The second weekend in June I attended the Vernacular Architecture Forum Conference in Madison, WI. It was, owing to the topic, a considerably analog affair. At the risk of being obvious, vernacular architecture is exactly like vernacular language; only here the text is the built environment. It subsumes everything from housing to bridges to farm buildings to gas stations, and so on, and scholars are particularly interested in it for its reification of cultural landscapes. And while we read Berger (1977) and Burnett (2004) in terms of the digital humanities, I was struck by how much this Forum’s particular object of scrutiny underscores both Berger and Burnett’s writings. [Sidebar: I study cultural landscapes, as well, but my primary reason for being there was to take a very nerdy vacation. It was time very well spent.]
Tag Archives: bourdieu
Belated Reports from the Field: Berger and Burnett Inform my Trip to the 2012 Vernacular Architecture Forum Conference
In this essay, Bourdieu delves into the foundational theoretical principles for his concept of distinction. He begins by explaining his own position is best described as “structuralist positivism,” a nuanced stance existing somewhere between structuralism’s positivist, objective framework and constructivism’s “twofold social genesis” (p. 14) of habitus (“both a system of schemes of production and practices and a system of perception and appreciation of practices” [p. 19]) and social classes.
Bourdieu, P. (1986). The forms of capital. In J. Richardson, ed. _Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education_. New York: Greenwood.
In this essay, Bourdieu lists the three “guises” of capital and elucidates how they collect, operate, and exchange in the process that determines an agent’s position in the social structure. The first, economic, is readily converted into money and sometimes institutionalized in the form of property rights. The second, cultural capital, can occur in three forms: the embodied state (i.e. “long-lasting dispositions of the mind and body” [p. 47]); the objectified state (e.g. books, instruments, tools indicative of education and training); and the institutionalized form (i.e. educational qualifications which confer “entirely original properties on the cultural capital which it is presumed to guarantee” [p. 47]).
Pierre Bourdieu was a French sociologist, anthropologist, and philosopher. Coming from the Genetic structuralism and critical sociology schools, his main interests were power, symbolic violence, historical structures, and subjective agents. His noteworthy ideas comprise: cultural capital, the field, habitus, social capital, reflexivity, symbolic violence, and symbolic capital.
To Bourdieu, challenging Marxism is vitally important for contemporary thinking because “we are so impregnated” (p. 195) with it that we overlook its structurally embedded (and in the end, paradoxical) flaws. His hypothesis is simple. “Constructing a theory of the social space presupposes a series of breaks with Marxist theory” (p. 195). To elucidate, he uses three main points.