Monday, November 13, 2017

Pierre Bourdieu - short summary of ideas

Pierre Bourdieu looked at how the cultural elite convince the rest of society that they are special, and how this keeps them in power Bourdieu's theory on consumption holds that people consume to show their social status. Bourdieu also did work on Capital, but found the economic definition too narrow. Bourdieu said you cannot become rich overnight: you need to accumulate capital. Three forms: Economic capital. This is defined by property rights. Cultural capital. It is connected to knowledge, and takes three forms: Embodied knowledge (knowledge that is a part of you), objectified form (things people use to furnish their living environment) and institutionalised form (titles, diplomas). Social Capital. Resources that you can mobilise by knowing someone. The three forms of capital can be interchanged, but sometimes there are barriers. People show their differences in capital: Distinction. Bourdieu also coined the idea of Habitus. It connects action and structure: laws of fields are inscribed into human agents (Structured), but they are responsible for reproducing these laws (Structuring). It defines your future choices. In his book, Distinction, Bourdieu tried to measure the class struggles. He found a relationship between social class and taste, and how this permeates all aspects of people’s lives (see habitus). The elite have accumulated cultural capital over time and have a higher cultural competence (ability to understand works of art). Nowadays, class differences are smaller, and high-brow culture has been popularised. The concepts he used are still valid though.

See summaries of Bourdieu's work:
Pierre Bourdieu – The Historical Genesis of the Pure Aesthetic - summary and review
Distinction / Bourdieu

Suggested reading on Bourdiue: