Monthly Archives: September 2014

oppression within movements

“Neither is oppression limited to only mainstream or hegemonic socio-political and economic relations and institutions. In fact, oppression can and often does inhabit those formations — such as social movements — avowedly or allegedly fashioned to confront and abolish it.” (Haiven and Khasnabish, The Radical Imagination, Loc 1920 of 4059)

“A concrete, critical engagement with oppression was (perhaps unintentionally but no less problematically) denied in favour of a highly abstracted and intellectualized discussion of politics that became dominated by many of the young white male activists in attendance.” (Loc 1959 of 4059)

“movements that fail to engage oppression critically and systematically (and its connections to exploitation and economic power) not only fail to challenge the dominant order effectively, they reproduce it.” (Loc 3098 of 4059)

‘the stylization of life’

“The fact remains that social agents, being capable of perceiving as significant distinctions the ‘spontaneous’ differences that their categories of perception lead them to consider as pertinent, are also capable of intentionally underscoring these spontaneous differences in life-style by what Weber calls ‘the stylization of life’ (Stilisierung des Lebens).” (Bourdieu, Language and Symbolic Power, pp. 237-238)

When are academic disciplines valuable?

“the fetishization of ‘public’ research is, more often than not, a means by which academic inquiry is domesticated and defanged in the name of pleasing a spectral mass of people ‘out there’ who represent ‘mainstream’ interests, concerns, values and ideals. With increasing frequency, the requirement to ‘make work public’ is demanded by funders and administrators keen to instrumentalize or commercialize research. Speaking to constituencies beyond the ivory tower is clearly important. But we would all do well to remember that academic disciplines of any stripe are only valuable so long as they offer critical insights into our world, particularly insights that offer something tangible in terms of addressing the most pressing problems of our time.” (Haiven and Khasnabish, The Radical Imagination, Loc 900 of 4059)

avoiding the nominalism-realism alternative

“Thus, contrary to the nominalist relativism which cancels out social differences by reducing them to pure theoretical artefacts, we have to affirm the existence of an objective space determining compatibilities and incompatibilities, proximities and distances. Contrary to the realism of the intelligible (or the reification of concepts), we have to affirm that the classes which can be carved out of the social space (for instance, for the purposes of statistical analysis, which is the sole means of demonstrating the structure of the social space) do not exist as real groups, although they explain the probability of individuals constituting themselves as practical groups, families (homogamy), clubs, associations and even trade-union or political ‘movements’. What exists is a space of relations which is just as real as a geographical space, in which movements have to be paid for by labour, by effort and especially by time (to move upwards is to raise oneself, to climb and to bear the traces or the stigmata of that effort).” (Bourdieu, Language and Symbolic Power, p. 232)

avoiding the objectivist-subjectivist alternative

“To grasp at one and the same time what is instituted (without forgetting that it is only a question of the outcome, at a given point in time, of the struggle to bring something into existence or to force out of existence something that already exists) and representations, performative statements which seek to bring about what they state, to restore at one and the same time the objective structures and the subjective relation to those structures, starting with the claim to transform them: this is to give oneself the means of explaining ‘reality’ more completely, and thus of understanding and forseeing more exactly the potentialities it contains or, more precisely, the chances it objectively offers to different subjective demands.” (Bourdieu, Language and Symbolic Power, pp. 224-225)


“There is a political space, there is a religious space, etc.: I call each of these a field, that is, an autonomous universe, a kind of arena in which people play a game which has certain rules, rules which are different from those of the game that is played in the adjacent space. The people who are involved in the game have, as such, specific interests, interests which are not defined by their mandators. The political space has a left and a right, it has its dominant and its dominated agents; the social space also has its dominant and its dominated, the rich and the poor; and these two spaces correspond.” (Bourdieu, Language and Symbolic Power, p. 215)

university in post-industrial cities

“In many post-industrial cities, the university sector is the largest single employer; integration into the pharmaceuticals, security, weapons, finance and medical sectors has been expansion of the university’s scope and influence. Numerically speaking, more people may today pass through the doors of a university (as students, as workers, as contractees, etc.) than ever passed through the gates of a factory in years gone by.” (Haiven and Khasnabish, The Radical Imagination, Loc 538 of 4059)

oracle effect

“The move from the indicative to the imperative — Durkheim’s followers had sensed this very clearly when they tried to ground a morality on the science of mores — presupposes a move from the individual to the collective, the principle of all recognized or recognizable contraint. The oracle effect, a limiting form of performativity, is what enables the authorized spokesperson to take his authority from the group which authorizes him in order to exercise recognized constraint, symbolic violence, on each of the isolated members of the group.” (Bourdieu, Language and Symbolic Power, p. 212)


“The more people are dispossessed, especially culturally, the more constrained and inclined they are to rely on delegates in order to acquire a political voice. In fact, isolated, silent, voiceless individuals, without either the capacity or the power of making themselves heard and understood, are faced with the alternative of keeping quiet or of being spoken for by someone else.” (Bourdieu, Language and Symbolic Power, p. 206)


“The extreme caution which defines the accomplished politician, and which can be measured in particular by the high degree of euphemization of his discourse, can doubtless be explained by the extreme vulnerability of political capital, which means that the politician’s trade is a high-risk profession, especially in periods of crisis when, as can be seen in the case of de Gaulle and Pétain, small differences in the dispositions and values involved may be the source of totally incompatible choices.” (Bourdieu, Language and Symbolic Power, p. 281)