Gender and the Law Prof Blog

Editor: Tracy A. Thomas
University of Akron School of Law

Friday, September 27, 2013

Wading through Bourdieu

Influential French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu (1930-2002)

(Pierre Bourdieu)

The book was published in 1998 (in French), and so it's not recent.  (the really best stuff, for me, always seems to be between 1700 to 1850, and then from 1930 to the 1960s).  But I had to read it.  I mean, it's Pierre Bourdieu, the revered French sociologist.

He's brilliant.  He's famous.  He's the master.  But in Masculine Domination, he sometimes writes like this:

"The work of symbolic construction is far more than a strictly performative operation of naming which orients and structures representations, starting with representations of the body (which is itself not negligible); it is brought about and culminates in a profound and durable transformation of bodies (and minds), that is to say, in and through a process of practical construction imposing a differential definition of the legitimate uses of the body, in particular sexual ones, which tends to exclude from the universe of the feasible and thinkable everything that marks membership of the other gender...." (p. 23).

Oh, the days when Bourdieu's compatriot Alexis de Tocqueville had written with enviable grace and concision of gender relations in early nineteenth century America.....

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But what would be left of the modern humanities if not for all those very useful layers of abstraction and their scientific-sounding names?

Posted by: Think Like a 1L | Sep 30, 2013 2:16:48 PM

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