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Bourdieu The Logic Of Practice Notes

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Pierre Bourdieu - The Logic of Practice Introduction
● The opposition between subjectivism and objectivism is artificial, and divides the social sciences
○ we must identify the presuppositions they share as theoretical modes of knowledge
■ theoretical as opposed to the practical mode of knowledge of ordinary experience
■ hence we must objectify the epistemological and social conditions of both subjective and objective experience
○ phenomenological knowledge can teach us with perfect certainty the truth of the primary relationship of familiarity with the familiar environment
■ but it cannot go beyond description - it takes the world as self-evident, without asking why experience is as it is (doesn't ask what the conditions of possibility of such experience are)
● phenomenology doesn't take into account the coincidence of objective structures and internalized structures that give the illusion of immediate understanding
○ objectivism sets out to establish objective regularities - structures, laws, systems of relationships - introduces a radical discontinuity between practical and theoretical knowledge
■ explicit representations of practical knowledge are seen as ideologies
■ it challenges the project of reducing social science to constructs of the constructs made by actors (as phenomenologists do)
● or accounts of the accounts of agents, which are seen to produce the meaning of the social world
■ Saussurian semiology claims that immediate understanding presupposes that agents are 'objectively attuned so as to associate the same meaning with the same sign' (i.e. share precisely the same language)
■ BUT objectivism forgets that primary experience is the condition and product of its objectification
● hence it fails to objectify its own objectifying relationship
○ it doesn't explore the conditions that allow it to 'take for granted the meaning objectified in institutions'
● So to move beyond this antagonism we must explore the conditions of all theoretical knowledge
○ we must not only break with native experience, but also break with the position of the objective observer, who brings into the object the principles of his relation to the object
■ knowledge is not only relative to viewpoint - the very taking up of a viewpoint on a practice constitutes it as an object
● Philosophy has tended to reject practice as uncomtemplative, and reify contemplation as providing true, objective knowledge, without questioning its presuppositions
○ a big factor in this has been the tendency of scientists to see the knowledge of their science as superior to all else, rather than exploring its limits
● The subjective relation of theorist to the social world, and the objective relation presupposed by this, is the unanalysed element of every theoretical analysis
○ where the relation of the observer to the social world is made the basis of the practice analysed, scientific error occurs

Chapter One: Objectification Objectified
● We need to understand the epistemological/sociological presuppositions of objectivism
○ Saussure claims that the true medium of communication is not speech - rather it is language, a system of objective relations
■ this subordinates the material of communication to the pure construct of theory
■ he recognises that speech has chronological priority, but claims that language has priority in the logical conditions of decoding i.e. is the condition of the intelligibility of speech
● hence to make speech the product of the language, one has to situate oneself in the logical order of intelligibility
● We could critique this as being synchronic, and ignoring the origin/history of language
○ instead let's concentrate on the viewpoint itself and its relation to the object of observation
● To locate oneself in the order of intelligibility, one must take the position of an impartial spectator, who seeks understanding for its own sake
○ you must take language as an object of study, not as a tool
○ without a theory of the difference between his position and that of the language user, the grammarian treats language as an autonomous object - purposefulness without purpose
■ hence he adopts a scholastic, formal relation to all language, popular or formal
■ the problem of the scholastic approach is that language is seen as a dead intellectual instrument, stripped of its functions and appropriate usage
● The problems in structuralism derive from this: its division between language and its realization in speech (its practice, and history), and its understanding the relation between the two as that between model and execution (essence and existence)
○ this means the reduction of all individual practice to the actualization of 'a kind of ahistorical essence, in short, nothing'
● Anthropology exhibits these problems in a magnified form
○ there is a tendency towards intellectualism in seeing language from the standpoint of listener rather than speaker - to decode rather than to act/express
■ hence we can understand the observer as representing both an epistemological and a social break with practical, everyday action/knowledge/meaning
■ participation shows the influence of the subject in the object, because he plays the game (object) before reporting it
● the inadequacy of scholarly discourse derives from its inability to see how its theory of the object derives from its theoretical relation to the object
● intellectualism simply substitutes one observer's relation to practice for the practical relation to practice
● In the case of kinship, the anthropologist, who is only interested in cognitive uses, sees kinship as a coherent system of logically necessary relations, and considers symbolic effects that create belief and so on
○ this focus on cognitive uses brackets all other uses that may be made in practice of kinship relations
○ in showing the whole system of logical relations, the structural anthropologist conceals the fact that those relationships that function do so because they fulfil practical functions
- the economy and so on
■ an objectification of the objective relation would show us the gap between the

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