Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Symbolic Capital Part 2

Bourdieu discusses what “…appears to be a universal property of human experience, namely, the fact that the familiar world tends to be ‘taken for granted,’ perceived as natural. If the social world tends to be perceived as evident….this is because the dispositions of agents, their habitus, that is, the mental structures through which they apprehend the social world, are essentially the product of internalization of the structures of that world” (Bourdieu 1989, p.18).

As mentioned in the previous paragraph the movement needs to make the current symbolic representation of reality ‘strange’. Specifically, it needs to redesign the theory of the ‘good life’, ‘progress’, ‘success’ and the purpose of human societies and most important the education system in human societies. It needs to question and deconstruct and then reconstruct how education fits into this new world vision, what it means to get a good education, what productive knowledge is and how symbolic capital is produced. The movement also needs to reclassify the symbolic representations of nature, consumption, economy, industry, and social equity relations.

Bourdieu describes how symbolic struggles such as this develop. He says that these struggles are a negotiation of personal and group identity as well as the negotiation of descriptions and explanations for social phenomena and social structures and who has the power to define and describe. He tells us that

“Symbolic struggles over the perception of the social world may take two different forms. On the objective side, one may act by actions of representation, individual or collective, meant to display and to throw into relief certain realities: I am thinking for instance of demonstrations whose goal is to exhibit a group, it’s size, it’s strength, it’s cohesiveness to make it exist visibly…On the subjective side, one may act by trying to transform categories of perception and appreciation of the social world, the cognitive and evaluative structures through which it is constructed. The categories of perception, the schemata of classification, that is, essentially, the words, the names which construct social reality as much as they express it, are the stake par excellence of political struggle, which is a struggle to impose the legitimate principle of vision and division, i.e., a struggle over the legitimate exercise of what I call the ‘theory effect.’” (Bourdieu 1989, p. 20-21).

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