Martial Art

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2 Responses to “Martial Art”


  1. 1 Eoin August 6, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Thanks for posting these, the first one made me smile. That’s a sweet moment when he asks his assistant to go home and leave the office.

    On a broader point though, PB describing sociology as a martial art is about as far from the truth as it is currently practised. If it is a martial art, then there’d be defenders of dignity, justice and fairness all over the shop. Instead we just get a load of middle class people misusing the words ‘space’ and ‘Otherness’.

    Having said that his description of how inequality gets structured and his description of docility are exemplars of how to teach something simply in any context. Is this a longer film about his book tour and his life or did you just come across these randomly?

  2. 2 Hugh Green August 6, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Both excerpts are taken from a French documentary called La Sociologie est un sport de combat. The rest of it is available online too.

    I know nothing about sociology, but I guess there’s a difference between how sociology is practised and the practice of sociology. There’s another excerpt in which Bourdieu is asked to what extent his own background bore on the work he conducted, and he chose not to answer with reference to himself, but instead with reference to Foucault, and how Foucault’s research had arisen in part on account of his own personal circumstances and events that had affected him (the stigma attached to homosexuality in France, even among intellectuals, his suicide attempt), in that this had sharpened his focus, his preoccupations with seeing the world in a certain way, that would not otherwise have come to light. The point being that the course of enquiry adopted does arise on account of one’s own background and milieu, and therefore it might not be all that surprising that how sociology is practised tends towards providing a service. That service has to be useful to whoever is paying for it, and so on and so forth.

    The documentary is really good. I only started reading Bourdieu (and Foucault) in the last year or so and find him really enlightening. My only complaint is that his books are so damned expensive.


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