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Discuss The Relationship Between Culture And Power In Bourdieus Work

1915 words - 8 pages

Discuss the relationship between culture and power in Bourdieus workPierre Bourdieu is regarded as being one of the most important thinkers in modern European history. His work is hugely respected not only in the field of Sociology; he is also a well respected Anthropologist and Philosopher. Bourdieu was born in France in 1930, the son of a Postmaster. He came from quite a poor backdrop, and was very conscious of his class background, which may explain why class and social status was one of the key areas of his work. He deals with many different areas in his work, applying various theories such as Habitus, Field and Capital to the different areas he studies. One of the main aims in his work was to show structures of domination and how they worked 'struggles for recognition are a fundamental dimension of social life' (Bourdieu, 1990:22). His analyses of culture and power and the relationship between the two of them is a fascinating and multidimensional area of his work, and will be the main focus of this essay.First of all I think it is important to briefly clarify some of Bourdieus phrases, which he uses constantly as tools for analysing the social world. Firstly, Habitus is described as 'an acquired system of generative schemes objectively adjusted to the particular conditions in which it is constituted' (Jenkins, 1992:74) or put more simply is 'the mental structures through which they (Agents) apprehend the social world' (Bourdieu, 1990: 130/31). Secondly, a field 'is a social arena within which struggles or manoeuvres take place over specific resources or stakes and access to them.' (Jenkins, 1992:84). Lastly comes Capital, of which he believed there were 4 types: Economic Capital, Cultural Capital, Social Capital and Symbolic Capital. The two most basic of these forms are Economic Capital and Cultural Capital. By Economic Capital Bourdieu was referring to material and financial assets, whereas Cultural Capital consisted of scarce symbolic goods, educational credentials and titles. In order to make it clearer what exactly he meant by these terms, he included a detailed diagram in his 1979 work, Distinction. In this diagram he showed where different agents (people) with different professions and backgrounds were situated in social space. While some people have high levels of Economic Capital, others have high levels of Cultural Capital. Generally speaking they are inversely related-the more of one, the less of the other. While it is unusual to have high levels of both, there are exceptions. Business owners would traditionally have high levels of Economic Capital, but low levels of Cultural Capital. University lecturers on the other hand, would have high levels of Cultural Capital and low levels of Economic Capital. Occasionally, some Professionals might have high levels of both. The concept is an unusual and intricate one, with no real fixed points, as Agents can move around social space, realigning themselves in relation to Bourdieus diagram....

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