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Review: A Different Poststructuralism Author(s): Craig Calhoun Review by: Craig Calhoun Source: Contemporary Sociology,

Review: A Different Poststructuralism Author(s): Craig Calhoun Review by: Craig Calhoun Source: Contemporary Sociology, Vol. 25, No. 3 (May, 1996), pp. 302-305 Published by: American Sociological Association Stable URL: Accessed: 20-05-2015 21:09 UTC

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Third, students of culture would also do well to take the notion of "deep play" (a theoreticalidea, ifever therewas one) more seriously.In "Deep Play," Geertz is not only exploring the meanings of the Balinese cockfight.He is also askingwhat makes some culturalperformances,some culturalexperi- ences deeper, more intense, more gripping than others. This is the beginning of an analysis of why some rituals, texts, or symbolsgenerate more meaning than others do. Geertz explores how tension,uncertainty about the outcome, balanced opponents,and the ability to symbolize (and sublimate) significantsocial tensions make some cock- fights deeper, more exciting, and more satisfyingthan others. Barely breaking the surface of Geertz's essays, but there, nonetheless, lurks the question of whether and in what sense cultures are really "systems" after all. He recognizes thatmultiplekindsofrealitiescan abide side by side. He also occasionally addresses great clashes of meanings, when people's cultural assumptions don't mesh, and when culture itself is a source of sometimesviolent conflict.If culturalcoher- ence is itselfvariable,Geertz'swork provides a startingpoint forstudyingthisvariation. Geertz's polemical stands-in favor of interpretationand against explanation, for description over theory, and against all general theory-are red herrings.They have distractedus fromthe depth and originality of his own theorizing. Sociology has not faced a crisis of confidence like that of

anthropology;and sociology has alwayshad a stronger commitment to both theory and explanation. Perhaps, then, sociologists will be able uninhibitedlyto assimilate and find real nourishment in the rich filling of Geertz's interpretation-sandwich.

Otherworks cited:

Alexander,JeffreyC. 1987. TwentyLectures:Sociolog- ical Theory since World War II. New York:

ColumbiaUniversityPress. Asad, Talal. 1983. "AnthropologicalConceptions of

Religion:Reflectionson Geertz."Man

Biersack, Aletta. 1989.


"Local Knowledge, Local

History:Geertz and Beyond."Pp. 72-96 in Lynn Hunt (ed.), The New Cultural History.Berkeley:

UniversityofCaliforniaPress. Geertz, Clifford.1968. Islam Observed:Religious Development in Morocco and Indonesia. New Haven:Yale UniversityPress. . 1983. Local Knowledge:FurtherEssays in InterpretiveAnthropology.New York:Basic Books. Keesing,Roger M. 1974. "Theories of Culture."Pp. 73-97 in Annual Review ofAnthropology3. Palo

Alto:AnnualReviews,Inc. Parker,Richard.1985. "FromSymbolismto Interpre- tation:Reflectionson theWorkofCliffordGeertz." Anthropologyand Humanism Quarterly10(3):62-


Shankman,Paul. 1984. "The Thickand the Thin:On the InterpretiveTheoretical Programof Clifford Geertz."CurrentAnthropology25 (June):261-279. Swidler,Ann and Roland L. Jepperson.1994. "Inter- pretation,Explanation,and Theories of Meaning." Paper presented at the American Sociological Association Annual Meetings, Los Angeles, CA (August). Wikan,Unni.1992. "BeyondtheWords:The Powerof Resonance." American Ethnologist 19 (August):


A DifferentPoststructuralism


UniversityofNorthCarolina, Chapel Hill

Original review, CS 9:2 (March 1980), by ArthurW. FrankIII:

The contributionofBourdieu'sworkis that in producinga bettergroundedstructural- ism,he accomplishesthepracticeofa more


of Bourdieu's writingshould not distract


dinaryimportanceas a theoryofmethod.

The Europeanidiom

Outline of a Theory of Practice, by Pierre

Bourdieu. Trans. by Richard Nice.

Cambridge UniversityPress [1972] 1977. 248 pp. $19.95 paper. ISBN: 0-521-29164-X.

New York:

Pierre Bourdieu (1988) has described one central motivation behind his intellectual workas a determinationto challengemislead- ing dichotomies. This determinationis no-

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wheremoremanifestthanin theworkthat

firstmaidehim famousin English-language Bourdieu'sown initialorientationopposed

sociology,and which remainsperhapshis most influential,Outline of a Theoryof

Practice.'Outlineattacksmanyproblematic Ifforcedto choose,Bourdieuwas clearlyon

dichotomies,but has gained its enduring Levi-Strauss'sside(thoughnotthatofAlthus-

influencemostofallfromitschallengeto the oppositionofstructureand action.



Frenchintellectualscene and that shaped

ser), but in Outline he combinedclassic structuralistanalysesof the Kabylewith a

The idea of transcendingthisdichotomy developingcritiqueofstructuralism'scogni-

was not a new one in sociologicaltheory; tivistneglectofpracticalknowledge,itsmore

recalltheeffortsignaledbyTalcottParsons's firstbook,TheStructureofSocialAction.But Bourdieu's effortwas both original and

compelling.It caught,moreover,the rising scientificstandpoint.Forall ofhis influence

demandforan integrationof structureand action that followedthe successive crises firstofParsons'sownfunctionalismandthen

ofa Marxismthathad splitintostructuralist moredifficultformanyreadersto assimilate

andvoluntaristcamps. Outlinedidnotachievetheinstantfameof Bourdieu'sDistinction,whichburston the Anglophonescene in a 1984 translationand helped to spark the renaissanceof the

sociologyof culture,as well as a thriving period(The Orderof Things,andArchaeol- subfieldof culturalstudiesof stratification. ogyofKnowledge),Outlineofferedbothone Rather,partlybecause it is a moredifficult ofstructuralism'shighpointsand important

book, Outlineattractedreadersgradually- but also foundits way into the standard

syllabiforgraduatecoursesin contemporary and thereforecommonlyopposed to ac- sociologicaltheory.It also had a substantial countsofprocess.3In theManicheanopposi-

indirectinfluence,evenbeforetranslation,as forexampleBourdieu'sworkhelped shape

AnthonyGiddens's intellectualframework experiencewereceded to thelatter(and the

and laterreaderspickedup Bourdieu'sideas andterms- likestructuration-fromGiddens withoutalwaysknowingtheirsource. Out- line spoketo a desirefortheorythatmade

sense of the stabilityof social organization of structure.From early in his work in

withoutsuccumbingto the conservatismof muchfunctionalism,and thatmade sense of

human agency withoutrelyingon highly ways of lifewere enactedand more linear

cognitiveaccounts of intentions.It also helped that,despitea good translation,the textwas sufficientlyoblique in stylethatit

could be read-at least superficially-with which individualssoughtto achieve their

approval by English-languagetheoristsof starklycontrastingorientations.

Sincethebookwas originallywrittensome years earlier in French,this context of

receptionwas not exactlyits

production.The dichotomythat rent the

processes of historicalchange. Above all, Bourdieu soughtto show how structures werereproducedthroughtheveryactionsby

generalobjectivism,and itsinabilityto turn thatobjectivistgaze on itselfin order to provide an adequate account of its own

in anthropology,and his general fame, Levi-Strausshad not been widely read in Americansociology.ThismadeOutlineboth

and morevaluableas a criticalintroduction to someoftheachievementsofstructuralism (thatis, ofculturalstructuralism,as distinct fromvarious aculturalaccounts of social structure).LikeFoucault'sworkofthesame



tionof structuralismto existentialism,indi- viduals, action, and especially personal

latter thereby declared unscientific).As Althusserfamouslyputit,individualpersons were not of analyticsignificancein them- selves,butratherwere simplythe"bearers"

Algeria,Bourdieufounditcriticalto analyze both recurrentprocesses throughwhich

personalends. Outlinewas his firstmajor

2 Though published in 1972, Outline was largely writtenbefore1968 and is not theworkin which to findBourdieu'sresponseto theeventsofthatyearor thelate '60s intellectualconflictsmoregenerally.For that,see Homo Academicus.

3 Foucault's structuralisthistoriesthus stressrup- tures between statisticallyconceived epochs more thanprocesses,whetherofchangeor flux.

context of

1 Bourdieuin essence rewroteOutline in his later, but less widely read, Logic of Practice (Stanford:


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theoreticalstatementof thisapproach,and

thiswas a crucialbasisofitsearlyinfluence. requiresnotjustknowledgeofrulesbutalso

a practicalsense forthe game. Bourdieu's accountis one of the mostfruitfulto have been offeredof this dimensionof "tacit knowledge,"all the moreso because ofhis relationof thisto bodilyhexis (pickingup the Aristotelianconcept).Bourdieushowed cultureas embodied,not just thought,and thisalonewouldhaveensureda considerable influenceforOutline. But the pointwas even morebasic (and

side of the coin was less fullyappreciated. more sociological). Bourdieu emphasized


denton action,and in so doingprovidedan

openingforstudyinghow changingmaterial tivity.It was the result of a ubiquitous

conditions(e.g., the monetarizationof the Kabyle economy) could change the way culturalprocessesplayedoutin therealmof individualaction. In orderto addressaction,Bourdieudrew

on a largelyAnglo-Saxonlanguageofstrategy this inculcationof orientationsto action,

and recoveredwith new meaningthe old

term "habitus."The language of strategy matternotonlyofsocialization,conceivedin

the neutralmannerof muchsociology,but also of power. Inculcationtook place in familiesdifferentiallyendowedwithcultural capital,forexample,and thusblessedsome

theysaw as excessiveeconomismandinstru- childrenwithadvantagesin performingvari-

mentalismas itattractedotherswho saw the possibilityof developinga culturallyricher

approachtostrategicaction.Whetherfiltered tantlyforBourdieu.Bourdieushowed that

ous socialroles.Itwasforthisreasontoothat strugglesoverclassificationfiguredso impor-

system,Outlinewas at firstreadlargelyas a

ershad previouslybeen exposedto Bourdi- eu's earlywritingson theFrencheducational

eu's metaphor,effectiveplay of a game


eu's accountsofhowindividualactionswere recuperatedintothe reproductionof struc- ture(recallingMerton'sclassicevocationof the unintendedconsequencesof purposive socialaction)was readilygrasped.The other

thathabituswas not just a capacityof the individual,butan achievementofthecollec-

"collectiveenterpriseof inculcation."The reasonwhy"strategies"could workwithout individualsbeingconsciouslystrategicis that individualsbecamewhotheywereandsocial institutionsexistedonlyon the strengthof

evaluation,and understanding.This was a

suggestedto many Americanreaders an affinityto rationalchoice theory(which Bourdieuhas strenuouslydenied). This re- pelledatleastas manywho objectedtowhat

throughrational-choicethinkingor not,part oftheimpactofOutlinehasbeento show,in the traditionof MarcelMauss,how appar- entlynonstrategicor disinterestedactionsin fact can be understoodas resultingfrom actors'interests,evenwhenthoseactorsare

not consciouslyaware of this motivation. onlyas changesinformalstructuresbutalso

Bourdieu soughtto demonstratehow the "strategy"inherednot simplyin conscious intentions(a fallacyat once cognitivistand subjectivist)but in the situationand in the wholebeingoftheactoras well.

theclassificatoryschemesbasicto structural- ist analysiswere not simplyobjective,as a staticaccountwouldimply,butwerealsothe productsofinterestedstruggleamongsocial actors (albeit seldom explicit). The most fundamentalsocialchangeshadtoappearnot

as changesin habitualorientationsto action. Bourdieu sought thus to overcome the separationofculture,socialorganization,and embodiedindividualbeingthatwas charac- teristicofmostexistingsociology.In this,his

This is where habituscomes in. Notori- mostimportantAmericanforebearwas Erv-

ouslydifficultto pin down,thetermmeans basicallytheembodiedsensibilitythatmakes


cianscan playtogetherwithoutconsciously in theearlyreceptionofOutline.

followingrulesbecausetheyhavedeveloped physicallyembodiedcapacitiesto hear and respond appropriatelyto what is being

producedbyothers,andtocreatethemselves social action.If othersof Bourdieu'sworks

in ways thatotherscan hear sensiblyand to whichotherscan respond.Or in Bourdi-

ingGoffman,withwhomhe spenttimeearly in his career,and it is surprisingthatthis connectiondidnotachievemorerecognition

Outlinehas been mostinfluentialamong those who seek to analyze the interplay between culturaland social structureand

have helped to create the sociology of cultureas a subfield,Outlinehas playeda

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majorrole in bringingculturalanalysisback into the centerof sociologicalanalysisin general.In encouragingthe attemptto see both actors (and thereforeactions) and institutionsas shapedbyculturalschemas(to borrowSewell'srecentterm),it also opens up the possibilityof analysisof the way in

whichthoseschemasare shapedin struggle. Algerianworkers,and Frenchhighereduca-

This is the largertaskto whichBourdieu's accountof"symbolicviolence"speaks;ithas alreadybeen putto use in a varietyofmore specificanalyticcontexts.Outlinealso fore- shadowed Bourdieu'sdevelopmentof the conceptofculturalcapital,and moregener- ally the theoryof how differentformsof

accumulatedresourcesmay have different describedas Bourdieu'ssociologicalhabitus,

effects,andmaybe converted.In one related sense, however,Outline may have misled readers.Bourdieu'ssociologyis aimedlargely at an account of power relations,and especiallyofthemanywaysinwhichpower is culturallyproduced, reproduced,and manipulated.Partlybecause of the heavy emphasison strategizinglanguage,thisis not as manifestin Outlineas in someoftherest ofBourdieu'swork. The influenceof Outline remainslarge, partlybecause it appears (along with the

overlappingLogic of Practice) as the most importantof the relativelyfewgeneraland syntheticstatementsBourdieuhas offeredof his"theory"(a labelhe doesn'tlike).Therest of his publicationsrange across a wide varietyofempiricalobjectsofanalysis,from museumsand literatureto kinship,class,

tion.Outlineis not a cure forthe common fragmentedreadingofBourdieu,but it does go some way towards showing what is centralto hisperspectiveandsituatingmany of his key conceptsin relationto broader theory.In a senseitexplicatesandprovidesa rationalefor what Brubaker(1992) has

his characteristicmode of improvisingin empiricalanalysis.


Bourdieu,Pierre.1988. "Vivela crise!ForHeterodoxy in Social Science," Theoryand Society,17(5), pp.


Brubaker,Rogers. 1992. "Social Theoryas Habitus," pp. 212-234 in C. Calhoun, E. LiPuma,and M. Postone, eds.: Bourdieu: Critical Perspectives. Chicago,IL: UniversityofChicagoPress.

The Gendering of Social Theory: Sociology and Its Discontents

Original review, CS 8:4 (January1979), by Rose Laub Coser:

This book will have consequences in sociological as well as in psychoanalytic theorizing at the same time as it may provide some ofthe underpinningsfora theoryof feminism.

Nancy Chodorow and I have known each otherformore than15 yearsas colleagues and as friends.Partofthatfriendshiphas developed out ofour mutualintellectualinterestsin gen- der and familyrelationsand in social theory.In our many conversations that have engaged those interests,therehas been mutualcritique




sis and theSociologyof Gender,byNancyJ.

Chodorow. Berkeley:Universityof California Press, 1978. 253 pp. $15.00 paper. ISBN:


as well as appreciation.This essaycontinuesin the spiritof those conversations. The Reproduction of Mothering: Psycho- analysis and theSociology of Gender (here- after,Mothering), published in 1978 by the Universityof CaliforniaPress, was a major intellectual event in the emerging field of feministscholarship and in social theory.Its

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