Bourdieu's Belief That Education Within The Capitalist Society Promotes Social Stratification

2135 words - 9 pages

Bourdieu's work is considered as some of the deepest and most revealing in modern times. His ability to perceive the world in which he lives is extraordinary, displaying knowledge of many fields ranging from politics, anthropology, history and of course sociology. He focused, among other sociological aspects, on the sociology of education; central in his analysis of the topic is the perpetuation of class power through education. How this power is passed on and the ways to counteract the trend are the main issues of his argument. The analysis will focus on these themes; precisely on the hypocrisies of education within the capitalist society and how this efficiently and willingly leads to social stratification. Along with Bourdieu's angle of thought the views of other socially interested individuals will be examined; this is to better explain the Frenchman's concepts or to offer a different view.It is essential when understanding such a capable mind and such concepts to contextualize these Bourdieuian ideas into the current situation of the time. The political and social transition his country was going through played an important role in shaping the views of the French thinker.In France in the 60's there was an undisputed need for social reconstruction and when de Gaulle rose to power he set off in doing just that. Soon it emerged, though, that the kind of reconstruction would be very different from that envisaged by the Left, which drew much inspiration from the revolutionary programme that was emerging in Algeria (Robbins, 1991). During the years in which Bourdieu was undertaking his educational research de Gaulle's political authority was consolidated. Bourdieu always showed a great interest in Algerian politics and social life. He drew many conclusions on how higher education and political change might be carried out by analyzing Algerian models (Robbins, 1991). The Marxist theory of construction of social space exerted an important influence on his thought from the early years of his career. Such ideas lead Bourdieu to be both a theorist and an activist, believing that this dualism was the only way of achieving concrete goals. He was against the "ivory tower" view of the mere theoretical sociology, which imprisoned many sociologists and did not allow them to become play-makers in society. As believed also by Marx, in modern society there was a tendency to emphasize substance at the expense of relations, and this lead Bourdieu to theoretical class as a real class, an effectively mobilized group (Bourdieu, LANguage+symbol). Along with Marx he also perceived economics as a concept which reduces the social field, a multidimensional space, to the economic field alone where the only relation that matters is that of the economic production. This multidimensional space mentioned is constructed on the basis of principles of differentiation or distribution which are constituted by a set of active properties in the social universe; they are able to...

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