of married women’s paid factory work with moral degradation. There is a long and distinguished historical list of this kind of approach. 1998a:105). and with it. despite his familiarity with the work of Scott (1987). churches. ripping away the last paternalistic veil in the relations between the classes. he has neither explored his crucial concept of masculine/ feminine honour in the different terrain of a gendered Protestant Ethic nor addressed the strategic vehicle of the novel in elaborating on the Protestant critique of aristocratic sexuality. as much in the discourses of nineteenth century French political economy as in contemporary French feminism (cf Landes). Bourdieu. . once more. agrarian capitalist and industrial capitalist. 1993b). alongside its well-known experimentation with democratic forms.
The exclusion of women from the public space of modernist circles led to the women writers of socalled “middlebrow” fiction to possess much greater education or cultural capital than was the case for male middlebrow and popular writers (see Fowler. sustaining a culture which has historically been unconstrained by the necessity for politeness. As Walt Whitman once said.for example. popular language emerges publically only in marginal areas such as pubs and cafes. how working-class. they used strong plot structures or encode within their novels collective memories or folk-history. Bourdieu may not notice from his French vantage-point and his acquaintance with a culture which is rigorously prescriptive of bourgeois literary linguistic usage. women were therefore constrained to keep one foot in the popular camp while they also experimented with elements of modernist technique or subject. Butler and Gender Bourdieu’s social theory has recently been contested in a new debate of considerable relevance for feminist thought. For Bourdieu interprets such . Butler is therefore to some degree correct when she sees her efforts to theorise “resignification” and her stress on an autonomous play with gender identities (1990) as threatened by Bourdieu’s theory in its present formulation.With the advent of the modernist public sphere. also Grignon and Passeron (1989)). Women were thus constrained to attend to some features of popular projects of literature . Judith Butler (1997) has attacked the socio-linguistic implications of his theory of practice as “conservative”. he regards the linguistic “market” for popular speech as inherently weak and compelled to exist cut off from the places where decisions are made. especially in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. 1997:139-151). Afro-American and other transgressive forms of speech may under certain circumstances become accepted into the linguistic mainstream rather than remaining purely within the demotic currents of street-culture. where working class men and women can speak freely. we have to note the cultural sexual divisions which made popular and middlebrow culture into a largely female terrain. As she remarks in Excitable Speech. Not unlike Shostakovich and those unusual Soviet creative figures who avoided the twin dangers of an over-hermetic rarity and academic cliché. Such criticisms are not entirely without foundation. like the yeast in a lump of dough (see eg Fowler 1997. for it is difficult to see where Bourdieu does identify the source of dynamism within the development of language (see especially Bourdieu (1991)). Indeed. For him. the entire premises of “queer theory” and black revalorisations of “nigger” etc are challenged by Bourdieu’s Language and Symbolic Power. it is often from the most resonating areas of popular culture that change in language is generated. Bourdieu.
utopian.voluntaristic defence of an open future: a position which is vulnerable to the defensible criticisms made by Bourdieu of Sartre’s theoreticism and abstract notion of freedom (See Bourdieu.) Moreover. Butler thus champions the claims of a liberal avantgarde whose conceptual flexibility and imaginative freedom is undermined by what she sees as Bourdieu’s heavy sociologism. 51. such as those conceptualised in the arts. when much of his theoretical life has been dedicated to stressing the power of classifications. Against this. He argues tellingly that it is not enough to speak performatively (e.although without legitimate authority . Bourdieu’s social interpretation of language can be justified further when he claims that it is not language alone that is at stake in linguistic development. Indeed she accuses Bourdieu of mechanistic economism in the form of base and superstructure hankerings: “he combines a mimetic relation between the linguistic and the social.counterhegemonic developments as equivalent to the merely childish innovations of literary experimenters. rehabilitating the base/superstructure model whereby the linguistic becomes epiphenomenal” (Butler.g. Bourdieu can surely not be accused of the crude reflectionism of base and superstructure theories. who speaks authoratively . recalls vividly those women. as with feminism. 1997: 157).to demand her civil rights. Bourdieu’s writing on art in fact contain a wider theory about the fate of social transformation as a whole. he would hardly have needed to theorise both the forward-looking. Butler. but too often on the basis of good intentions rather than much mutual knowledge. he recognises the . and when he has explicitly repudiated the base-superstructure metaphor. Were this not so. a creative. 1990a: 42-46. imaginative power of representations in art and literature and the empirical findings which show how such “symbolic goods” are destined to end up in the hands of the dominants rather than the dominated. In such symbolic appeals. representations and ideology. In other words. “I pronounce thee man and wife”) since social authorisation through delegation is necessary. and this should be extended to his arguments about ending masculine domination. by contrast. which may unite the strange bedfellows of Left intellectuals and ordinary workers. such as the black Afro-American. Indeed. Rosa Parkes. social power is a prerequisite to influential speech and non-standard forms are permanently excluded from this. For the fundamental aspect of this Bourdieusian theoretical insistence is his recognition not of the impossibity but of the fragility of a “symbolic revolution”. it is my view that Butler’s theory itself adopts the other extreme of an over. dynamic response to linguistic variation can only occur as a consequence of a whole set of shifts and restructurations of the balance of social forces between both classes and races.
it reduces gender to a voluntaristic schema of action. women still possess a countervailing power to manipulate men by ruses and the use of magic. finally. Alexander. the role of critique and parody within the artistic sphere. Third . Instead. making the harnessing together of contradictions more difficult (Bourdieu. and. For example. Determinism and Reflexivity I want finally to conclude with the long debate over Bourdieu’s determinism ( see. In my view this is based on an over-simplification. based on an easy game of discourses and their combative confrontation . But the issue of determinism is a crucial one in that it is in this arena that Bourdieu has been consistently accused of underemphasising the opportunities for agency. all gain their effectiveness from operating as aids to reflexivity. for example. Similarly his student. to the attractive appeal of the martyr role. differentiated by gender. 1994).possibility of change becoming bypassed into sectional interests rather than adopting a wider “universalistic” framework. most being acts which aid the established power of the dominants. In the last analysis humans possess reflexivity. There are some naive feminists who have seen Bourdieu’s sociology as drawing an illegitimate emphasis on women’s complicity with masculine domination (Armengaud. They thus create vital areas of “indeterminacy” where a . It should be noted that Judith Butler’s appeal to the good conscience and good faith of the liberal avoids any consideration of the realpolitik of historical interests and their embeddedness within certain institutional forms. (1998a: 38). rational use of power to resist the various forms of determination linked to the social colonisation of the unconscious.and most pressing . Sandrine Garcia. 1988: 178-80). which ignores more complex themes. even if in performing these acts they are held to reveal their own supposed inferiority. cross-class movement depending on the democracy of personal testimonial to a movement dominated by those with cultural and social capital (Garcia. the force of a scientific socioanalysis. Bourdieu remarks that in the canonical example of Kabylia.Bourdieu’s sociology brings to light the all too frequent historical experience of the “ghettoisation” of oppositional ideas. Reflexivity is precisely the conscious. 1993: 87-8). Such movements can come to express within any given field the specific resentments and antagonistic relationships of a dominated fraction of the dominant class as well as those of the subordinate class. The debunking ethos of carnival and pub in the area of popular culture. so that they are preserved at the level of rhetoric to which only lip-service is paid (hence his theory of the Church and the Museum). It is absolutely fundamental to note in this context that Bourdieu always insists that his theory of practice is not a theory of total determination. These range from the body’s little acts of routinised discipline. has described the internal narrowing of feminism from a broad. 1995).
Distinction. of course. especially given his warnings about ways in which patriarchal societies might be rationalised in the interests of domination. if his magnum opus. path-breaking agency can take place. his more recent works have been written with a greater sense of political urgency.8. the collusion of some women (cf Krais. plebeian intellectuals has been to serve as crucial conduits. yet he is now in an embattled position in France. in the sphere of gender. Indeed. transmitting the marginalised ideas arising within the religious and academic fields to the mass of the subordinate classes. However. with its fracturing of the petty-bourgeoisie and its increased allure of market seductions. The historical experience of women prompts them to become agents of such a transformation. Bourdieu is increasingly seen in Anglo-American thought as perhaps the most significant living social scientist.98 and Libération 28.“logic of flux” takes over and a more active.8. we should defend his achievements. Conclusion Bourdieu’s theories are realist in that they force us to understand the difficulties of change. offers a classically disenchanted portrayal of a new. These derive from a more prophetic polemical intervention against neo-liberalism and risk a more “rational utopian” alternative. the role of “defrocked priests” and uprooted.98). I have argued above that we need to examine closely what he teaches us about the interaction of gender and material interests. 1993). In my view. He has helped found an États Généraux of oppositional forces that might undertake the necessary work of challenge and confrontation in order to avert the return of barbarism (1998b:52). post-Keynesian mode of reproduction. Recalling certain key Republican reforms of the Third Republic (1870-1914) as a French heritage. his own position as an authority has recently been challenged as a form of “intellectual terrorism” (Le Monde. in order to challenge what he calls the “technocracy” and the “bankers’ economic realism” (1998b: 26). Bourdieu nevertheless now argues for a new Europeanism and a new Internationalism. including. but. 27. Historically. with a critical gaze! .
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especially on women’s attempted resistance to the break-up of the former Yugoslavia. for example. black pudding and pates (1998a: 36-7) The significance of the exclusion of women from the martial arts lies precisely in their exclusion from the supreme sacrifice of individual death for the collectivity. Bourdieu’s concen for the sociological and anthropological analysis of the body places him in the traditions of Feuerbach. Bourdieu suggests that there have indeed been shifts between “private” and “public” patriarchy: however. it is this gender division which has been so significant in legitimating masculine power and which has been so conspicuously absent in the democracies of post-war Europe. But on the questions of nationalism.see British Feminist Thought. Bourdieu argues that it is rather a strategic choice of action to be grasped beyond the level of the purely calculative consciousness but not. and the late bourgeois or modern sense of the body as delicately exposed like filaments of an electric bulb (Ferguson: 1997). Sennett etc) receive little elaboration in this theory. where she argues that the abnegation of their creativity is an internal matter of women’s consciousness (as opposed to an external constraint). rather than a historical theory to explain the range and source of variations. see Cynthia Ensloe.The phrase is Terry Lovell’s . It goes without saying that Bourdieu’s similar break with the mind-body dualism inherent in the Cartesian project is a welcome development. the struggles over bearing arms and gender divisions. Durkheim and Hertz (on the left hand). which has persisted into the twentieth century and which has been associated particularly with modern nationalist and authoritarian regimes (1998a: 94-5). not men. State-registered gendering of activities. Bourdieu recalls a similar division of labour from his childhood in the agricultural area of Bearn. It might be added here that Bourdieu rejects the sort of argument that Greer adopts in her The Obstacle Race. such as military service. Such choices are located rather in the semi-unconscious fit of practice with th e actor’s gender habitus (1990: 11). spending a leisurely day afterwards relaxing with cards. But perhaps the most important historical exposition of the profound impact of different world-visions on the body is proposed by Ferguson: see especially his contrast between the early bourgeois sense of the body as a hermetically-sealed container impermeable to outside influence. implicitly cutting across her classification. who has stressed especially the control of the female body through medieval exercises in asceticism and (with different cosmological significance) bourgeois women’s hysteria and use of corsetry (see The Body and Society). His earlier work certainly resonates with depictions of Kabylean women which pinpoint their divergence from the Western canonical bourgeois pattern . Bourdieu’s conception of the human body as substantially formed by “society in the mind”gives his modelling of gender divisions a depth which Turner never quite .1990. Akin to Sylvia Walby. where it is the men who undertake the dramatic act of pig-sticking. whereas the women are endlessly busy preparing the sausages.it is they who monopolise the profane task of selling at the market. he identifies a public. which is aimed at a socioanalysis to counter the amnesia of structural constants. at the other extreme. The body has been read as the site of social representations in the work of BrianTurner. to be mechanically linked to the demands of the economy or the State. Donzelot. Historically. while a cultural ethos celebrating their capacity for productive labour unites rural Bearn with rural Kabylia. segmenting these forms of patriarchy from those based on women’s conspicuous leisure or specialised consumption of symbolic goods.But the bourgeois conception of the private sphere and the “family-household ideology“ (Barrett and MacIntosh.
or restriction within certain professions. see Walby. Goffman’s stress on the bodily signs (tie signs in the couple etc. younger as well as older children. Bourdieu concludes his Actes article on masculine domination by arguing that so long as distinction is cast in the form of social distinction to be gained by a competitive struggle against the forces of nature. In brief masculine domination is merely a specific form of a wider phenomenon of deprecatory distinction. For a different (and more persuasive) interpretation. This claim as to the underlying logic of women’s paid labour has had its critics. that the full impact of the dual income is most apparent. eternises and homogenises femininity in the interests of a dominant gender. Although. On this point. It is precisely in the upper sections of the service class (or. in relation to the dominant class. in French terms.suggests that there are instructive parallels within his distinctive brand of structuralism and that of Bourdieu’s theory of practice. which Bourdieu’s discussion evokes. ethnographic study shows that working-class women continue to experience their femininity as a burdensome responsibility (Skeggs. This is also an over-generalisation. 1979/80: 153). The increasing number of titles (cultural capital) possessed by all the heirs . 1997). Skeggs again points out that “class has almost disappeared from feminist analyses. we might talk of Mother Courage (see also MacDonald. even those claiming a materialist feminist position“ (1997:6). Bourdieu has paid homage to the work of Erving Goffman. which assesses the nature of reification in history and which quotes specifically from Elias’s historical sociology. women will be consigned to an inferior role (1990:31). It seems to me that women’s experience of previously male middle-class habitus(es) has tended to make them less sensitive. alongside the demand that a proportion of the nonheirs be given titles. where rewards from single salaries alone are upwards of £100.girls as well as boys. As well as the Madonna image. In such games of distinction women are invoked both as symbolic goods in themselves and as representatives of an inverted economy of symbolic goods which naturalises. the “State nobility” or haute bourgeoisie). as in his prophetic Gender Advertisements.000. .) that betray the state of inner relationships (Relations in Public) and on the somatisation of the body to display regulated gender. It should be added that the cosmologies and thus the languages of precapitalist societies are more profoundly ordered by gender divisions than are those of capitalist modernity (Bourdieu. all create a tendency to “overproduction”(1996a: 287). working-class masculinityhas become more “abject” as the last refuge of machismo.1990:13). more resilient and closer to the “strong women” of many regional working class cultures. See especially Bourdieu’s Le Mort et le Vif (1980). see also Pollert (1981). who identifies a marked reduction in segregation by gender overall (1997:37) and emphasises the role of women’s cheaper productive labour within the successive “rounds of capitalist restructuring” (ch. thus marking himself off from many of his French colleagues. 3) rather than their specialised presentation or sale of symbolic goods.achieves and which owes much to the sociological interpretations of the somatised body proposed by Elias.
although it does distinguish between manual workers’ options (eg staying in the parental home longer than liked ) and middle class options (eg moving together earlier than planned) (1994: 671). resources on the market. and appropriation of. To this picture of cross-class activities. The authors restrict their analysis to conscious decisions. Although Runciman notes that the improvements of the manual working-class didn’t end the poverty of 5. nurses and drugs counsellors. however few.This is a shorthand for a variety of different class fractions which occupy a position of superiority as regards control over. acceptance of certain undesirable types of work. 109) They remark that the fact that“[O]ver a third of middle-class households employ domestic waged labour in some form or another seems to testify to the crisis in daily social reproduction within middle-class households in Britain and to the reconstitution of domestic work on class lines” (1995:155). and there are of course a diversity of personality patterns and consequent needs. and what was certainly an advance on the part of manual workers.” (1995:159). was enough by itself to exacerbate their fears of a decline in terms of traditional middle-class standards.” (89) “[T]he working-class might not feel themselves to be the equal of the rich but they did not feel themselves to be their servants either” (Runciman. although it is of course an empirical question as to whether women’s experience of jobs in the commercialised service or production sectors is more favourable. Indeed. There is no necessary engine of history ensuring that women workers in the service sector will always have access to significantly greater material and power resources thanin domestic service. The knowledge that manual workers. our research provides evidence for --. a class-mediated hierarchy of domestic tasks is once more being constructed. . and was compatible with the top 10% owning 79% of the wealth (1954) Runciman (87. although they accept that it would be possible also to include unconscious strategies based on cultural transmission. masculine “right hand” (Bourdieu. could now earn upwards of £20 a week and be the possessors not merely of television sets but of motor cars. 1998a:95).. “feminine” “left hand” of the State against its neo-liberal. They also point out the consequences of the changes: “Such observations suggest that we may be witnessing the collapse of the post-war association in Britain between all women and all domestic tasks. he states the significance of middle-class responses in these terms: “Given this general belief. who represent the compassionate. I would agree with these remarks. It should be noted that this research did not study the service class (or grande bourgeoisie) specifically. social workers. we should mention the frequent experience of “burn out” amongst teachers. heaviest and most physically-demanding and/or labour-intensive tasks to working-class women. This research emphasises numerous strategies in realising aspirations for housing such as delays in having children.. there is nothing surprising in the resentments voiced by members of the middle classes. although that has been the more general experience when such work has been contrasted in the past. etc. 89).4% of the whole pop.the transfer of the dirtiest. Bourdieu’s concept of habitus allows us to dispense with this dichotomy.
Glasgow [I am grateful to Terry Lovell for letting me see the full version prior to publication]) Armengaud also condemns Bourdieu’s Distinction and the Actes article on La Domination Masculine for approprating the work of many French feminist scholars.1985). The exception is his affirmation of the work of the performance artist. Bourdieu remarks that Butler seems herself to have given up the view that gender transformation is like putting on a new set of clothes.are thanked for their support in the critique of such sometimes spectacular misuses (Sokal and Bricmont:1998:xiii ).Armstrong ‘s weakness is to also display the tendency of Foucauldians to eliminate the elements of dissidence and tension within such “discourses”. Hans Haacke(see (with Haacke) Free Exchange. (1998a:110n) The absence in his work of any extended analysis of contemporary cultural production which has operated as a transformative weapon for change does not alter this point. or even meaningless. It might be noted here that Bourdieu . mathematical theory and theoretical physics. T. This may be due to a distancing of his scholarly work from some of the practices current in French philosophy and social science which have permitted the spurious. without citation. a development of the market analogous to the seventeenth century Spanish monarchs’ instrumental use of mass culture (Maravall. .(1997) Passing. See also Lovell’s opposition of Bourdieu and Butler and her skilful navigation of a passage between their incompatible accounts of masculine domination (Lovell. Bourdieu Conference. inclusion of references to formal logic. citing her Bodies that Matter. At the risk of comparing dissimilar histories. I would argue that there is a parallel between the disenchantment typical of the “mentalité” of the baroque and the disillusionment of Distinction (and other contemporary texts) as they depict the “baroque stage” of late capitalism. 1995).and other French scholars .
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