The sociologist and the return of the repressed

Pierre Bourdieu, Méditations pascaliennes, Al Liber, Seuil, 1997, p 13

“The sociologist has the peculiarity, not a privilege, to be the one who has the task to say things in the social world, and to say, as much as possible, as they are : nothing that normal, trivial even, in this. What makes the situation paradoxical, sometimes impossible, it is the fact that he is surrounded by people who either ignore (actively) the social world and not talk about it, and I’ll be the last to blame the artists, to writers, to scientists, to be everything to their business – or worry about it and talk about it, sometimes a lot, but without knowing much of anything. […]

Thus, when he simply does what he has to do, the sociologist breaks the circle enchanted the denial collective: working on the return of the repressed, trying to know and do know what the universe of knowledge does not want to know, especially about itself, he takes the risk of appearing as the one that sells the wick. But who then, if not to those whom, in so doing, it distances itself and which it cannot expect the recognition for her discoveries, revelations or confessions (necessarily a little perverse, I must admit, since they are also valid, by proxy, to all his fellow) ? ”

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