KNOWING WHAT YOU'RE DOING
A Review of Pierre Bourdieu's Outline of a Theory of Practice
Gregory L. Acciaioli
Canberra Anthropology IV: 1 1981, pp. 23-51
Situating theory: knowing and practising
Knowledge, however interesting, can never be disinterested. Modes of explanation need themselves to be explained in terms of the biases and purposes generating them. Given this realization, an apprehension embedded in our intellectual tradition since at least the sophists, explanatory accounts and the often implicit styles of understanding that inform them have inevitably generated critiques that seek to situate such received interpretations in the specific conditions of their production. It may thus be illuminating to approach Pierre Bourdieu's Outline of a theory of practice by invoking a somewhat parallel text that sought to expose a received manner of accounting for social phenomena - Charles Dickens's Hard times. In his characterization of a particular manner of compiling knowledge - the supposedly objective statistical procedures upon which government reports in the form of ëblue booksí dealing with diplomatic matters and issues of political economy depended - Dickens highlighted the limitations of a type of knowledge Bourdieu criticizes in its more recent incarnation:
Although Mr. Gradgrind did not take after Blue Beard, his room was quite a blue chamber in its abundance of blue books. Whatever they could prove (which is usually anything you like), they proved there, in an army constantly strengthening by the arrival of new recruits. In that charmed apartment, the most complicated social questions were cast up, got into exact totals, and finally settled - if those concerned could only have been brought to know it. As if an astronomical observatory should be made without any windows, and the astronomer within should arrange the starry universe solely by pen, ink and paper, so Mr. Gradgrind, in his observatory (and there are many like it), had no need to cast an eye upon the teeming myriads of human
beings around him, but could settle all their destinies on a slate, and wipe out
all their tears with one dirty little bit of sponge.l
The compilations contained in these blue books were the product of a particular type of activity - a scientific activity their proponents termed it - rooted in a certain political and economic milieu. Dickens
radically dichotomizes the perspectives of those studied and those studying. While
the former were not given to know how all their problems had been so scientifically
resolved, the latter produced these scientific analyses not by observing the conditions
to be investigated, but simply by fiddling with their instruments. By such means
investigators retained a detached perspective producing studies not at all situated
in the conditions to be explicated. The results turned out to be merely an artefact
of the methods used and of the position of practical privilege enjoyed by such analysts
that made such an objective perspective possible. Given such a point of view they
could only muck about in the mire of compilations, elucidating only the structure
of those statistical mud pies they had themselves constructed.
Like Dickens's lament, Pierre Bourdieu's Outline of a theory of practice situates itself in opposition to contemporary accounts of society and culture. It attempts to evaluate, and at times to excoriate, not so much a particular form of analysis, but a set of presuppositions encompassing a number of approaches. These assumptions to be exposed relate both to method and the characterization of the object of study, In the course of his critique, Bourdieu takes on structuralism, neo-Marxism, ethnomethodology, symbolic interactionism and symbolic approaches modelled on hermeneutics, for all of them share the presuppositions he wishes to question. Ironically, Bourdieu's critical stance toward such theories is but one exemplification of his general rethinking of the nature of social action. The analysts engaged in such explanatory endeavours remain just as unconscious of the conditions of production of their own scientific practice as are the Kabyle peasants of Algeria with whose practice we will become familiar in the course of Bourdieu's account. This book takes as its focus not only the way natives who are the usual objects of ethnological discourse go about acting in and accounting for their social world, but also how sociological (in the widest sense) accounts construe these phenomena as objects of analysis. 2
Bourdieu grounds his analysis in a portrayal of three modes of 'scientific' knowledge, three ways of knowing the world in opposition to the practical knowledge of those who do not, indeed cannot, examine the social world in which they are embedded.
1. Phenomenological knowledge strives "to make explicit the truth of primary experience of the social world, i.e. all that is inscribed in the relationship of familiarity with the familiar environment, the unquestioning apprehension of the social world which, by definition, does
not reflect on itself and excludes the question of the conditions of its own possibility"
(p.32). The attempt to render this tacit knowledge and the ways in which it operates
explicit has largely been the project of ethnomethodology. For example, the work
of Harold Garfinkel (1967) explores the taken-for-granted grounds of everyday activities,
the conventions of understanding that allow interaction to take place in the first
place because they do not have to be consciously constructed anew for each encounter;
they simply are the conditions for the negotiation of the social world. Within the
bounds set by these unspoken parameters persons are constantly acting and interpreting
according to accounting procedures that culminate in an emergent definition of the
situation, whether processing a person as dead (see Sudnow 1967) or getting a phone
call started (see Schegloff 1968).
2. Contrasting with phenomenological knowledge is what Bourdieu labels theoretical knowledge - the construction of the objective relations that structure practice and the representations of practice. Theoretical knowledge attempts to delineate structures existing prior to persons, structures that make possible the knowledge and primary experience of those persons. A number of approaches may be characterized as attempting to construct such accounts: neo-Marxism looks to a mode of production, encompassing both forces and relations of production, which in the last analysis determines a certain social formation: structuralism uncovers the underlying oppositions that render a text, myth, or a social system intelligible; hermeneutics comprehends a ritual or literary work by constructing an interpretation. All these approaches share the same characterization of what they deal with as an object, a datum, an opus operatum rather than a modus operandi. In Bourdieu's view, this characterization arises from the very nature of the analyst's relation to the studied. The outsider, who has no place in the real play of social activities being observed, tries to elicit a representation of practices, whether from an informant, a set of aggregate statistics, or a subject (that is, in psychological research). As a result of this stance, the observer regards the object as being structured by an underlying code. All social relations are thus by definition communicative relations. The analyst's task is to decode the messages emanating from the object of analysis. Even such an approach as symbolic interactionism, which might be placed by some in the phenomenological camp given its affinities with ethnomethodology, presents a model of social interaction as guided by a script. In accordance with this script individuals assume roles requiring
certain types of routine behaviour in certain types of classifiable encounter.
In all such approaches, however, the analyst proceeds to construct some kind of repertoire
of rules to account for the system. To take the latter approach as an example, what
is presented as the elements of an analysis is a predetermined set of discourses
and actions appropriate to a particular stage or frame. Other approaches relying
on the same analytical presuppositions produce other representations - maps, grammars,
role sets, lists of ordered rules, etc. - whose specific forms may differ, but all
of which attribute a stable underlying order to social phenomena.
3. For Bourdieu, all these approaches miss the point of social life. Whether trying to comprehend native understandings or penetrate to the objective relations underlying those understandings, such accounts assume a number of characteristics, including the systematic nature of the object, communicative intent, and the predetermination of that which is to be accounted for. Bourdieu wishes to deny these assumptions by construing a practical universe situating itself not in a given objective space of north, south, east and west, but in a practical space constituted by the apprehension of right and left, up and down, in front and behind. Social behaviour is not to be accounted for in terms of a code given as a static representation, but as a continual accomplishing of actions in the implementation of natives' strategies in accordance with their practical mastery of situations. To accomplish this project, Bourdieu proposes a "theory of practice" which is to transcend the objectifying standpoint of the other two sorts of knowledge by constructing the "generative principle" of practice, by situating itself within the very movement of accomplishment. Such an account would make possible a science of the dialectical relations between objective structures (to which the objectivist mode of knowledge gives access) and the structured dispositions within which those structures are actualized and which in their actualization reproduce them.
The intent of Bourdieu's programme is clear. It is a programme crucially dependent upon a few key terms - strategies, dispositions and the habitus they constitute, generative principles and schemes, structure, style and tempo, doxa, and, of course, practice. Many of these terms are hardly new to anthropology: strategies have been discussed by Barth, principles are old hat to structure-functionalists, generative accounts are the goal of modern linguistics, and dispositions harken
back to the ideas of Culture and Personality. Such familiarity should not, however,
prejudge whether Bourdieu's use of these terms creates a truly novel account. An
evaluation of how well he carries out his programme involves examining how he uses
these terms in a number of cultural analyses, for it is in the playground of Kabyle
culture that Bourdieu sets out to display his new theoretical perspective in a number
of ethnological gambols. Yet, beyond that, one must seriously question whether the
kind of account he presumes to present is possible in the first place. Do generative
principles actually yield the key to the relations of objective structures and structured
dispositions? Or has Bourdieu given us just one rare set of terms for displaying
the features of a code?
Practising knowledge: disposing of gifts and the honourable disposition
Bourdieu's first foray involves a rethinking of the concept of exchange. According to Bourdieu, whereas Mauss, aiming for phenomenological knowledge, attempted to grasp the native experience and their theory of that experience, Lévi-Strauss's mechanical laws of the cycle of reciprocity - the principle of the unconscious obligations to give, to give in return, and to receive - exemplify theoretical knowledge in their objectification of the phenomenon of investigation. For Bourdieu, such objectification misses the very point of exchange. It constitutes as reversible a practice that agents construe in performance as irreversible. Such a characterization fails to account for how acts receive meaning retrospectively from the responses they generate. The absence of a return prestation at some point in the futures does not simply amount to a failure to respond appropriately, but in many cases may eliminate the possibility of classifying the initial transfer of an object as an opening phase of gift exchange in the first place. On the other hand, if a good of the same value is given immediately in return, we have a case of mere swapping, not a gift exchange. The explicit guarantee of goods or payment of equivalent value to be given at a particular future date constitutes the first move as a loan rather than a gift. For a gift exchange to have been inaugurated, the counter-gift must be both delayed and different. What the analyst may characterize as a reversible process must be construed by the participants as an irreversible outlay. Precisely the temporal structure of such a transaction is crucial to its negotiation as a gift exchange by the actors. Such necessity reveals the first characteristic of a strategy in Bourdieu's terms - its playing on the timing or tempo of a transaction.
It is all a question of style, which means in this case timing and the choice of occasion, for the same act - giving, giving in return, offering one's service, paying a visit, etc. - can have completely different meanings at different times, coming as it may at the right or wrong moment (p.6).
By observing a proper lag in the completion of gift exchange, social actors are able to effect the second quality of a strategy - its accomplishment of misrecognition (méconnaissance).3 The lag between actions is intrinsic to the exchange, for by this means actors conceal what the analyst in a theoretical account reveals as the reversible mechanics of exchange. Instead, they constitute it as an irreversible transaction. Were it to be perceived by the participants as inherently reversible, as would be made clear by the immediate return 'of a counter-gift, there would be no point to it all, no social gains effected. Yet this concealment, "this institutionally organized and guaranteed misrecognition " (p.171), is not a consciously employed deception. We are not dealing with the scheming social entrepreneurs of formalist economics who are ever calculating how to maximize their advantage in an explicit programme of decisions, but with agents enculturated to certain dispositions, with certain schemes of thinking and acting that are regarded as the only right way to do things, not in the sense of having been chosen as better than other ways, but as the only way, the "natural" way to act.
Taken as an entire system of schemes of perception, appreciation, and action, these dispositions constitute what Bourdieu terms the habitus. It is the habitus that lends order to customary social behaviour by functioning as "the generative basis of structured, objectively unified practices" (Bourdieu 1979:vii).
In short, the habitus, the product of history, produces individual and collective practices, and hence history, in accordance with the schemes engendered by history. The system of dispositions - a past which survives in the present and tends to perpetuate itself into the future by making itself present in practices structured according to its principles, an internal law relaying the continuous exercise of the law of external necessities (irreducible to immediate conjunctural constraints) -is the principle of the continuity and regularity which objectivism discerns in the social world without being able to give them a rational basis (p.82).
Such dispositions engender strategies that do not simply manipulate the established order but preserve it by constituting the field of what is possible within the scope of their manipulations, manipulations guaranteeing the misrecognition of possibilities as necessities.
However, the habitus must be seen not simply as an historically produced structure
that functions to reproduce the social system that generated it, but as a set of
schemes both imposed and imposing. It is in the interest of certain groups that a
particular manner of doing, a specific standardized mode of achieving all the diverse
tasks posed by social life, be considered the only possible way of acting. The official
representation of practice is an imposition of meaning, a continual enactment of
symbolic violence, that coercively, yet unobtrusively, channels how participants
can construe the social world. Social actors can pursue the values dictated by their
economic and political interests by making such pursuit appear to be in accordance
with cultural rules that can be invoked as the validation of practice. What Bourdieu
labels second-order or officializing strategies are simply these ways of making behaviour
appear to be motivated by pure, disinterested respect for the rule by "ostentatiously
honouring the values the group honours" (p.22).
This ability to officialize one's practice by second-order strategies lends a certain paradoxical quality to the nature of misrecognition. In Bourdieu's usage, misrecognition connotes not a simple lack of awareness of the objective reality of a particular cultural practice but a strategic misconstrual of practice as other than what theoretical knowledge makes it out to be. Participants in a gift exchange are just as capable of being struck by the reversibility of the transaction as are analysts (p.6), but so to recognize it would be to destroy the definition of the transaction as disinterested. And to destroy that is to undermine the cultural framework that enables the implementation of strategies to take place under the guise of simply acting virtuously. For the giving of gifts to retain any efficacy, such a "collective bad faith" (p.233) must be maintained as "the basis of gift exchange and, perhaps, of all the symbolic labour intended to transmute, by the sincere fiction of a disinterested exchange, the inevitable, and inevitably interested relations imposed by kinship, neighbourhood, or work, into elective relations of reciprocity" (p.171). Within the ambience guaranteed by misrecognition participants are able to pursue their interests simply by behaving appropriately.
This process is quite evident in Bourdieu's analysis of the sense of honour. His first task is to demonstrate that honourable conduct cannot adequately be explained by deriving it from a set of rules constituting a code of honour.
...the point of honour is a permanent disposition, embedded in the agents' very bodies in the form of mental dispositions, schemes of perception and thought, extremely general in their application, such as those which divide up the world in accordance with the oppositions between the male and the female, east and west, future and past, top and bottom, right and left, etc. and also, at a deeper level, in the form of bodily postures and stances, ways of standing, sitting, looking, speaking, or walking. What is called the sense of honour is nothing other than the cultivated disposition, inscribed in the body schema and in the schemes of thought, which enables each agent to engender all the practices consistent with the logic of challenge and riposte, and only such practices, by means of countless inventions, which the stereotyped unfolding of a ritual would in no way demand (p.15).
The game of honour in its round of challenge and counter-challenge is constituted precisely by the strategies participants adopt in playing it, strategies that depend on a number of presuppositions:
(i) to challenge a person is to accord him a certain dignity, for it connotes a recognition of equality;
(ii) to challenge a person incapable of responding is to dishonour oneself;
(iii) only a challenge coming from an equal deserves to be taken up (pp.ll-12).
It is the nature of the riposte that defines a challenge as a challenge, retrospectively
as it were, for the differences between two parties are seldom clear-cut. Ignoring
a challenge may be an act of cowardice or a denigration of the original caster, but
this is decided only in the interplay of subsequent strategies, as each of the antagonists
plays with the ambiguities and equivocations made possible by the indeterminate quality
of the initial move. Honour is thus not a matter of following certain explicit rules,
but enacting strategies generated by a certain disposition. Although honourable behaviour
emerges from the interplay of constantly shifting strategies constituting the game,
it must be misrecognized as a necessary course of action following automatically
from the logic of honour. It is this misrecognition that analysts have focused upon
in their construal of the sense of honour as a code of honour from
whose rules all the moves could have been predicted as "in the rigorously
stereotyped sequences of a rite" (p.15).
Speaking about the unspoken: schemes and strategies as structured and structuring
Bourdieu puts forward his analysis of the dynamics of exchange, both of gifts and of challenges, as a novel account, one that breaks with the errors and shortcomings of both phenomenological and objectivist explanations. His account does not assume actors calculating according to an obvious measure of advantage and disadvantage. It does not attempt to establish a set of rules or a code from which interaction can be deduced. Or does it? Ultimately, the dispositions in which strategies are embedded are organized according to schemes constructed as oppositions - male and female, east and west, future and past, top and bottom, etc. What is a set of oppositions but a structure? The presuppositions of the sense of honour displayed by Bourdieu seem very much to constitute a code. What Bourdieu thus appears to offer is not so much a different grounding of social analysis, as he claims, but a different account of the enactment of underlying codes or structures, indeed a much more explicit account of how structures are used in the real world to reproduce the very institutions in which they are inscribed. Given this concern, Bourdieu's endeavour seems curiously parallel to that of the Culture and Personality- theorists of the 1930s; the emphasis is not so much on the underlying causes of phenomena but on the intermediate means by which cultural notions are reproduced in each generation in a determinate social context. The habitus as a community of dispositions or a system of schemes of perception and thought is certainly not the same as 'basic personality', but it functions in Bourdieu's theoretical schema as a whole to the same effect. Elucidation of just exactly how the habitus functions, and the way in which Bourdieu invokes the concept of function, requires looking further at his treatment of other aspects of Kabyle culture.
Although the schemes of the habitus enable members of a culture to generate an infinity of practices adapted to endlessly changing situations, they are never cognized by these agents as explicit principles. Rather, they are embodied corporeally in postures and attitudes and interactionally in the style of strategies whose implementation constitutes practice. It is this very implicitness of operation that Bourdieu is careful to highlight. Other theories might also stress homologous series of oppositions - outside and inside, night and day, feast day and ordinary day - but Bourdieu emphasizes that all the provisions of customary laws, the precepts of customs, the sayings and proverbs generated
from these oppositions do not constitute an explicit axiomatics, a self-consistent system of rules. The generation of practice is not a matter of explicit derivation from a code, but a feeling of appropriateness, a sense that the precepts given by schemes preserve the boundaries of that which should be kept separate, even though the exact parameters of those oppositions remain instructively vague. The social world is experienced only in profiles, not as a simultaneously apprehensible universe but as relations presenting themselves successively in the continual emergency situations constituting everyday life. only in the context of elicitation from an informant does one get a description of social practices as if carried out in obedience to rules that can be talked about and perhaps even formalized. In contrast, the everyday native experience of the world finds expression only in silences, ellipses, and lacunae. What most determines experience is not the universe of discourse - that which can be argued about - but the universe of the undiscussed and undisputed, the taken-for-granted, the parameters of manipulability of which social actors are never quite fully aware as they engage in manipulating the social order. The unspoken is what creates an apprehension of the existing social and ideational order as given in the nature of things. This sense of limits is what Bourdieu labels the doxic4 mode of adherence.
Systems of classification which reproduce, in their own specific logic, the objective classes, i.e. the divisions by sex, age, or position in the relations of production make their specific contribution to the reproduction of the power relations of which they are the product, by securing the misrecognition, and hence the recognition, of the arbitrariness on which they are based: in the extreme case, that is to say, when there is a quasi-perfect correspondence between the objective order and the subjective principles of organization (as in ancient societies) the natural and social world appears as self-evident. This experience we shall call doxa, so as to distinguish it from an orthodox or heterodox belief implying awareness and recognition of the possibility of different or antagonistic beliefs. Schemes of thought and perception can produce the objectivity that they do produce only by producing misrecognition of the limits of the cognition that they make possible, thereby founding immediate adherence, in the doxic mode, to the world of tradition experienced as a 'natural world' and taken for granted (p.164).
Embedding connubium: grounding interests and constituting fields
Social practices are thus explained by informants in terms of how they conform to this ineluctable order of things. For example, a Kabyle
informant may characterize a particular marriage as having been contracted with a father's father's brother's son's daughter5 even though the relationship of the bride to the groom could have been traced through a number of other paths. This official account characterizes the marriage as in accord with a prescription, or at least a preference, inscribed in the cultural order of the Kabyle and other Islamic Middle Eastern societies. Such a labelling should not be interpreted as if the marriage were transacted in order to accord with that rule. It is but the most orthodox of the numerous possible ways of classifying a marriage, an ideological use of a lineage model and a specific genealogical representation to convey the image of having contracted a virtuous or regular marriage. For Bourdieu, such an account is an example of a second-order strategy, an account that attempts to give apparent satisfaction to the demands of an official rule.
The rule's last trick is to cause it to be forgotten that agents have an interest in obeying the rule, or more precisely, in being in a regular situation. Brutally
materialist reduction enables one to break with the naiveties of the spontaneous theory of practice; but it is liable to make one forget the advantage that lies in abiding by the rules, which is the principle of the second-order strategies through which the agent seeks to put himself in the right Ö strategies directly oriented towards the primary profit of practice (e.g. the prestige accruing from a marriage) are almost always accompanied by second-order strategies whose purpose is to give apparent satisfaction to the demands of the official rule, and thus to compound the satisfactions of enlightened self-interest with the advantage of ethical impeccability (p.22).
Strategies aimed at producing 'regular' practices are one category, among others, of officializing strategies, the object of which is to transmute 'egoistic', private, particular interests (notions definable only within the relationship between a social unit and the encompassing social unit at a higher level) into disinterested, collective, publicly avowable, legitimate interests (p.40).
To account for why a particular marriage was transacted, one must look beyond the official account to the entire history of previous, present, and envisaged relationships between the transacting groups, the past and pending marriages between them, their relations of debt and clientship, etc. One must see how the groups fit into universes both of official kin, a category given once and for all by the "norms of genealogical protocol" (p.34), and of practical kin, those relatives, clients,
friends upon whom one can constantly call in virtue of having maintained constant
interaction with them through gift exchange and other means. Such an account requires
that attention be paid not only to the interests of individuals, but also to the
collective interests of transacting groups, interests that encapsulate the accommodation
of individual interests brought about by the power relations within the domestic
group and other similarly constituted groups. Instances of patrilateral parallel-cousin
marriage do not merely fulfil a globally-phrased social function discerned by the
analyst.6 Nor can the official ideology
of one's informants be taken as the final explanation. Rather, one must look to the
other economic and political interests, 7
such as the binding of a sublineage with more land to one with more men through such
a marriage, practically motivating such actions. The genealogical relation of units
is never strong enough on its own to provide a complete determination of the relations
between individuals. In fact, ties of genealogy are in Bourdieu's view intrinsically
ambiguous, multivalent and context-bound.
However, an account of the interests motivating such a marriage is not a matter of describing participants' weighing of benefits and deficits in some utilitarian fashion. Rather, it situates interest and entailed strategies within a given symbolic order where, for instance, patrilateral parallel-cousin marriage is the connubial arrangement most consistent with the mythico-ritual representation of the sexual division of labour and of the functions assigned to men and women in intergroup relations. Women are a source of impurity and potential dishonour, but the female who is also a male, that is, the daughter brought up by one's brother, is safer than any other type. Only the woman whose inherent evil has been tamed through the corrective and protective action of a man who can be trusted - and what better formative and correcting influence than a man of one's own lineage acting as a father - need no longer be feared as a maleficent intrusion. On the other hand, the matrilateral parallel cousin, the woman whose relation to the groom is mediated only by other women, can only be viewed as the most feminine of women, that is, the woman most to be feared. In Bourdieu's blatantly structuralist proportional terms, patrilateral parallel cousin: matrilateral parallel cousin:: male-female: female-female (p.44). Not only does this structure encompass the ideology of marriage choices, but it also organizes the mythic space of the house and the agrarian calendar in addition.
Such an underlying structural conception of women and marriageability, however, is not the final resting point of Bourdieu's analysis.
Rather, the mythic opposition is seen to correspond to and arise from the fundamental division of domestic politics .
...the interests of the mother, seeking to reinforce her position in her adoptive home by bringing into the family a woman sprung from her own lineage, are objectively opposed to the interests of the father, who, in arranging his son's marriage, as befits a man, by an agreement with his own kin, his own brother, or some other patrilineal kinsman, reinforces the agnatic unit and, thereby, his own position in the domestic unit (p.45).
Forms of marriage thus reproduce the social relations of which they are the product. They are not simply the execution of rules already given, but the officialized outcome of a play of strategies derived from interests embedded in schemes of perception that embody the social order. Such scheming manipulation of emergent hazardous potentialities constitutes an exploitation of the adventitious whose outcome is legitimised in officialized representations that invoke a marital code of preferences and prescriptions. Bourdieu's account unmasks the supposed homogeneity of marriage practices and by historically situating specific transactions shows how ordinary marriages simply reproduce the social relations that make them possible, while extraordinary marriages extend those relations.
Yet Bourdieu still has not given us an account of participants' "practical mastery" of the marital situation. In order to speak in the first place of situating a marriage, Bourdieu has himself had to place particular marriages in a field constituted by the totality of simultaneously possible marriages. This marital universe he presents as a continuum running from patrilateral parallel-cousin marriage to marriage
between members of different tribes. His account constructs a map of potentialities rather than simply reckoning particular movements. An analysis such as Bourdieu's that speaks of the maximization of functions of internal integration and external alliance loses its grounding in a notion of practice in virtue of its very exposition of the entire field in which it is situated. Further, Bourdieu's supposedly generative account, while sensitive to the nuances of how marriages are actually accomplished and accounted for (as well as the disparity of these two procedures), ultimately subordinates such jockeying to the requirements of a determinate social and economic formation. Explanation proceeds by examining "how the economic and social conditions characteristic of a social formation impose the pursuit of the satisfaction of a determinate type
of interests which itself leads to the production of a determinate type of collective
effect" (p .213). Bourdieu elucidates the mechanics of implementation and mediation
by strategies proceeding from determinate interests. However, the principles generating
such strategies are situated not in the very movement of accomplishment, but seem
rather more reminiscent of traditional accounts that foreground constellations of
power and their associated symbolic oppositions. Bourdieu's account subtly tells
how marriages are accomplished and then officially misrecognized, but his
analysis of why they are so represented in certain canonical forms ultimately rests on the same objectivist notions he is trying to transcend.
Embodying culture: communicating codes and hectic attitudes
Objectivist as Bourdieu may be in his resort to objective relations and oppositions in the last resort, his characterization of social action still diverges in certain respects from other versions. For Bourdieu, the invocation of rules is but a short cut to delineating the relation between habitus as a socially constituted system of cognitive and corporeal postures on the one hand and on the other, the socially structured situation in which the agents' interests, and with them the objective functions and subjective motivations of their practices, are defined. Rules are but secondary principles deriving from officialized accounts that do not consider how the habitus mediates the objective social conditions and the immediate state of the structure (Bourdieu's term) or context of action. The habitus orchestrates practice not only by harmonizing interests, but by ensuring shared adherence to a consensus on the meaning of practices in the world. Yet, even in this characterization Bourdieu slips into labelling the co-ordination effected as depending upon agents having mastered a "common code" (p.81). So to characterize the habitus is to accept the very presuppositions of the semiotic enterprise - culture as a code - that Bourdieu has set out to challenge. In order to render the habitus intelligible, Bourdieu has had to stress its communicative aspect. Schemes thus become a shared code for interpreting practice and the social world in which practices are implemented. He tries to avoid this lapse by borrowing the idiom of transformational-generative grammar for the depiction of linguistic mastery in his labelling the habitus as a sort of cultural competence. But this is precisely the notion of culture propounded by such anthropologists as Goodenough and Frake - culture as the learned way of doing things appropriately - exemplified in 'how
to' ethnography.8 In ethnographic
semantics of this variety, culture is also a matter of procedures and schemes that
are rule-governed and lead to unconsciously executed courses of action. Such schemes
are constructed from underlying components or oppositions that structure meaning.
Again, in the very endeavour to render natives' actions intelligible, Bourdieu appears
doomed to re-enact the analytical sins of his accursed forefathers.
However analogous, in many respects, to such accounts of culture from other theoretical traditions, Bourdieu's notion of habitus does differ in certain particulars. The orchestration effected by habitus is not quite the same as the sharing of a common culture. Rather, each individual system of dispositions is a structural variant of all the other habituses engendering social interaction.9 Similarly, Bourdieu's notion of the embodiment of the habitus differs from the characterization of linguistic or cultural competence as a purely cognitive mastery that emanates from somewhere in the head (that is, mind). Habitus is in part a matter of "hexis", of the body itself serving as a locus of cultural content in abbreviated and practical form. Honour for the Kabyle is not simply a cognitive category. It is embodied in a certain male manner of walking. With a measured gait, neither lagging behind nor carelessly scurrying along, the honourable man confronts his duties head-on, while the inherently shameful woman must stoop beneath the burden of her tasks. In Bourdieu's view, the objectified schemes of a culture are incorporated as a mode of interaction learned with the body, not inculcated as a cognitive code. Enacted practices, such as the differences in gait mentioned here, are structured according to a scheme of spatial disposition. The opposition of the centrifugal male orientation and centripetal female orientation in domestic space imposes a particular "body geography" and a specific relation of each of the sexes to his or her psyche. Yet, however much Bourdieu battles received notions of cognitive learning, the schemes embodied in such diagrams as his Figure 9 (p.157) - with its opposition of male as dominant, hot, south, day, open, empty, to female as submissive, cold, north, night, closed, full - must be said to constitute codes. Although Bourdieu may fail in his attempt to transcend the notion of code, his depiction of the process of encoding, of how schemes come to be seen and acted as given by the individual and how schemes in different symbolic domains are analogous to each other, does differentiate his account from the structuralist paradigm with which he wishes to break.
Constructing time: codifying calendars and analogizing schemes
Bourdieu's distinctive treatment of the implementation and analogization of schemes is most clearly given in his analysis of the Kabyle agrarian calendar. Although for purposes of presentation Bourdieu constructs an abstract calendar of the Kabyle year, he is quick to discount the reality of this representation except as a scholarly account. It is not an underlying cultural code which individual renditions or cognitions approach asymptotically, not some "sort of unwritten score of which all the calendars derived from informants are then regarded as imperfect, impoverished performances" (p.98). The Kabyle experience the year not as distinct, quantifiable "periods" of time, but as a patchwork of moments that are identified by certain characteristic sorts of work, both men's and women's work. Retaining the form of his original linear representation of the agrarian year, Bourdieu proceeds to set out congruent diagrams that map such periods of work onto the abstract calendar, but once again discounts the validity of this very procedure. Like the construction of a map or a genealogy that brings together into a homogeneous space locally and temporally discontinuous sets or domains of practical kinship that have been brought into practical existence only gradually and intermittently, the abstract calendar belies a sense of incommensurable islands of duration, each with its own rhythm - the time that flies by or drags depending on what one is doing (p.105).
In the universe of practice, actual correspondences are not quite so neat. For example, a Kabyle peasant may situate the first day of ennayer (January) both in the middle of winter and in the middle of 1yali, the period of forty days constituting the slack season of agricultural work in the winter, but not set 1yali in the middle of winter. Like other phenomena, time is experienced as a succession of profiles, not as a prearranged set of tidy slots, each with associated, precisely delimited activities. Time is not a given, but is itself a product of the interests that construct it. And these interests are themselves embedded in different universes of discourse, in part incommensurable. The very mode of presentation Bourdieu allows himself is but an artefact of his outsider's view, a synoptic apprehension of the Kabyle year that provides yet another example of what Bourdieu labels the "theorization effect", involving forced synchronization of the successive, the neutralization of distinct context-bound functions, fictitious totalization of profiles and the substitution of the system of products for the principles of production.
The cancelling out of the practical functions of temporal guidemarks that results from the context of interrogation and from scientific recording is the hidden condition of cumulating and seriating the aggregate of the oppositions which can be produced in relation to different universes of discourse, that is, with different functions. By cumulating information which is not and cannot always be mastered by any single informant - at any rate, never on the instant - the analyst wins the privilege of totalization (thanks to the power to perpetuate that writing and all the various techniques for recording give him, and also to the abundant time he has for analysis). He thus secures the means of apprehending the logic of the system which a partial or discrete view would miss; but by the same token, there is every likelihood that he will overlook the change in status to which he is subjecting practice and its products, and consequently that he will insist on trying to answer questions which are not and cannot be questions for practice, instead of asking himself whether the essential characteristic of practice is not precisely the fact that it excludes such questions (p.106).
In actual practice the meanings apprehended monothetically in a single diagram are produced in distinct contexts and used only polythetica11y.10 Periods like lyali are opposed not to some absolutely given preceding and following periods, but are situated in relation to what aspect of the period is under consideration, whether it be, for example, the fig or cereal harvest, and also in regard to the relevant groups or individuals to be addressed and hence mobilized by characterization in terms of a specific label. Units of characterization constantly form and reform as the universes of oppositions in which they are constructed shift. What allows such dynamism is the integral fuzziness of such concepts. The elements of symbolic systems need not be explicitly patterned and distinctive in regard to each other, but need only show enough coherence to be invocable in a manageable way. The different schemes relevant to different logical universes - the cooking cycle, women's work, the dry season day, the intrinsic divisions of the year - need not be, in fact cannot be, exactly congruent, but only approximately so. It is precisely the areas of lack of fit in these homologies that allow the deployment of strategies that constitute practice.
The approximate nature of such analogies is necessitated also by the fact that the homologies between such universes are connections based on overall resemblance. Terms are linked as wholes. Though meanings are brought into connection in a certain respect or with regard to a certain aspect of the referent, the question of the respect in which the referent is apprehended does not present itself to social actors. By thus
obviating the need to define in each case the principle governing the choice of
the aspect selected, there is a fortiori no need to stick to that principle
at all times. By not specifying the aspects in terms of which properties relate,
all oppositions may be reduced to a few basic relations, fluid oppositions of fuzzy
terms. In reading such characterization, one is immediately reminded of the Lévi-Straussian
bricoleur, who from a limited supply of miscellaneous cultural items and implements
is able to construct a multitude of cultural objects whose parts do not stand in
relations of an homogeneous aspect with each other. In fact, one would be hard put
to distinguish Bourdieu's analysis of the story of Heb-Heb-er-Remman (p .114) from
a structuralist account in all its invocation of oppositions, directional inversions,
homologies and structural assignments.11
Again, the content of Bourdieu's analysis - the oppositions he invokes as basic schemes - does not differentiate his approach from other modes of analysis so much as his call to situate such decoding. In his attack on that mode of cultural analysis that he characterizes as seeking eternal answers to eternal questions, Bourdieu calls for a restoration of the practical necessity of ritual and symbolism. This task is to be accomplished by relating these facets to the real conditions of their genesis and functioning, the practical rather than the eternal concerns of interactors. His programme thus calls for the examination of the particular relation between a mode of production and a mode of perception, as well as an analysis of how the significations of an opposition are embedded in the relations between a scheme and a specific situation. Such a programme calls attention to the crucial role played by forms of basic opposition acting as switches concretely establishing relations between universes of practice. But Bourdieu's development of this role of basic oppositions leads him to root his own analyses of various symbolic schemes in the terms given by one invariant master opposition, that of the wet and the dry. This master opposition organizes almost all the conceptual schemes he has treated, bringing together all the fundamental homologies in one synoptic diagram (see his Figure 9, p.157) whose systematic correspondences reflect the very superimposition of various series that he is trying to transcend.
Where Bourdieu differs from a structuralist account is not so much in the range of materials he takes as the baseline, but in stressing the partial and not necessarily consistent invoking (the term invocation would reify what Bourdieu deems an accomplishing) of the terms of the opposition
in specific contexts delimited by particular interests. The small number of antagonistic
symbols - paramount among them the opposition of the sexes - is constant. These symbols
are situated in such loci as the human body, the house, and the structure of time,
and are articulated by a number of practical operators that mediate these
oppositions. Such practical operators are "nothing other than natural processes
culturally constituted in and through ritual practice, such as marriage and ploughing
seen as the union of contraries and murder or harvesting seen as the separation
of contraries" (p.125). In such a situated state, practical actions such
as filling and emptying, crossing thresholds and remaining in enclosures, act as
the fundamental operators of uniting and separating. Even these mediators can ultimately
be reduced to the limited array of fundamental oppositions regarded as basic - drying
and moistening - which are themselves expressions of the processes of masculinizing
and femin-izing. Autumn is thus regarded as a temporal threshold marking the transition
from dry to wet and hence masculine to feminine, just as spring accomplishes a masculinization
in the progression from wet to dry.
Such homologies between the cycle of seasons, the scheduling of labour as differentiated by gender, and other symbolic universes, would certainly be emphasized by any structurally oriented analyst. Bourdieu, however, is concerned to highlight the partial nature of the integration of such domains as these homologies are mobilized to deal with particular situations, whether the situation involves the appropriate time to transact marriage, weave cloth or cook spicy food. Although loosely interconnected, these schemes depend on emphasizing certain oppositions to generate practices or symbols that cannot be produced directly from the oppositions that are foregrounded by other schemes. Because no more than one particular sector of the system of partially autonomous schemes is mobilized at any one time, the products that result from applying these schemes are only partially congruent and roughly equivalent for anyone with "practical mastery" of the system (pp.142-3).
Mastering situations: empowering schemes and scheming power
Given the need to investigate the play of oppositions only partially integrated in specific contexts, Bourdieu also emphasizes the need to analyse the social construction of those contexts. Such contexts are structured by "the system of social relations of production, circulation, and consumption in which these relations are set up and in which the
social functions that they objectively fulfill at any given moment are defined"
(p.231). Crucial to situating such strategies is the apprehension of the power relations
that the schemes of the habitus conspire to reproduce. Power is enacted not just
by the implementation (or threat of implementation) of material violence, but also
by symbolic violence ñ the imposition of the very principles of the construction
of reality. For example, the social representation of different ages of life, whether
malized as age grades or in some looser fashion, not only expresses in its own logic the power relations of individuals in specific age classes, but, by its delineation of the only conceivable ways in which certain perquisites can be attained, reproduces the very structures of power.
The imposition of what constitutes common sense, what is so self evident that it need not be said, is perhaps the most effective means of reproducing power relationships.
Of all the mechanisms tending to produce this effect [of the naturalization of the arbitariness of the established order], the most important and the best concealed is undoubtedly the dialectic of the objective chances and the agents' aspirations, out of which arises the sense of limits, commonly called the sense of reality, i.e. the correspondence between the objective classes and the internalized classes, social structures and mental structures, which is the basis of the most ineradicable adherence to the established order (p.164).
Such a sense of reality, given expression in the schemes producing mythico-ritual homologies, produces a closed ideological world shutting out the possibility of opinion and alternative answers to questions of political import. The dominated in such a system have no means of rejecting the imposed definition of reality. As in the institutionally organized and guaranteed misrecognition by which gift exchange is accomplished, domination is a matter of "good faith". It is not a matter of lineage heads nefariously manipulating their underlings for solely personal gain nor of big men redistributing in order consciously to bind clients to them, but of "men of good faith" who regard themselves merely as acting virtuously by redistributing or acting as guarantors of transactions. Nevertheless, by means of these strategies they reproduce the very system they dominate. Misrecognition (false consciousness it might be called by others) is not simply imposed on the dominated, but is a condition of the action of the dominators. In behaving honourably they are simply behaving in the way they must. Strategies of amassing symbolic capital - the collectively recognized good credit embodied in the idiom of honour that ensures one
has labour when needed and allows transactions in the market without resort to
money - effect unconsciously the collective misrecognition of the objective system
of social relations that engenders such strategies. The man of good faith manifests
his virtue, while the client remains grateful to his patron for all the favours bestowed.
The construction of this symbolic capital is accomplished most saliently by the investment
of time, for the giving or squandering of time is regarded as the most precious of
gifts. As Bourdieu had earlier characterized tempo as the most important aspect of
strategies of gift exchange, so the time spent in performing one's duty, an act of
symbolic calculation in itself, is fundamentally a question of respecting the proper
rhythms, keeping pace as it were. Accumulating the symbolic capital that accrues
from successfully guarding the honour of one's women, maintaining intact the landed
patrimony, and other such virtuous actions, allows the man of honour to maintain
his network of alliances, his relations with kin and clientele, in order to accomplish
the tasks imposed by the determinate social formation in which he is embedded. The
moral or affective obligations created and maintained by such behaviour are a mode
of symbolic violence, a censored, euphemized, unrecognizable violence, which nevertheless
ineluctably binds subordinates to one. Such action has its own logic, but it is not
that of the Western benefit-cost analyst calculating in solely material terms. It
is a logic consistent with an economy of practices, a community of schemes structuring
the circulation of land sold and bought, women given and received, and "throats"
"lent" and "returned" (that is, murders suffered and vengeance
Where systems of domination differ is in the degree to which accumulated social capital is objectified. Such objectification is seen in the extent to which relations of domination must be made, unmade, and remade in personal interactions. In part, the necessity for continually negotiating domination depends on the extent of objective, institutionalized mechanisms to guarantee such domination, as in the case of a system of offices or titles. Where such mechanisms are few, it is precisely the "great men" who must take care most religiously to conform to the values generated by the habitus or at least to convey that appearance by the use of appropriate second-order strategies, as a more machiavellian view would have it. In such social formations the continuity of relations of domination is not ensured by an explicit system, nor is it automatically reproduced by the officialization of structure. Rather, it requires
the expenditure of labour. Acting honourably is a form of work aimed at securing the misrecognition that is its most essential condition. Precisely that is the unintended but calculated effect of the orchestration. of habitus.
Cooking up codes: a critical remembrance of things repast
Bourdieu's programme announced the construction of a new form of knowledge that transcended the limitations of both the phenomenological and theoretical forms of knowledge. This he sought to achieve by constructing the generative principles by means of which practical logic organizes the totality of agents' thoughts, perceptions, and actions as situated in the movement of the accomplishing of social action (p.110). Yet, what these generative principles ultimately amount to turns out not to be so very different from the time-honoured oppositions with which we are familiar in structuralist discourse. What Bourdieu does deliver is a different mode of conceptualizing how these principles are realized in social action. It is not a matter of consciously invoking a code or acting out a script, but of conduct in accord with dispositions organized by schemes that partially and implicitly co-ordinate action as they are played upon in strategies consciously or unconsciously directed toward the satisfaction of interests. These strategies are themselves the misrecognized means of reproducing the determinate social and economic formations that in the last analysis dictate them. All this is accomplished in the ambience of a doxic mode of adherence, the unquestioned acceptance of the practice whose moves are the actualization of these strategies and thus seen as the only way in which one can behave. Hourdieu's offerings do not supersede the objectified account, but provide a mechanism to account for how such structures are reproduced in a way that does justice to the phenomenonologically motivated account of the accomplishing of social action. Execution and performance are replaced by practice.
Such an account, however, still faces many of the problems of the perspectives Bourdieu criticizes. Most salient, perhaps, is the problem of change and thus of history. Bourdieu offers one way of displaying how social formations are reproduced by the operation of practice, but there is no internal dynamic producing new social forms in his account. Though he at times speaks of contradictions, such contradictions do not motivate new solutions moving the society to different forms of organization. Such contradictions as the position of the fraternal relationship,
regarded both as the medium of strengthening the lineage (for example, through
patrilateral parallel-cousin marriage) and as the point of its break-up through competition,
are hedged around by various strategies and provide the opportunity for manipulating
the social order, but they do not engender basic modifications that seek to overcome
them by the operation of an emergent novel principle.
In fact, Bourdieu evinces a penchant for emphasizing the work of strategies in overcoming contradictions in the social order so as to "maintain the community of interests" (p.39). This bias stems from a number of considerations that reveal Bourdieu as well within one tradition of sociological thought he is trying desperately to transcend ñ the Durkheimian heritage. Bourdieu's notion of practical kinship/ emphasizes the manner in which solidarity is maintained by the imposed orchestration
The extent of practical kinship depends on the capacity of the official group members to overcome the tensions engendered by the conflict of interests within the undivided production and consumption group, and to keep up the kind of practical relationship which conforms to the official view held by every group which thinks of itself as a corporate unity (p.40).
Bourdieu writes here as if on the verge of hypostatizing the group as a unit that "thinks of itself", rather than being constituted by interacting members whose implementation of strategies determines the nature of social action and its representation. Although he talks of "conflict of interests", he does not develop this notion into a basis for internally generated change. In this he is prevented by his tendency at times to characterize the collective habitus as homogeneous. The group he defines as "the aggregate of the individuals endowed with the same dispositions" (p.15). As it is the schemes constituting habitus that define interests in the general economy of practices (p.183), all participants are doomed to the compliance of misrecognition. What this fails to take into account is the diversity of dispositions inculcated in a differential manner among individuals. Participants do not just belong to the one group that is interested in maintaining the official representation of practice, but to a diversity of groups whose differential placement in the social order is itself the basis for conflicting interests whose expression in such strategies as the denial of misrecognition may tend to exacerbate the tensions that members of the dominant group are interested in smoothing. By not delineating this diversity and depending on a
vaguely delimited sense of a unitary group, Bourdieu misses the opportunity to
take account not only of social reproduction but also of social metamorphosis. In
his paradigm, change can seemingly only come from awareness of other modes of experience,
as generated in multi-ethnic 1 urban settlements, or from the introduction of literacy
and the ensuing systematization that synchronization and totalization in the form
of lists and tables may bring about. In Bourdieu's paradigm, societies outside such
contact would simply continue to reproduce themselves with their owr determinate
social formations eternally. Doxa imposes a closed system.
However, more crucially, as Bourdieu at times admits, the very attempt to render practical mastery and the nature of the habitus intellig ible entails distorting in the manner of presentation the very nature o its operation. Structures are dismissed as artefacts of the observer's necessarily external relation to the phenomenon portrayed, yet they sneak back into the account as the oppositions of which the schemes immanent in dispositions are constructed. In fact, ultimately generating the whole system is the paradigmatic opposition of the sexes, as splintered into a number of qualitatively less primary oppositions in the multitude of schemes that generate practice. Such schemes are said to be immanent in practice and only partially perceived and implemented by the participants who invoke them, but the only way they can be presented to the reader is as a system, not an unambiguous code to be sure, but still a unitary structure however much it may be instanced in shreds and patches. Bourdieu has not forsaken the structuralist postulate of the relational, systemic nature of social reality; he has merely given us an account of how such relations are essentially embedded in time. Bourdieu does not really resolve the issue of the locus of habitus, for he sometimes situates habitus in the individual agent, yet sometimes refers to it as a product of history that determines both individual and collective practices. Bourdieu thus occults the attempt to pin him down as either a reifying idealist who has replaced the notion of the conscience collective with the collective habitus or as a tough-minded nominalist who assumes nothing further than individuals' dispositions that exist in their total community only when analytically, hence artificially, displayed.12
In keeping with the characteristically Gallic discernment of the alimentary structures sustaining the process of actors living in and ruminating upon the social world, Bourdieu's characterization of Kabyle generative schemes relies heavily on their expression in the differing classes of foods and culinary operations associated with the sexes (see
pp. 143-6). This domain provides not only one of the central metaphors his account,
but also provides a way of characterizing this reviewer's reactions to (or refections
upon, one is tempted to say) the book. In a sense, one comes away from reading Bourdieu
a bit hungry. In the best French tradition he has presented a tantalizing menu of
intellectual dishes combining new and old concepts prepared in new ways, all flavoured
by a heavy sauce of heartily unintelligible prose that at times seems to mask and
hence deny the savour promised by the initial aromatic programme. At times he would
seem to deny access to the very object of all this intellectual gourmandizing, for
our cherished scholarly methods of totalization, synchronization, and general systematization
simply create a synthesized soup that destroys the integrity of the ingredients whose
individual piquancy first attracted us. He presents us with ingenious structures,
but then disavows them, a most unappetizing case of having his cake and eating it
too. Perhaps it is just a case of the reading of this book - and I suspect the writing
of it - smacking all too heartily of that which it attempts to depict. It is all
a practice made possible by the very inherent fuzziness of the scheme it ever so
implicitly enacts. one wonders if Dickens's strategy of embodying a critique in a
novel wouldn't be truer, after all, to the nature of the habitus.
An earlier version of this review was delivered as a seminar in August 1980 for members of the Department of Anthropology, Research School of Pacific Studies, and the Department of Prehistory and Anthropology, Faculty of Arts, The Australian National University, in a series designed by E. Douglas Lewis and Kathy Robinson to treat recent books of theoretical import. Subsequent drafts benefitted from readings by Larry Cromwell, Patrick Guinness, Simon Harrison and Michael Young, to all of whom gratitude is due for making me more aware of what I was trying to do. What intelligibility there is in this attempt to make sense of Bourdieu is largely due to their critical acumen; I alone, however, remain responsible for my recalcitrance in persisting in the remaining errors of construal and expression. This review was written while I was supported by a Fullbright graduate fellowship administered by the Australian-American Educational Foundation.
1This passage opens Chapter 15 of Charles Dickens's Hard times for these times, first published in 1854, here taken from pp.131-2 of the Penguin English Library edition edited by David Craig. Curiously enough, it prefaces a consideration of the calculation of marital strategies:
2Bourdieu appears to promise at the start of this work an account of the embedding of scientific practice in a particular socially privileged position. Although he later hints at this in the work reviewed here, it is
only in another work that he actually does centre on the reproduction academic
stratification through the implicit practices that allow inherited social capital
to reproduce social distinctions by the operation of the educational system (see
Bourdieu and Passeron 1977).
3The concept of misrecognition in Bourdieu's oeuvre is one of the most slippery in a corpus of eminently elusive terms. Richard Nice in his "Translator's note" to Reproduction in education, society and culture (Bourdieu and Passeron 1977), explicitly cites this term as epitomizinc the "translator's quandary". Although in French méconnaissance is a simple enough word, Bourdieu invests it with a specific sense that is not captured by conventional renderings such as misappreciation. Larry Cromwell has suggested misconstrual as a less pretentious and more adequate translation, harking back to the sense in which George Kelly speaks of how we construe the reality of the social world around us in The psychology of personal constructs (1955).
4Such terms as expectation, mere opinion, conjecture, fancy, vision, popular repute or estimate have been used to translate δóξα from the original Greek (Liddell and Scott 1940:444). Bourdieu's use of this term thus captures the notion of the naturalization of the arbitrary, for it not only connotes that which is held to be true by popular opinion but also that which structures expectation due to the repute in which it is held. It is curious to note that Bourdieu's use of the phrase "naturalization of the arbitrary", in explicating the nature of misrecognition and doxa, corresponds to the definition of myth proposed by Roland Barthes (1972). Such a correspondence indicates a closer relation to the style of analysis of this avowed semiotician than Bourdieu would care to admit, given his avowed rejection of the semiotic (that is, structuralist enterprise.
5And, of course, the analyst would immediately label it a patrilateral parallel-cousin marriage, thereby affixing the seal of an established analytical approval to the transaction.
6The functional explanation of patrilateral parallel-cousin marriage offered by Murphy and Kasden in terms of how it "contributes to the extreme fission of agnatic lines in Arab society and, through in-marriage, encysts the patrilineal segments" (1959:27) comes under Bourdieu's criticism for its acceptance of an undifferentiated notion of function as pertaining to the group as a whole and thus failing to situate this type of marriage in the whole universe of possible marriages that perform diverse functions and satisfy diverse interests. Ironically, Bourdieu's own notion of the group as undifferentiated constitutes one of the shortcomings of his own analysis. See conclusions below.
7Bourdieu also speaks of the symbolic interests served by particular transactions, but his example involving the validation of honour seems to imply that symbolic interests - the pursuit of symbolic capital - may ultimately be reducible to economic and political interests. Honour as a form of symbolic capital is what allows a man to walk confidently into a market without any money to pay for the goods he intends to buy or ensures that he will have an extensive labour force of underlings during harvests and other labour-intensive periods.
8For Goodenough's conception of culture see Goodenough 1970. The 'how to' approach to culture is perhaps best exemplified in Frake 1964 and 1975.
9Yet at times Bourdieu does refer
to a "class habitus" (for example, .83). It is unclear if this is anything
other than the conjuncture of he individual habituses of those sharing the same social
and economic )osition.
10In Bourdieu's usage, polythesis or the "confusion of spheres" is a result of applying the same generative schemes to a number of different logical universes in a manner that is approximate without an understanding of the conditions of its own approximation (that is, the respect in which the two universes can be considered partially congruent). Such an application thus allows for fuzzy homologies (p.110).
11In this Kabyle story a girl is forced by the wives of her seven brothers to eat seven snakes' eggs. Her swollen belly, taken as a sign of pregnancy, causes her expulsion from the house. In accordance with a wise man's instructions, she eats a roasted, salted sheep and upon her being suspended by her feet with her mouth open over a pan of. water, the snakes emerge and are killed. Later, she marries, has the child Heb-Heber-Remman (lit. pomegranate seeds) and is reunited with her brothers when she tells her story and displays the seven dead snakes, now dried and salted. Bourdieu's "decoding" of this story involves the analogization of the ingestion of the snakes to fecundation, the inversion of procreation through the ingestion of eggs (that is, a female form rather than the appropriate male form of semen). To counteract this inverted, and hence sterile, fecundation, the eggs, now developed into snakes, must be forced to move in the opposite direction, moving from the inside to the outside, the high to the low. The seven snakes that emerge are dried and salted, as befits their structural assignment as symbols of the male and hence dry, while the birth of Heb-Heber-Remman validates proper female fecundity (p.114).
12In trying to put together how all these basic terms relate to each other in the constitution of a model, I have found the diagram below a help in trying to keep things straight. I do not claim that this diagram accurately captures the nuances of Bourdieu's account, for all too often it appears that Bourdieu's writing is itself a practice that does not aim at a consistent totality but presents instead a series of illuminating analytical profiles. This practice is most evident in Bourdieu's use of
the term 'principle'. At times principles seem equivalent to the basic oppositions underlying schemes of the habitus (pp.8,27,110), while in other passages they seem to relate more to the objective political and, economic conditions - the determinate social formation - in which the habitus is embedded (p.204). Just exactly what constitutes the 'objective' nature of these conditions is also a bit problematic, at least in regard -
to the construal of the objective in practice. It is not objective conditions to which the Kabyle peasant reacts, but to "the practical interpretations which he produces of those conditions, and the principle of which is the socially constituted schemes of his habitus" (p.116) . In any case, this diagram reflects my principled interpretation of the whole framework.
Digitizers addition: Text from the diagram
Disposition, structured by schemes of perceptions, appreciations, and actions embodied corporeally (i.e.hexis) and cognitively
Formation of material and symbolic interests imposed by kinship, neighbourhood, and work and within the misrecognized sense of limits ensured by the dispositions of the habitus
1st order: Ways to go about getting scarce material and symbolic goods
2nd order: Ways to make such pursuit appear to merely virtuous adherence to rules
Implementation of strategies with a specific style and tempo to produce practice ensuring social reproduction
A determinate social and economic formation structured by relations of power
Inculcation of schemes of opposition by apprenticeship through simple familiarization and through explicit and express transmission , producing a sense of limits or sense of reality
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Bourdieu, Pierre and Passeron, Jean-Claude. 1977. Reproduction in education, society and culture (tr. Richard Nice, foreword Tom Bottomore). London and Beverly Hills: SAGE Publications.
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Frake, Charles O. 1964. How to ask for a drink in Subanun. In John J. Gumperz and Dell Hymes (eds), The ethnography of communication. American Anthropologist (Special Publication) 66 (part 2):127-32.
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Murphy, Robert F. and Kasden, Leonard. 1959. The structure of parallel cousin marriage. American Anthropologist 61:17-29.
Schegloff, Emmanuel. 1968. Sequencing in conversational openings. American Anthropologist 70(6):1075- 95. (Reprinted in John J. Gumperz and Dell Hymes (eds), Directions in sociolinguistics: the ethnography of communication, pp.346-80. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.)
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