Discuss the relationship between culture and power in Bourdieus work

Essay by cozy_University, Bachelor'sA+, May 2005

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Discuss the relationship between culture and power in Bourdieus work

Pierre Bourdieu is regarded as being one of the most important thinkers in modern European history. His work is hugely respected not only in the field of Sociology; he is also a well respected Anthropologist and Philosopher. Bourdieu was born in France in 1930, the son of a Postmaster. He came from quite a poor backdrop, and was very conscious of his class background, which may explain why class and social status was one of the key areas of his work. He deals with many different areas in his work, applying various theories such as Habitus, Field and Capital to the different areas he studies. One of the main aims in his work was to show structures of domination and how they worked 'struggles for recognition are a fundamental dimension of social life' (Bourdieu, 1990:22). His analyses of culture and power and the relationship between the two of them is a fascinating and multidimensional area of his work, and will be the main focus of this essay.

First of all I think it is important to briefly clarify some of Bourdieus phrases, which he uses constantly as tools for analysing the social world. Firstly, Habitus is described as 'an acquired system of generative schemes objectively adjusted to the particular conditions in which it is constituted' (Jenkins, 1992:74) or put more simply is 'the mental structures through which they (Agents) apprehend the social world' (Bourdieu, 1990: 130/31). Secondly, a field 'is a social arena within which struggles or manoeuvres take place over specific resources or stakes and access to them.' (Jenkins, 1992:84). Lastly comes Capital, of which he believed there were 4 types: Economic Capital, Cultural Capital, Social Capital and Symbolic Capital. The two most basic of these forms are Economic...

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