10th Anniversary of Pierre Bourdieu

Source: GESTIO SCIRE OMNIA. By Javier Rujas (23/01/2012).

Today marks ten years of the death of sociologist Pierre Bourdieu (1930-2002).

10º Aniversario de Pierre Bourdieu
Tomb of Pierre Bourdieu in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. Photo: J. Rujas

In the weeks since, its happening in France, the tributes and special dedicated to the figure of Pierre Bourdieu within and outside the academy, without too much echo in Spain (except for the acts localized organized by the CBA).

Could say a thousand things about him and his work, but I will simply say four things, perhaps not too original, but that it is not a recall -at least, that I’m left-, trying to avoid the simple alternative between the pure worship ritual (“Life and work of St. Peter”) and the rejection front, as well as the list of hits and critical ritualizadas -that we are taught in the university before even having read a page of yours-. In fact, it may be useless to write this because I sincerely believe that the best homage to Bourdieu is left of debates, scholastic and test the tools that he left us in our research and day-to-day.

1. A sociologist off-road. If something defines Bourdieu is that impulse to do sociology all, of any phenomenon, from the smallest gesture of daily interactions to the most vast spaces of relations and macro-social facts. And it to points perhaps pathological, if we think, for example, in the description of the field work that preceded The Distinction (the pleasure of following unknown people on the street, imagining their lives, of listening to conversations in bars, cafés, etc; see his Self-analysis of a sociologist, 2004). Just take a look at his bibliography to be surprised not only of the amount of work that took place, but the diversity of areas and phenomena that he studied, rejecting the narrowness imposed by the specialization in sub-disciplines (since the crisis and transformations of the traditional society in Kabylia and in his Bearn natal to the genesis and structures of the artistic field, through the educational system, the religious field, the taste and the hierarchies of cultural, the structures of the economy and the housing market, the television and journalism, language, politics or the State). If you can see this fact as an attitude of “imperialist” or as the excessive greed of the “sociologist total” (not to be confused with the “todólogo” that certainly was not), his Autonálisis and some of the testimonies seem to relate to their passion for research, with the pleasure almost obsessive exploration of new fields and objects, and with the need that I felt to say the things that I thought I had to say, revealing the complex ways in which others seemed to not notice, but also to defend you in the intellectual field -and in the end a space of struggle and competition – a conception of sociology and of the work that sociological thought is a minority (a critical sociology and “scientific” -critical because scientific-, independent of the “mother” philosophy, and opposite both the large empty speeches as empiricism without ambition to theoretical; a sociology of the “unveiling”, based on a systematic work of theoretical production and empirical research; the project of the craft of The sociologist, 1968) that accompanied in addition to an intention -more or less naive and questionable – “to unite sociology” (Passeron would later, according to Weber, the methodological pluralism irreducible of the social sciences; The sociological reasoning, 1991), and that sociology was no longer a “science of paria”.

2. An investigator is methodical, systematic, resourceful and reflective. As Wright Mills, Bourdieu defended always a research that does not separate the theories of the methods, the considerations of epistemological, the methodological and technical (even the most sensitive like “chop” data, code variables, etc, it seemed of first importance, and as carriers of budgets implied as the more “high” theoretical elaboration, let us remember the distrust that was well-known in the craft of The sociologist to the “false neutrality of the techniques”). In addition to defending a research-guided, theoretically, but always empirically founded (mobilized materials empirical up to in his works, more theoretical, as The practical sense), Bourdieu did not confine in any procedure or protocol fixed of research (sadly, in practice, sociologists adapt-reduce – the research methodology to what they do, rather than what they want to study; your know knowledge in techniques of research rather than its object), combining techniques, inventing and innovating when it was considered timely to respond to their specific problems of research (think, for instance, in its adoption, epistemologically reasoned, the analysis of correspondences , which helped popularize in sociology-although their use remains limited, in front of what came to be called the “fallacy multivariable” -regression – in Playback; or in the imagination that it took to analyze the comments that the teachers of the Ecole Normale Supérieure made to their students in their assessments, the letters of recommendation or obituaries of former students of the school to explore “the categories of The understanding faculty” -work done with Monique de Saint-Martin). Not only resigned to the mechanical application and formal techniques to their objects, but in addition is demanded and practiced in their research continuous reflexivity (understood as the “objectification of the subject of objectivation”, that is to say, the analysis of the own investigator to investigate), which he understood as an integral part and essential to the research process.

3. “The proper name of a collective enterprise”, according to the expression of François de Singly. Bourdieu was part of a pioneer in the 60’s and 70’s a collective way of organizing the work of research, attracting around him a group of collaborators and students at the Center of Sociology in europe (J.-C. Passeron, R. Castel, J.-C. Chamboredon, L. Boltanski, Y. Delsaut, M. de Saint-Martin, etc). A group that saw itself as the “conductor” -a profession which at some time thought exercise, in a relationship at the same time hierarchical (in terms of division of labour, effect of age and charismatic domination), but relaxed and close with his co-workers (frequently present in their research, but hidden in the publications under his signature), and that with the years would be forced to pick up the pieces (in particular, with the departure of the older members in the 70’s, in search of his own path). Working in a group was endowed in addition to a magazine of their own that lasts up to our days (Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, founded in 1975) and served as a platform to publish work-in-progress (Bourdieu bothered him a lot this idea that it should be published only texts “finished” once and for all, the texts about those who never will return, in place of texts is provisional subject to revision; in fact, several of his works were conceived in the pages of the magazine first to base of small items). Beyond justice or injustice to their co-workers, your points of closeness or shock -on the other hand are unavoidable in any work-group, I would like to highlight is the character necessarily collective of your research work and the incredible productivity -in terms of knowledge, and without to demystify the group by the group – that may have a group of research integrated, with an internal solidarity and a certain common conception of their work.

4. A current thought. Everything I have said up to now it seems to me a sufficient sample of the timeliness of the work of Bourdieu to the craft of the sociologist and the social sciences in general (as it shows its import in the field of sociolinguistics, political science, cultural history or economics critique). But what is also without doubt due to the big “box of tools” that leaves anyone who wants to analyze the society in which they live, valid not only in the field of social sciences or the academy, but in a multiplicity of fields of practice, and in particular in the social movements: “If the sociologist has a role, it is rather to give weapons to give lessons”. Especially today, I think, but do not make a lot of case, are his critique of the political representation (what he called the “mystery of ministry“) and the dispossession citizen in front of the professionals of politics, his critique of liberalism (some of the commentators on the radio station France Culture were this week in calling him a “indignant” -“If the world to me is bearable is because I can make a stand,” he once said-, or present the predictions of his time more militant on the extension of neo-liberalism -which made him earn the discredit of many – as something made today), or his analysis of the political role of the intellectuals (more favorable, like Foucault, to the “intellectual specific” to the “intellectual total” which for him embodied Sartre, or the “prophet”), all issues that deserve a review more in-depth. In this sense, their relevance resides, not as much, or not only, on the validity or not of your thesis and its works, but in the ability of the weapons that he leaves us to understand our reality-to be followed by testing, developing, modifying or desechándose-, to look at it another way, and, following what he called a “utopianism realistic” -attentive to the social conditions of the possibility of change, find the ways to transform it.

Paris, January 23, 2012

New: Courses on the State

Coinciding with the anniversary, on the 5th of January, were published in French as a posthumous work the courses that He taught on the State in your chair at the Collège de France between 1989 and 1992, gathered and edited under the direction of Patrick Champagne, Remi Lenoir, Franck Poupeau, and Marie-Christine Rivière:

Pierre Bourdieu, Sur l’état. Cours au Collège de France (1989-1992), Paris, Editions du Seuil and Raisons d Agir, 2012, 672 p.

As a foretaste, you can read two excerpts in French in Le monde diplomatique, or in Spanish here: “How to form public opinion“, “The two faces of the State“.

Links on Bourdieu in English:
Sociology is a combat sport. Documentary from Pierre Carles about P. Bourdieu, 2001, 1h 19min, in French with subtitles in Spanish. In 15 parts on Youtube; full-on GoogleVideos.

Exhibition “Pierre Bourdieu. Images of Algeria“. Madrid, Círculo de Bellas Artes, Sala Goya, until 15 January 2012. Was accompanied by the congress, the office of The sociologist. The legacy of Pierre Bourdieu, the days 12, 13 and 14 December 2011, in which participated Lahourai Addi, Aïssa Kadri, Luis Enrique Alonso, Ildefonso Marqués Perales, Enrique Martín Criado, José Luis Moreno Tab and Mario Dominguez.

How to shape the public opinion and The two sides of the State. Two texts of the sociologist, including in South l’etat, published by Le monde diplomatique as a foretaste of the book.

The intellectual agitator. Interview with Pierre Bourdieu in the magazine Ajoblanco, 1999.

Conference of Rémi Lenoir: “Pierre Bourdieu 10 years after: cultural legitimacy and social stratification”. Permanent seminar on Culture and Social Representations of the UNAM, 21/10/2011.

Pierre Bourdieu: a chronology (pp. 13-29). Very complete chronology of the life and work of the sociologist, including in the chapter of presentation of Pierre Bourdieu: the tools of the sociologist, edited by Luis Enrique Alonso, Enrique Martín Criado, and Jose Luis Moreno Pestaña, Madrid, Fundamentos, 2004.

Entries on Bourdieu in the blog Sociology Contemporary with plenty of information and material.

Small vocabulary bourdieuano. Collection of quotes from the author, illustrating its key concepts.

In French:

Pierre Bourdieu. A hommage. Blog dedicated to the figure of the sociologist and brings together countless bibliographical references (by topic, by authors), videos and materials of interest, events, etc

Penser l’etat avec Pierre Bourdieu. International conference around the publication of the courses of Bourdieu on the State, organized by the Centre of Sociology European (CSE-CESSP). January 23, 2010, Collège de France, Paris (where I hope to be when we post this entry).

Bourdieu et le politique. Seminar of the laboratory Sophiapol of the University of Paris Ouest – Nanterre – La Défense, organized by Philippe Combessie, Stéphane Dufoix, Christian Laval and Christian Lazzeri. December 2011 – may 2012.

La fabrique des debates publics and Les deux faces de l’etat. Two texts of the sociologist, including in South l’etat, published by Le monde diplomatique as a foretaste of the book.

Pierre Bourdieu (1930-1992), radio program, Une vie, une oeuvre de Mathieu Garrigou-Lagrange. France Culture. With interventions of Robert Castel, Luc Boltanski, Philippe Coulangeon, Gisèle Sapiro, Annick Coupé, Thomas Ferenczi, André Miquel and Tassadit Yacine. January 7, 2012. 60 min.

The notion d habitus chez Pierre Bourdieu. Interview with Nathalie Heinich, a disciple of Bourdieu and sociologist of art, about the notion ofhabitus in the program Le Nouveaux chemins de la connaissance de Adèle Van Reeth. January 13, 2012. 59 min.

Les cours sur l Etat de Pierre Bourdieu. Special program The suite dans les idées, Sylvain Bourmeau, in France Culture, with the participation of Pierre Encrevé, linguista and art historian, friend of Bourdieu. January 21, 2012. 30 min.

Pierre Bourdieu décrypteur du réel. Week devoted to Bourdieu in the programme Hors-champs of Laure Adler. With the participation of Roger Chartier, Luc Boltanski, Didier Eribon, Nathalie Heinich and Bernard Lahire.

Fragments of interviews with Bourdieu (1988, 1990, 1992). Archives INA. France Culture. 3 min 35.

Bourdieu, cours toujours. Special of the daily newspaper Libération devoted to the sociologist.

Homme-Moderne. Texts, interviews and material dedicated to the author.

Lexique bourdieusien. Dictionary of the terms used by Bourdieu through quotations from his texts.

(Thanks to Sociology Contemporary, and Pierre Bourdieu. A hommage for the greater part of the links and information)


By Javier Rujas (23/01/2012). Original article: http://gestioscireomnia.blogspot.com/2012/01/pierre-bourdieu.html

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