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Chapter readings 18 part 2

Sociology 2240E Chapter Notes - Chapter readings 18 part 2: Symbolic Capital, Multidimensional System, Nominalism

Course Code
SOC 2240E
Robert Nonomura
readings 18 part 2

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Social space and the genesis of groups
Friday, April 27, 2018
12:27 PM
Bourdieu takes aim at Marxist theory for treating classes as real groups mobilized solely on the
basis of the conditions of economic production
o He counters by presenting the view that classes and groups do not 'exist'; rather, they are
an outcome of symbolic struggles that seek to pronounce a reality that exists only because it
is pronounced by those in an authorized position to declare its existence
The social space
Initially, sociology present itself as a social topology
o The social world can be represented as a space (with several dimensions) constructed on the
basis of principles of differentiation or distribution constituted by the set or properties
active within the social universe in question
The active properties which are selected as principle of construction of the social space are the
different kinds of power or capital which are current in the different fields
o Capital -in the form of material properties -represents a power over the field and, more
precisely, over the accumulated products of past labour and thereby over the mechanisms
tending to ensure the production of a particular category of goods and so over a set of
incomes and profits
The position of a given agent within the social space can thus be defined by the positions he
occupies in the different fields, that is, in the distribution of the powers which are active within
each of them
o These are principally, economic, capital, cultural capital, and social capital, as well as
symbolic capital
The social field can be described as a multi-dimensional space of positions such that every actual
position can be defined in terms of a multi-dimensional system of co-ordinates whose values
correspond to the values of the different pertinent variables
In a more general sense, the space of social positions is retranslated into a space of position-
takings through the mediation of the space of dispositions (or habitus)
Habitus are generative principles of distinct and distinctive practises
o Ex. What the worker eat and how he eats it
But habitus are also classificatory schemes, principles of classification, principles of vision and
division (distinction between what is right and wrong)
Classes on paper
On the basis of knowledge of the space of positions, one can separate out classes, in the logical
sense of the word
Contrary to the nominalist relativism, which cancels out social differences by reducing them to
pure theoretical artefacts, one must therefore assert the existence of n objective space
determining compatibilities and incompatibilities, proximities and distances
Contrary to the realism of the intelligible, one must assert that the classes which can be separated
out in social space do not exist as real groups although they explain the probability of individuals
constituting themselves as practical groups, in families, clubs etc.
What does exist is a space of relationships which is as real as geographical space, in which
movements are paid for in work, efforts, and time
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