Thursday, 2 October 2008

Bourdieu, Homo Academicus

Bourdieu, Homo Academicus, 1984, Polity Press

Throughout this book, Bourdieu uses the phrase "in short" at the start of some of the longest, convoluted sentences I have ever seen. Definitely a close relative of Humphrey Appleby’s

I've quoted some relevant bits here. A couple I paraphrased because a single idea took two pages (but only 4 sentences) for Bourdieu to say.

"As authorities, whose position in social space depends principally on the possession of cultural capital, a subordinate form of capital, university professors are situated rather on the side of the subordinate pole of the field of power and are clearly opposed in this respect to the managers of industry and business. But, as holders of an institutionalised form of cultural capital, which guarantees them a bureaucratic career and a regular income, they are opposed to writers and artists: occupying a temporally dominant position in the field of cultural production, they are distinguished by this fact, to differing degrees according to the faculties…from the less institutionalised and more heretical …as opposed to those who belong to the university." (36)

"The academic managers…produce works of a tone and style which combine the neutrality of a positivist account with the blandness of a bureaucratic report, in order to obtain the effect of respectability necessary to cloak the recommendations of the expert with the authority of science" (124)

"The wage earners of research…can no longer surround themselves with the charismatic aura which attached to the traditional writer or professor, small producers exploiting their own independent cultural capital, which tends to be seen as a divine gift. This is all the more the case since the products of the new research work often bear the mark of the conditions in which they were accomplished: these ‘reports’ and ‘accounts’, often drafted in haste to meet a deadline, according to the standardised norms of mass productions, and, because of the need to justify the funds spent, bound to sacrifice all to display the amount of work done." (125)

One unbelievably long sentence that says that the old university system was dependent on its hierarchies to reproduce those hierarchies, replaced by a new system that is: “a plurality of worlds controlled by different laws for the unified world of differences produced by one dominant hierarchical principle”. (125)

Regarding May 1968: “…the propensity of the various professors to associate defence of the teaching community with a defence of the protected market which ensures them a strictly controlled academic public varies with the degree to which the value of their products depends on the stability of the market, or, in other words, with the degree to which their competence – that is, their specific capital – depends on the statutory guarantee conferred by the institution. (126)

“At the time of the crisis of May 1968, the conflict…did not oppose generations understood in the sense of age but academic generations” (147)

“…children who have come from the dominant class and who have not managed ro reconvert their inhereited capital into academic capital … In short [which, frankly is a phrase that can never apply to Bourdieu in Homo Academicus] In short, the specific contradiction in the mode of reproduction in its educational aspects, which can only contribute to the reproduction of its class by eliminating with their consent a number of its members, takes on an increasingly critical form with the growing numbers of those who see their chances of reproduction threatened and who, refusing to accept their exclusion, find themselves falling back on a protest against the legitimacy of the instrument of their exclusion, which threatens the whole of their class by attacking one of the bases of its perpetuation." [In short] 163)

May 1968: politicisation is the process where politics dominates all other types of thought, excitements and tendencies to classify mean individuals identify in groups they did not belong to before and separates them from groups they formerly did (breaking up the disciplines and reforming groups according to politics). But Bourdieu takes a couple of pages to say it and I couldn’t find a short enough quote. (190-191)

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