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October 2021

Bourdieu and the logic of practice: Is all giving Indian-giving or is ''generalized materialism'' not enough?

Journal/Book: Sociolog Theor. 1999; 17: 350 Main Street, Ste 6, Malden, MA 02148, USA. Blackwell Publishers. 3-31.

Abstract: I argue here that in the end Bourdieu's theory of practice Sails to overcome the problem on which it expressly centers, namely, subject-object dualism. The failure is registered in his avowed materialism, which, though significantly ''generalized,'' remains what it says: a materialism In order to substantiate my criticism, I examine for their ontological presuppositions three areas of his theoretical framework pertaining to the questions of(I) human agency las seen through the conceptual glass of the habitus), (2) otherness, and (3) the gift. By scrutinizing Bourdieu's powerful and progressive social theory, with an eye to finding fault, I hope to show the need to take a certain theoretical action, one that is patently out of keeping with the usual self-presentation and self understanding of social science. The action I have in mind is this: because the problem of subject-object dualism is in the first place a matter of ontology, in order successfully to address it there must take place a direct shift of ontological starting point, from the received starting point in Western thought to one that projects reality in terms of ambiguity that is basic. With this shift the dualism of subject and object dissolves by definition, leaving a social reality that, for reasons of its basic ambiguity, is best approached as a question of ethics before power.

Note: Article Evens TMS, Univ N Carolina, Dept Anthropol, Chapel Hill,NC 27599 USA


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