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Thompson Studies In The Theory Of Ideology Notes

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Chapter Two - Symbolic Violence: Language and power in the writings of Pierre Bourdieu Reproduction of legitimate language
● Bourdieu attacks the separation of language from the social conditions of its production
○ to practice this separation is 'tacitly to accept the official definition of the official language of a political unit'
■ so linguistic practices represent power structures
○ we must reconstruct the historical process by which a unified and asymmetrically structures linguistic market was formed
● In France, this process began with the promotion of the Ile de France dialect to the status of official language
○ this gave the bourgeoisie de facto monopoly over the political apparatus and central power
○ this was pushed forwards by the educational system, which came to be seen as the principal means of access to the labour market
○ this leads to symbolic domination, where those dominated apply the dominant criteria of evaluation to their own practices
■ i.e. judge their shortcomings in terms of their position in the language market etc. Power and the performative utterance
● Speakers do not just acquire linguistic competence, whereby they can use grammar correctly
○ the also acquire practical competence, whereby they can produce the appropriate sentence
○ philosophers (e.g. Chomsky) who hold the former doctrine neglect the social conditions for the establishment of communication
■ in some situations certain individuals or groups of individuals, are effectively excluded from communication - there are relations of force here
● Utterances such as 'I do' and 'I name this ship the Queen Elizabeth' Bourdieu calls performative utterances
○ the efficacy of performative utterances cannot be separated from the institution which defines the conditions to be fulfilled for the utterance to be effective
■ there must be authority, or symbolic capital, behind the statement
● Authority comes from outside language, so we must examine the structures and properties of the linguistic markets within which expressions are exchanged Linguistic Markets
● Linguistic markets (in which expressions are exchanged) have certain structures
○ these markets are the site of struggles between entrants, who seek to alter its structure in their favour, and established agents/groups, who seek to preserve the order
○ hence the structure of the market is a certain state of the relation of force between the agents/groups engaged in struggle
● There are different markets to represent different kinds of capital - symbolic, economic, cultural etc
○ capital acquired in one market can be converted into capital in another market
■ e.g. educational qualifications can lead to lucrative jobs
● Despite the antagonism, those engaged in struggles share an interest in preserving the market (why?)
○ hence they help to reproduce the game

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