Pierre Bourdieu's sociology of culture : critical investigations
The first part of this thesis is concerned with the exegesis of Bourdieu's theory and the second part with critical investigations of his cultural analysis. In the interpretative analysis, I shall show that it is only through an understanding of his work as a whole that it is possible to grasp his now famous work on cultural reception. In our societies, the certified knowledge of professors and the consecrated representations of Tate Gallery artists serve to underpin the world through convincing the dominated of the intellectual poverty of their challenges. Moreover, I shall show that there is a stimulating and rich tension in Bourdieu's sociology, particularly in his explorations of how economic interests are culturally legitimated. Bourdieu is a classic historical materialist, yet one who denies some of the abstractions of sate orthodoxies. This means that - in the interests of truth - his theory forces the squabbling protagonists of different traditions to live together. Bourdieu has an impressive reassessment of the logic of a minortty elite culture in which art is hijacked to fit purposes often remote from the internal meanings of the texts themselves. In the second part of the thesis, it is argued that Bourdieu's sociology of culture has not entirely extricated itself from these same ideological tentacles. Firstly, in the case of Impressionism he overemphasises its character as a rupture in techniques and has not been sufficiently attuned to its dependence on popular subjects and popular sources. Secondly in the case of middlebrow and popular literature, it is suggested that he has failed to describe adequately the nature of the popular cultural field and has also neglected the character of the cultural marginalisation of women. Finally, a study of literary consumption in Scotland challenges Bourdieu's conclusions at some points. By considering these specific substantive areas, I hope to stimulate a Bourdieusian approach.