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Bourdieu and Literature

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John R. W. Speller

2. Methods

Texte intégral

  • 1status of exception’ (Rules, xvi).

1What Bourdieu brings to literature studies is first and foremost a new method for analysing literary texts. The main aim of that method is to connect internal and external levels of analysis, the relation between which has always been problematic, when it has not been ignored, or declared unfathomable. Yet Bourdieu also employs the same general theories and concepts in his studies of sport, philosophy, politics, journalism, linguistics, and education, as he applies in his studies of literature. This was another of Bourdieu’s stated methodological aims: to remove the ’statut d’exception’ (RA, 10-11)1 that literature holds traditionally in France, which insists it demands a specific approach. That said, there is a surprising degree of overlap between Bourdieu’s sociological theory and more established modes of literary criticism. This chapter will explore these resemblances and differences between Bourdieu’s method and more familiar critical approaches, including biography, close reading, and structuralist and Russian Formalist approaches, as a way of introducing Bourdieu’s theory to readers from literary backgrounds. It will also look at some of the main criticisms and developments that have been made of Bourdieu’s theory, and suggest avenues for further enquiry. First, it is useful to examine the epistemological basis of Bourdieu’s theory of fields, which he draws from the philosophy of science of Gaston Bachelard, one of Bourdieu’s professors at the ENS. This opening section will explain the basic methodological underpinnings of Bourdieu’s method, which attempts to apply the same ’structuralist’ or ’relational’ principles that are used in the most advanced sciences, such as mathematics and physics, to the study of social phenomena. It will also explain the grounds on which Bourdieu makes his claim to have produced a ’science of works’, which we have seen has provoked consternation from critics, who have seen it as a mark of ’reductionism’. This chapter will then serve as a preliminary to the examination, in Chapter 3, of Bourdieu’s analysis of the French literary field up to the nineteenth century, and of the central notion of autonomy.

Epistemological preliminaries

  • 2 Pierre Bourdieu, ’Structuralism and Theory of Sociological Knowledge’, Social Research, 35 (1968), (...)
  • 3 Gaston Bachelard, La Formation de l’esprit scientifique, 4th edn (Paris: Vrin, 1965), pp. 24–34, c (...)
  • 4 ’the author and the reader thought at the same level’ (Craft, 233).

2In his 1968 work Le Métier de sociologue (with Jean-Claude Passeron and Jean-Claude Chamboredon), and the early article ’Structuralism and Theory of Sociological Knowledge’,2 Bourdieu set out to place the human sciences on the same epistemological footing as the natural sciences. This meant, primarily, applying the ’relational’ or ’structuralist’ mode of thinking to the study of social groups, and secondly establishing certain rules or standards by which ’objectivity’ or ’scientificity’ could be assessed. This project, Bourdieu claimed, faced particular difficulties when it came to the study of society. The first of these was, paradoxically, the sociologist’s immediate familiarity with the object of study, and the apparent obviousness of common-sense explanations of social mechanisms (MS, 27). This difficulty was exacerbated, according to Bourdieu, by the fact that sociologists had to compete with other authorities for the legitimate representation and interpretation of social reality: in particular with politicians and journalists, who were disposed to side with popular attitudes and preconceptions (it is how they sell newspapers, and win votes). In Le Métier de sociologue, Bourdieu draws a parallel between sociology in the 1960s and the state of the natural sciences in the eighteenth century (according to Gaston Bachelard),3 when science was a subject for polite conversation, and any person of status felt qualified to venture an opinion (often in book form) and ’auteur et lecteur pensaient au même niveau’.4

3It is in fact from Bachelard, better known by literary scholars as the author of La Poétique de l’espace, that Bourdieu derives the fundamental principles by which he defines ’scientific’ sociology. Bourdieu condenses these principles into the axiom that ’le fait scientique est conquis, construit, constaté’ (MS, 24). Scientific knowledge is conquered against everyday, ’spontaneous’, or ’intuitive’ knowledge; constructed as a formalised model; and verified by empirical research and experimentation. This ’experimental cycle’ does not take the form of a series of discrete steps, performed in chronological order, but rather sets up a relation and to-and-fro between theory and experience, which support and inform each other. For instance, the construction of the object as a system of intelligible relations is inseparably a rupture with visible or ’phenomenal’ appearances, which are, however, the basis of verification.

  • 5 ’There is no simple phenomenon, the phenomenon is a tissue of relations’ (trans. J.S.). Gaston Bac (...)
  • 6 ’In the beginning was the relation’ (trans. J.S.), Gaston Bachelard, La Valeur inductive de la rel (...)
  • 7 Structuralism and Theory of Sociological Knowledge’, pp. 687-88.

4The break with ’spontaneous’ or ’intuitive’ knowledge is a rupture with the ’substantialism’ of primary experience or intuition, with its belief in ’essences’ and ’individuals’, and which tries to discover the ’inner properties’ or ’content’ of things. From a scientific perspective, in contrast, Bachelard writes, ’il n’y a pas de phénomène simple, le phénomène est un tissu de relations’.5 The proper object of science is, therefore, to model this invisible ’noumenal structure’ (Bachelard) or ’generative structure’ (Bourdieu), which somehow necessitates the observable phenomena, and which is, for Bourdieu as for Bachelard, the ’real’ or ’objective’ reality. Hence Bachelard’s maxim: ’Au commencement était la Relation’,6 and Bourdieu’s motto (with a play on Hegel): ’le réel est relationnel’ (RP, 17). The model generated by constructing a system of relations can then be verified against experience, or observable phenomena. In ’Structuralism and Theory of Sociological Knowledge’, Bourdieu characterises scientific theory as ’a system of signs organized to represent, through their own relations, the relations among the objects (…) linked to what it symbolizes by a law of analogy’.7

  • 8 Ibid., p. 689.
  • 9 ’the epistemological vector (…) points from the rational to the real and not, as all philosophers (...)
  • 10 Frédéric Vandenberghe, ’ “The Real is Relational”: An Epistemological Analysis of Pierre Bourdieu’ (...)

5The strength of this analogy, and of the principles behind it, is tested by its heuristic value, and corrected in light of the problems or difficulties it encounters. In Bourdieu’s words (citing the linguist and philosopher Hans Reichenbach), ’the strength of proof of a relation empirically discovered (…) is a function of those ’chains of proofs’ that ’may be stronger than their weakest link, even stronger than their strongest link’, since their validity is measured not only by the simplicity and coherence of the principles employed, but by the range and diversity of the facts considered and by the multiplicity of unforeseen consequences’.8 It is important to stress the order of this procedure. As Bachelard (cited in Le Métier de sociologue) writes, ’le vecteur épistémologique (…) va du rationnel au réel et non point, à l’inverse, de la réalité au général, comme le professaient tous les philosophes depuis Aristote jusqu’à Bacon’ (MS, 54).9 What happens in reality is re-interpreted in the light of the constructed model, rather than scientific knowledge being based in the first instance on direct observation (as it is in the positivist tradition). As Vandenberghe writes: ’Paradoxically, it is to render the contact with reality more precise and more penetrating that science is forced to carry out, as Gilles-Gaston Granger beautifully says, ”a detour via the realm of abstraction’’’.10

  • 11 ’It is perhaps the curse of the human sciences that they deal with a speaking object (Craft, 37).
  • 12 See Ernst Cassirer, Substance et fonction (Paris: Éditions de Minuit, 1977).

6In Le Métier de sociologue, Bourdieu describes the positivist tendency as particularly strong in sociology, partly because of the nature of its object. ’C’est peut-être la malédiction des sciences de l’homme’, he writes, ’que d’avoir affaire à un objet qui parle’ (MS, 56).11 Sociologists who accept the informants’ own explanations and interpretations merely document the preconceptions of the subjects they are studying, and have not yet operated the break with ’common-sense’. According to Bourdieu, an adequate sociological model should be able to account for (without for all that simply reproducing) agents’ subjective experiences and representations, by constructing a model of their relative positions and trajectories in social space. The scientist must therefore adopt a particular way of thinking, to which Bourdieu refers, again following Bachelard (but also the German philosopher Ernst Cassirer) as the ’relational mode of thought’.12 Both Bachelard and Cassirer saw ’relational thinking’, as exemplified by mathematics and physics, as one of the cornerstones of modern scientific thought (RA, 298 n.8). We can appreciate that sociology again encounters particular obstacles when it attempts to apply this ordinary principle to the study of individuals, groups, or institutions, whom or which we are encouraged to think of and treat as distinct and self-enclosed entities, by the full weight of convention, the law, and even morality.

  • 13 ’The question of whether sociology is or is not a science, and science like others, therefore has (...)
  • 14 ’well-guarded scientific city’ (Craft, 233).
  • 15 See Pierre Bourdieu, ’La Spécificité du champ scientifique et les conditions sociales du progrès d (...)

7Bourdieu saw the definition of the principles of a ’scientific’ sociology as one of the first steps to creating the conditions under which they could be applied systematically. In this sense, he argues, the question ’de savoir si la sociologie est ou non une science, et une science comme les autres’, shifts to the question of which ’type d’organisation et de fonctionnement de la cité savante [est] le plus favorable à l’apparition et au développement d’une recherche soumise à des contrôles strictement scientifiques’ (MS, 103).13 Here Bourdieu draws, one last time, on Bachelard, and his image of a ’cité savante homogène et bien gardée’ (MS, 309)14 to describe an ideal situation in which social scientists would hold each other collectively to account, and compete solely in the stakes of ’truth’ or ’objectivity’. It is only by working towards the creation of these social conditions, which would cultivate and inculcate ’good’ scientific practices (to which the statement of the rules that would govern such a scientific community is a contribution) that we can expect the progress and spread of scientific reason.15 We can notice how Bourdieu’s ’constative’ definition of science turns by necessity into a ’normative’ prescription: by defining the principles of a scientific sociology Bourdieu was also contributing to bring it into being, as he observes in his later work Méditations pascaliennes:

  • 16 ’One does not easily leave the spontaneously performative logic of language, which, as I have alwa (...)

En fait, il n’est pas d’assertion constative concernant ce champ qui ne puisse faire l’objet d’une lecture normative (…). On ne sort pas si facilement de la logique spontanément performative du langage qui, comme je n’ai pas cessé de le rappeler, contribue toujours à faire (ou à faire exister) ce qu’il dit, notamment à travers l’efficacité constructive inséparablement cognitive et politique des classements (MP, 139-40).16

8Bourdieu’s indebtedness to Bachelard has become better recognised by Anglophone scholars in recent years, by researchers including Loïc Wacquant, David Swartz, and Frédéric Vandenberghe. Vandenberghe, in particular, gives Bachelard a special position on the long list of authors with whom Bourdieu engages (that is, both builds on and challenges), writing:

  • 17 Vandenberghe, ’The Real is Relational’, p. 32.

Bourdieu is not a syncretic but a synthetic and heretical thinker. He draws on Durkheim, Marx, Weber, and others but insofar as he critically corrects them, one could as well describe him as an anti-Durkheimian Durkheimian, an anti-Weberian Weberian, or an anti-Marxist Marxist. One could even say that he thinks with Althusser against Althusser and against Habermas with Habermas, but not – and this is probably the only exception – that he thinks with Bachelard against Bachelard.17

  • 18 On this topic, see Robert J.C. Young, White Mythologies: Writing History and the West (London and (...)

9Yet we should perhaps be more sceptical of Bourdieu’s claims to be a faithful disciple, who closely follows Bachelard’s epistemological prescriptions. Bourdieu’s claims in this respect are undone by his evolutionary conception of the historical emergence of autonomous fields (Bachelard’s conception of history was anything but evolutionary) and by his cumulative conception of the history of science (again, this directly contradicts Bachelard’s understanding of the history of science).18 For Bachelard, as later for Thomas Kuhn, whom Bourdieu does criticise on this point, scientific progress takes the form of sudden ’epistemological ruptures’ (for Kuhn, ’paradigm shifts’), which cannot be accounted for within the model of a continuous history. As we will see in the next chapter, Bourdieu in contrast emphasises the continuity and rupture within any transformation of knowledge, whether in literature or science, and he locates the impetus for such changes not in the disembodied framework of concepts and theories (the Bachelardian ’problematic’), but in the struggle between flesh-and-blood agents with passions and needs.

  • 19 Gaston Bachelard La Poétique de l’espace (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1957). The foll (...)
  • 20 ’how (…) this singular and ephemeral event which is the apparition of a poetic image can arise – w (...)
  • 21 ’the notion of principle, of a “base”, would be ruinous’ (trans. J.S.).

10It is also notable that in their specific works on literature Bourdieu and Bachelard again part company. The apparent universality and transhistoricity of certain cultural works is one of the founding presuppositions in La Poétique de l’espace,19 which Bachelard sets out to discover ’comment (…) cet événement singulier et éphémère qu’est l’apparition d’une image poétique singulière, peut-il réagir – sans aucune préparation – sur d’autres âmes, dans d’autres coeurs’.20 It would be difficult to find a more perfect expression of what Bourdieu calls the myth of the ’pure gaze’, which would be able somehow spontaneously to appreciate and understand works of art and literature. Indeed, in La Poétique de l’espace, Bachelard states explicitly his intention to leave his ’habitudes intellectuelles’ as a rationalist philosopher of science behind, in order to found ’une phénoménologie de l’imagination’ in which, he claims, ’la notion de principe, la notion de ”base”, serait (…) ruineuse’.21 As in his philosophy of scientific reason, Bachelard refuses to apply the same principles of probability and causality to the social world that he sees governing the natural world. Bourdieu, in contrast, studies the literary and artistic fields using the same general principles (his theory of fields) that he applies not only in his sociology of science, but also to literature and diverse other fields. In his work on literature, Bourdieu was therefore thinking ’with Bachelard against Bachelard’, whose studies of poetry and art were a deliberate departure from his own ’applied rationalism’.

The author’s point of view

  • 22 ’The goal of a true critic should be to discover which problem the author posed himself (knowingly (...)

11Bourdieu presents his method of literature analysis as a response to a challenge laid down by the French poet and literary critic Paul Valéry: ’L’objet d’un vrai critique devrait être de découvrir quel problème l’auteur s’est posé (sans le savoir ou le sachant) et de chercher s’il l’a résolu ou non’ (RA, 351).22 He also refers to a problem posed by Gustave Flaubert:

  • 23 ’Where do you know [of] a criticism? Who is there who is anxious about the work in itself, in an i (...)

Où connaissez-vous une critique qui s’inquiète de l’œuvre en soi, d’une façon intense? On analyse très finement le milieu où elle s’est produite et les causes qui l’ont amenée; mais la poétique insciente, d’où elle résulte? Sa composition, son style? le point de vue de l’auteur? Jamais ! (RA, 149)23

12Bourdieu interprets these challenges as a call to reconstruct the problematic (or ’space of possibilities’ [espace des possibles]) as it faced a particular author, and to try to understand, as if from ’the author’s point of view’, why the author responded in the way (s)he did, given the manifold pressures and constraints (s)he was under.

  • 24 Pierre Duhem cited by Bourdieu in ’Structuralism and Theory of Sociological Knowledge’, p. 688.

13Bourdieu summarises his analysis as operating on three levels, which are nestled like Chinese boxes fitting one inside of the other. First, Bourdieu opens the biggest box, and analyses the position of the literary field in the ’field of power’. Next, he opens the middle box, and maps the positions of individuals, groups, and institutions in the literary field. Finally, he opens the smallest box, and traces the genesis of agents’ habitus. To this schema, we need to add the analysis of literary texts in the ’space of works’. It might also be useful to add the transnational dimension of ’world literary space’, as developed by Pascale Casanova. Like Bachelard’s epistemological check-list, these three steps should not be thought of as discrete stages, or a rigid programme. Each level of analysis needs to take in the information provided by the others, so that the analysis may start at any point along the cycle. Thus, Les Règles begins (disconcertingly, from a strict methodological standpoint) with an ’internal’ analysis of Flaubert’s L’Éducation sentimentale (RA, 19-71). Yet from this reading he is able to trace several clues with regard to Flaubert’s social position and trajectory, which are corroborated by his sociological research and vice versa. In this respect, to borrow an image Pierre Duhem uses to describe structural research more generally (although resisting, for reasons to be explained in Chapter 4, the suggestion of aestheticisation), Bourdieu’s model resembles ’a symbolic painting to which incessant retouching gives greater extent and unity (…), while each detail, cut off from the whole, loses any meaning and no longer represents anything’.24

The field of power

  • 25 ’the space of relations between agents or between institutions having in common the possession of (...)

14The first stage of Bourdieu’s analysis is to locate the literary field as something like a ’status group’ (Weber) in ’the field of power’. The field of power is defined in Les Règles as ’l’espace des rapports de force entre des agents ou des institutions ayant en commun de posséder le capital nécessaire pour occuper des positions dominantes dans les différents champs (économique ou culturel notamment)’ (RA, 353).25 Close to the notion of a ’dominant class’, it is, however, a ’relational’ concept, which tries to move us away from the study of isolated populations, agents, and groups, towards the study of the structure of the relations that exist between them. The notion of a field of power also implies a break with the representation of the social world found in some forms of Marxism, which pits the owners of the means of production against the labour force. The field of power is split between competing factions (the fields), and polarised between the holders of economic and political power, who are dominant over all, and the holders of ’cultural capital’, who are ’dominated dominators’: structurally subordinate, but with the (symbolic) power to legitimate or discredit the dominant group.

15What Bourdieu describes in his studies of French culture and society, including La Distinction and La Noblesse d’État, is an historical state of the field of power, which took its present form over the second half of the nineteenth century, in Flaubert’s time, when ’cultural capital’ became almost entirely disassociated from economic capital. Indeed, Bourdieu finds a very accurate depiction of the field of power written into L’Éducation sentimentale. At one pole, Bourdieu positions rich bankers like M. Dambreuse, who have very high levels of economic capital and other material assets, but relatively little cultural capital (educational qualifications, cultural knowledge, artistic competence). At the other pole, he positions the artists and intellectuals who gather at the art merchant Arnoux’s, who have very high levels of cultural capital, but relatively little economic capital. In the central positions Bourdieu positions lawyers, doctors, and upper level state bureaucrats, who possess approximately equal levels of both economic and cultural capitals. This is where Bourdieu situates Frédéric (and Flaubert himself).

  • 26 Loïc Wacquant, ’From Ruling Class to Field of Power: An Interview with Pierre Bourdieu on La Noble (...)
  • 27 ’translation or of refraction’ (Rules, 220).

16Yet Bourdieu also claims that the structure of the field of power is ’transhistorical’ and even ’quasi-universal’, surviving in various forms over the centuries, and arising in different cultures and civilisations. Bourdieu follows Georges Duby to find a precedent in the opposition between the bellatores (those who fight) and oratores (those who pray) in medieval society, and refers to Georges Dumézil’s trifunctional hypothesis, which discovers the same triad in Indian society (which splits between the Brahmin and Kshatriya castes), and represented in various mythic systems. The third term refers to the dominated, peasants, commoners, or workers. As well as the forms of power changing, the balance of power varies over time and between national traditions.26 Indeed, Bourdieu claims that many social struggles and upheavals, sometimes explained by ’class conflict’, can better be understood as extensions of the struggles between the dominant over their relative power (or the value of their capitals and their ’rates of exchange’), as the ’dominated-dominant’ ally themselves provisionally (and precariously) with the dominated (MP, 124). Bourdieu offers few clues, however, how to gauge the position of a literary field in the field of power. According to Bourdieu, the value of the literary field’s capital is tied to its autonomy, which can be measured – but how accurately, or consistently? – by writers’ ability to resist or ignore external (especially religious, political, and commercial) demands. This resistance can be also seen in the works they produce, by the degree of ’retraduction ou de réfraction27 they exercise over religious or political representations (i.e., by their degree of ’artistic freedom’ over the form), and by their ability to choose their own content (for example, by depicting scenes considered to be ’vulgar’, ’ignoble’, or merely ’mediocre’, according to dominant norms). The symbolic power and autonomy accorded to writers is also manifested by their ability to contest temporal powers, by invoking their own norms and values (’truth’, ’justice’, ’beauty’, the ’ideal’, and so on), against those of the dominant (order, profit, power, etc.) (RA, 360-61). These measures seem rather inexact, however, and in practice Bourdieu only locates the position of the French literary field in the field of power in rather an approximate and impressionistic way.

  • 28 Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson, Literary France: The Making of a Culture (Barkeley, CA: University o (...)
  • 29 See Ferguson, The Making of a Culture, especially pp. 17-18.
  • 30 See Pascale Casanova, La République mondiale des lettres (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 2008), pp. 35- (...)

17In her study Literary France: The Making of a Culture,28 Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson identifies a number of variables that can be used more accurately to measure the stock of writers’ capital, in comparison with other periods and societies. Ferguson analyses the number of books published and bought each year, and the time spent reading per inhabitant, but also the number of publishers and bookstores, instances of official consecration (writers appearing on bank notes, stamps, monuments and street names, etc.), and press coverage (space allotted to literary topics in newspapers, time given to literature on television programmes).29 We could observe the absence of these: high levels of illiteracy, a weak distribution network (including publishers, libraries, magazines, newspapers), the absence of official instances of consecration, etc., as evidence of a comparative lack of cultural capital.30

18Positioning the literary field in the field of power (or gauging the symbolic value accorded to the specific capital of the writer) can help us understand why particular authors were drawn to the profession and many of their practices and representations when they arrive there. For example, when we know that the literary field occupies a ’dominateddominant’ position in the field of power, we can understand the ambivalence many writers express or manifest toward both the dominant and the dominated, both in their writings and by their fluctuating political allegiances (RA, 353). To different degrees depending on their positions in the literary field, writers seek to define themselves both against the ’vulgar’ crowd and the ’philistine’ bourgeois, compensating for what they lack in economic capital by accumulating cultural capital.

  • 31 Paul Valéry, ’La Liberté de l’Esprit’, in Regards sur le monde actuel, in Œuvres, 2 vols, ed. Jean (...)
  • 32 ’Of what is this capital called Culture or Civilization composed? It is constituted first by thing (...)
  • 33 Pierre Bourdieu, ’The (Three) Forms of Capital’, trans. Richard Nice, in Handbook of Theory and Re (...)
  • 34 ’The (Three) Forms of Capital’, p. 243.
  • 35 Ibid., p. 244.
  • 36 Valéry, ’La Liberté de l’esprit’, p. 1090.

19As Pascale Casanova has shown, the notion of ’cultural capital’ (sometimes presented as one of Bourdieu’s great theoretical innovations) finds a precedent in the work of the poet and literary critic Paul Valéry. 31 ’Ce capital Culture ou Civilisation’, Valéry writes, ’est d’abord constitué par des choses, des objets matériels – livres, tableaux, instruments, etc., qui ont leur durée probable, leur fragilité, leur précarité de choses’.32 Valéry’s words find an echo in Bourdieu’s main theoretical article on ’The (Three) Forms of Capital’ (1986),33 which similarly identifies an ’objectified state’ in which cultural capital can exist: ’in the form of cultural goods (pictures, books, dictionaries, instruments, machines, etc.)’.34 Cultural capital can also exist in an ’embodied state; i.e. in the form of long-lasting dispositions of the mind and body’, according to Bourdieu.35 Cultural capital can be internalised in the course of socialisation (whether accompanied or not by a formal education), which inculcates the ’dispositions’ and ’schemes of perception and appreciation’ necessary to engage in cultural practices. Valéry says much the same:36

  • 37 ’In order for the material of a culture to constitute capital, it is also necessary that there be (...)

Pour que le matériel de la culture soit un capital, il exige (…) l’existence d’hommes qui aient besoin de lui, et qui puissent s’en servir, – c’est-à-dire d’hommes qui aient soif de connaissance et de puissance de transformations intérieures, soif de développements de leur sensibilité et qui sachent, d’autre part, acquérir ou exercer ce qu’il faut d’habitudes, de discipline intellectuelle, de conventions et de pratiques pour utiliser l’arsenal de documents et d’instruments que les siècles ont accumulé.37

  • 38 ’The (Three) Forms of Capital’, p. 243.

20Bourdieu also adds a third form which cultural capital can take: an ’institutionalized state (…) which must be set apart because, as (…) seen in the case of educational qualifications, it confers entirely original properties on the cultural capital which it is presumed to guarantee’. Formal acts of accreditation (such as educational credentials, recognised posts, university positions, literary prizes, etc.) guarantee the social value of cultural capital, by providing symbolic recognition and (more or less indirectly) access to economic remuneration.38

  • 39 ’Champ intellectuel et projet créateur’, p. 874.

21We know that Bourdieu was familiar with Valéry’s oeuvre. We can find him citing the poet and writer from his first article on literature,39 and on several occasions in Les Règles (RA, 351; 523). Without claiming Valéry to be the source for Bourdieu’s concept of cultural capital, which was first formulated in his research into the unequal scholastic achievement of children from the different classes and class fractions, and was only gradually elaborated by its use in different empirical contexts), it is possible that Bourdieu had come across Valéry’s essay, and been influenced by his metaphor. Which is not one of the places one would usually look for a ’precursor’ to Bourdieu.

The literary field

22The next step in Bourdieu’s analysis is to plot the positions of writers in the ’literary field’. This space is ’relatively autonomous’ from the field of power, enclosing the struggle between writers. However, due to the influence of the political and economic fields, the literary field is always divided between two broad groups or ’sub-fields’, which operate according to two opposed and opposite principles. In the case of the French literary field from the nineteenth century up to today, Bourdieu positions, at one pole, writers of bestsellers, whose success is measured by the number of copies sold, and by the popularity of their works with the public and the media. Bourdieu terms these writers ’heteronomous’, signifying their state of being beholden to influences, norms, or standards external to the field. At the other pole, Bourdieu positions ’pure’ or ’autonomous’ writers, who respect no judgement other than that of their peers, and to whom too rapid or great commercial success may even be suspicious. Although these writers tend to be less successful in commercial terms (especially at the early stages of their careers), they receive the specific profits or ’symbolic capital’ bestowed by the field (literary prizes, publication with a prestigious editing house, favourable reviews in specialist journals, etc.), through which they can slowly build recognition in the wider community, and perhaps gain the ultimate consecration of the school and university, by being included in the canon and on the curriculum. There is, then, a ’structural homology’ between the literary field and the field of power, which is also split between two principles of hierarchy and two competing forms of power (RA, 246).

  • 40 ’The same intention of autonomy can in effect be expressed in opposite positiontakings (secular in (...)
  • 41 Denis Saint-Jacques and Alain Viala, ’À propos du champ littéraire: Histoire, géographie, histoire (...)
  • 42 Maurice Lemire, ’L’Autonomisation de la “Littérature Nationale” au xixe siècle’, Études Littéraire (...)

23Again, as in the case of the field of power there can be considerable variation between the two ’poles’ on the literary field across time and national traditions, in terms both of their relative power and the form of their opposition. For instance, ’la même intention d’autonomie’ Bourdieu writes, ’peut en effet s’exprimer dans des prises de position opposées (laïques dans un cas, religieuses dans un autre) selon la structure et l’histoire des pouvoirs contre lesquels elle doit s’affirmer’ (RA, 551).40 Autonomy does not necessarily mean therefore ’l’art pour l’art’, as it appears in the French case, but can take many, sometimes paradoxical forms, depending on the particular constraints and pressures operating on and within the field. In their studies of the literary field in Quebec, for example, Denis Saint-Jacques and Alain Viala found the impulse for literary autonomy coupled with that for political autonomy, and not defined against it.41 In their struggle to define themselves against both the bordering Anglophone space and the French tradition, Quebecois writers have come positively to identify themselves with everything that can distinguish them from their more powerful literary and political neighbours, adopting for instance motifs from Catholicism in an Anglo-Saxon Protestant milieu, and ’regionalist’ themes against the ’universalist’ French literary tradition. As Maurice Lemire notes, in a contradictory move Quebecois writers submit to the codes and conventions of morality and religion, in order to affirm their independence from cultural domination.42 This is not to say that Quebecois literature is of any less ’universal’ worth than French autonomous literature, which tends to eschew political or religious content in literature. Indeed, its very implication in political struggle could, in a different light, give it more ’universal’ appeal than a literature that understands itself to be so (for a full discussion of Bourdieu’s notion of ’universality’, see Chapter 6 in the present study).

24Like the social space as a whole, the literary field also has its dominant and dominated factions. The dominant positions at the autonomous pole are occupied by consecrated authors, who have ’made a name’ for themselves by setting a new trend, or by becoming associated with a particular style or genre. These writers have also begun to impose themselves beyond the field, where their growing prestige attracts a wider audience. The dominant positions at the opposite pole are occupied by authors who cater to the dominant faction of the general public. They receive, along with high financial rewards from their affluent and highly literate readership, the benefits of bourgeois consecration (favourable reviews in the bourgeois press, friendships and matrimonial ties, symbols of institutional consecration such as the légion d’honneur or a seat at the Académie, and so on). Popular writers are doubly discredited, as both mass market and for addressing a lower-class readership. Opposite popular writers stand the new avant-garde: writers who challenge the consecrated avant-garde, in the name of the same values of ’novelty’ and ’independence’ that had propelled their forerunners into power, or justifying their own revolution in terms of a lost ’purity’ or ’return to origins’. Because of the specialised and experimental nature of their work, these authors can have few if any readers beyond the close circle of their peers, and have as yet accumulated little ’symbolic capital’. Also in this dominated position are failed or failing writers, who, behind the times, remain faithful to a declining or unsuccessful position. Indeed, there is often some ambiguity as to who belongs in each of these categories: as to who is a misunderstood genius or a second-rate talent (RA, 358).

25In Les Règles, Bourdieu represents the French literary field at the end of the nineteenth century visually, by means of two sociogrammes. In his diagram of ’Le champ de production culturelle dans le champ du pouvoir et dans l’espace social’, Bourdieu represents French society or ’social space’ as a rectangle traversed by two axes. The vertical axis measures the total volume of both forms of capital. The horizontal axis measures relative amounts of economic and cultural capitals, which, as we have been seeing, are inversely proportional (i.e., the more cultural capital one has, the less economic capital one has, and vice versa). Another box, situated in the top area of the sociogramme, represents the field of power. Within this space Bourdieu locates the field of cultural production on the left towards the cultural pole. Within the field of cultural production itself Bourdieu draws two sub-fields: the sub-field of restricted production, and the sub-field of mass production. The second sociogramme provides a close-up map of these two sub-fields. Bourdieu represents the system of oppositions between literary schools and groups by arrows linking their names, which are placed in the approximate area of the sociogramme corresponding to their positions in the field, defined by the volume and ’structure’ (or ratio) of their capitals (RA, 205). Both these sociogrammes are, however, rather impressionistic. Informed by Bourdieu’s other studies of fields, they rely less on quantitative data than on wide knowledge and intuition.

  • 43 Pierre Bourdieu and Monique de Saint Martin, ’Anatomie du goût’, Actes de la recherche en sciences (...)
  • 44 Pierre Bourdieu, ’Une Révolution Conservatrice dans l’Édition’, Actes de la recherche en sciences (...)
  • 45 In this discussion of Bourdieu’s use of correspondence analysis, I rely on Henry Rouanet, Werner A (...)
  • 46 ’The affinity between that method of mathematical analysis and thinking in terms of fields’ (Scien (...)
  • 47 Cited and translated by Henry Rouanet et al., ’The Geometric Analysis of Questionnaires’, p. 8.

26In his other major studies of fields, from his 1978 article (with Monique de Saint Martin) ’Anatomie du goût’43 to one of his last major studies, his analysis of the French publishing field in the 1990s ’Une Révolution conservatrice dans l’édition’,44 but most famously in La Distinction, Bourdieu uses Multiple Correspondence Analysis) as a way of plotting large amounts of data graphically and discerning their patterns.45 MCA is primarily a technique for representing the rows and columns of a two-way contingency table (such as an Individuals x Properties table), in a joint plot. The result is a ’cloud’ of points, which provides a visual representation of the relationships between the row categories and the column categories in the same two-dimensional space. The calculations and visual representation are usually performed using specially designed computer software (in the original draft of La Distinction, however, the simultaneous display of the ’space of individuals’ and the ’space of properties’ was achieved by layering transparent papers). Bourdieu discovered correspondence analysis from the ’French Data Analysis’ school led by Jean-Paul Benzécri, at around the same time he was developing his concept of field in the late 1960s. Bourdieu speaks of ’l’affinité entre cette méthode d’analyse mathématique et la pensée en termes de champ’ (SSR, 70).46 It is, he writes, ’essentially a relational procedure whose philosophy fully expresses what in my view constitutes social reality. It is a procedure that ’thinks’ in relations, as I try to do it with the concept of field’.47 Since the 1970s, MCA has been used extensively by Bourdieu, his co-workers, and researchers following a similar research method.

  • 48 Jürgen Gerhards and Helmut K. Anheier, ’The Literary Field: An Empirical Investigation of Bourdieu (...)

27MCA has been used by researchers including Jürgan Gerhards, Helmut Anheier, and Gisèle Sapiro in their empirical investigations of literary fields.48 Gerhards and Anheier use MCA to test Bourdieu’s description of the literary field as a relatively autonomous and internally differentiated and stratified social system, in the case of writers in Cologne. Data for the analysis and interpretation was collected by interviews with Cologne writers, conducted with the help of a semi-standardised questionnaire. The authors studied variables such as level of familiarity with the literary work of their colleagues, frequency of informal relationships with other writers, level of assistance received from colleagues preparing manuscripts and establishing contact with publishers, and reference group orientation (measured by their response to the question of whom they would most like to invite to dinner). The authors also collected data on educational level, membership of literary groups or societies, age, and number of books published. This information was then plotted and analysed using MCA and block-model analysis (another relational mode of statistical analysis). The authors concluded that, indeed, the literary field in Cologne is divided between ’legitimate’ (autonomous) and ’illegitimate’ (heteronomous) groups, and between the elite and junior elite (or the old and new avantgardes), plus writers on the periphery. One of the frequent criticisms of statistical analyses, of course, is that they expend a great deal of time and effort to tell us relatively little.

  • 49 Sapiro, ’La Raison Littéraire’, p. 18.

28Sapiro’s article shows how MCA can be used to support, and can even suggest, less expected hypotheses. In her study of ’Le Champ littéraire sous l’Occupation (1940-1944)’, Sapiro shows that writers whose positions in the literary field relied on the esteem of their peers (i.e., who were the richest in terms of specific symbolic capital) were also the most likely to resist the German occupation, while those writers more open to heteronomous definitions of literary success (in particular the sanction of the market) were also more likely to collaborate. Not only were autonomous writers in a way adapted already to clandestine activity, which hardly changed their conditions of production (limited print-runs, restricted readership, little remuneration, etc.); they also formed a relatively self-sufficient and close-knit community, oriented by a shared system of values which they collectively supported and reinforced, without need for outside approval or legitimation.49 Sapiro’s analysis supports Bourdieu’s hypothesis in Les Règles that it is an author’s position in the literary field, and the ’interests’ attached to it, which determines his or her ’position-takings’ (prises de position), not only in the literary field, but in the political sphere as well. This finding reverses the more usual assumption that fictional writing reflects or expresses political allegiances and convictions (RA, 379-80).

29The strong association between MCA and Bourdieusian analysis is likely to be a barrier to literary scholars, who are (at least in the current division of academic skills and labour) unlikely to possess the competence required to perform such complex statistical analyses. Indeed, although he did involve himself at all stages of the collection process, Bourdieu did not always do his own data analysis, but collaborated for this purpose with statisticians including Brigitte Le Roux, Rosine Christin, Alain Darbel, and Salah Bouhedja. It is also worth remembering that Bourdieu himself does not use MCA in Les Règles de l’art, but instead relies on discursive indicators such as first-hand accounts (in letters and journals), reviews, literary history and criticism, and so on. Indeed, literary scholars may be more practised and skilled in this sort of archive work and close reading than their sociologist colleagues.

  • 50 ’a true structural homology’ (Rules, 204).

30The notion of a literary field finds a parallel in the literary tradition in the well-worn notion of a ’Republic of Letters’, used since the seventeenth century to designate the community of intellectuals and writers. Bourdieu finds many of the properties of the literary field captured already by this notion, as described by Pierre Bayle (1647-1706): the battle of all against all, the closure of the field upon itself, the freedom encouraged by the field, and so on. Bourdieu argues, however, that this notion has never served as the basis of a rigorous analysis, and warns that, by focusing on the similarities (based on ’une véritable homologie structurale’50) between the literary and political fields, it risks reducing literary struggles to the struggle for social power, without recognising the specific profits and interests in the field (RA, 337-38).

  • 51 ’a consensual image of a very conflictual universe’ (Rules, 382).
  • 52weak degree of institutionalization’ (Rules, 382).
  • 53 ’A field becomes an apparatus when the dominant have the ability to suppress any resistance and re (...)
  • 54 Howard Becker, ’Art as Collective Action’, American Sociological Review, vol. XXXIX (1974), 767-76 (...)
  • 55 Bernard Lahire, ’Champ, hors-champ, contrechamp’, in Le Travail sociologique de Pierre Bourdieu, e (...)
  • 56 Bernard Lahire, La Condition littéraire: la double vie des écrivains (Paris: La Découverte, 2006). (...)

31Bourdieu also argues against replacing the notion of field with that of a ’literary institution’, which, with its Durkheimian connotations, he writes, gives ’une image consensuelle d’un univers très conflictuel’,51 and loses sight of one of the most significant characteristics of the literary field, which is its ’faible degré d’institutionnalisation’ (RA, 379 n. 21).52 The French literary field has no formal qualifications for entry (such as educational credentials, entry tests, etc.), no universally recognised instance of institutional consecration or arbitration, and few formalised prescriptions for the role or post of the writer. Indeed, idiosyncrasy and rebelliousness are encouraged (RA, 370-71). For similar reasons, Bourdieu finds the concept of field more apt than Louis Althusser’s notion of an ’ideological state apparatus’ (ISA), with which it is, however, compatible. According to Bourdieu, ’un champ devient un appareil lorsque les dominants ont les moyens d’annuler la résistance et les réactions des dominés’ (QS, 136).53 From this perspective, the French literary field would appear very little like an apparatus, since it has been since the nineteenth century the site of a ’révolution permanente’, where a new avant-garde is established every ten or twelve years. Finally, Bourdieu distinguishes his notion of cultural fields from that of Howard Becker’s ’art world’, which he defines as ’consisting of all those people and organizations whose activity is necessary to produce the kind of events and objects which that world characteristically produces’.54 This ’cooperating network’ reduces relations to direct interactions, and gives a rather irenic vision of a social field rife with symbolic violence and competition (RA, 338-39). Bernard Lahire warns us, however, that ’tout contexte pertinent d’activité n’est pas un champ’.55 There may be situations where groupings are more ephemeral, chaotic, or less focused around a unifying problematic than the notion of field implies. In such circumstances less systematic terms, such as ’grouping’, ’milieu’, or ’space’, may be more appropriate. The term ’grouping’, for example, may be better for fragile and short-lived microstructures; while ’space’ could be used to describe the macro-relations between more dispersed and disparate groups. Lahire notes that writers, who are often obliged to earn their living from other employment, are more like ’players’ who regularly enter and leave the game than stable ’agents’ in a field. For this reason, Lahire prefers to speak of a ’literary game’ in his book La Condition littéraire: la double vie des écrivains56 Bourdieu himself switches disconcertingly between the terms champ (field), espace (space), and univers (universe), and also refers to a ’marché des biens symboliques’ – without really ever explaining their differences. The point, no doubt, is to encourage his readers to ’think relationally’ (IRS, 63), and remember that our apparent object (say, a particular writer or group of writers) is always caught in a much wider web of relationships. Bourdieu’s use of near-synonyms can be confusing however, especially alongside his strong insistence that the concept of field is irreplaceable with the notions of a Republic of Letters, literary institution, or art world (all of which he can also be found to use).

  • 57 ’To produce effects is already to exist in a field, even if these effects are mere reactions of re (...)
  • 58 Jeremy F. Lane, Bourdieu’s Politics: Problems and Possibilities (London: Routledge, 2006), pp. 89- (...)

32An important question concerns the limits of the field, or the population to be studied. ’C’est déjà exister dans un champ’, Bourdieu writes, ’que d’y produire des effets, fût-ce de simples réactions de résistance ou d’exclusion’ (RA, 369-70).57 Jeremy Lane finds this explanation unconvincing, however, as it seems to beg the question: ’In order to know which agents produce effects in a given field, it would be necessary to know in advance the boundaries of that field, otherwise it would not be possible to assess whether particular agents were producing effects within or beyond its boundaries’.58 Yet Bourdieu insisted on the need to acknowledge and explain the different and competing definitions of the boundaries of the field, which are in a perpetual state of flux (flou). Following and anticipating this historical movement is not the same as knowing the boundaries in advance. Indeed, who is ’in’ and ’out’ is, in Bourdieu’s theory, both constantly evolving and a matter of controversy – and the model should be able to explain and adjust to this change and ambiguity (RA, 365).

  • 59 ’the model of reality to the reality of the model’ (Logic, 39).
  • 60 Anna Boschetti, ’How Field Theory Can Contribute to the Knowledge of the World Literary Space’, un (...)
  • 61 Vandenberghe, ’The Real is Relational’, pp. 32-67.

33Anna Boschetti criticises Bourdieu for naturalising the concept of field, which is only a theoretical tool. According to Boschetti, Bourdieu would make the same reifying move ’du modèle de la réalité à la réalité du modèle’ (SP, 67)59 for which he criticises Lévi-Strauss and Marxism. Bourdieu finds this error behind both Lévi-Strauss’ rigidly rule-bound structuralism, which leaves little room for agency, and the Marxist confusion of classeson- paper for really mobilised and self-conscious classes. Similarly for Boschetti, Bourdieu makes the mistake of thinking that the literary field really exists in reality. ’It would be better and simpler’, Boschetti proposes, ’to wonder if in our object there are aspects that could be explained using Field Theory’.60 Yet if Boschetti’s solution avoids the reifying move from the model of reality to the reality of the model, it risks tipping into the opposite error, that of conventionalism – which, as Frédéric Vandenberghe has shown, is probably the stronger tendency in Bourdieu.61 Indeed, we may want to side with Vandenberghe on this issue, and argue against Bourdieu (and Boschetti) that ’a theory has to be ontologically bold rather than epistemologically cautious’. Researchers need to make a commitment to the realism of their models, otherwise the referential relation between the model and reality becomes, in Vandenberghe’s words, ’ontologically obscure’.

  • 62 See Vandenberghe, ’The Real is Relational’, p. 62, n. 55.
  • 63 See e.g. Roy Bhaskar, A Realist Theory of Science, (Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1975); (...)

34As an alternative, Vandenberghe refers to the British philosopher Roy Bhaskar, whose ’critical realism’ keeps a clear concept of independent reality alongside the historicity and relativity of knowledge.62 In other words, we can claim that something like a field objectively exists, without insisting either that it is an unconscious mechanism, or that its agents are fully or continuously aware of their involvement in the system. Needless to say, Bourdieu contested the charge of conventionalism, and in a reply to Vandenberghe’s article claimed that, like Bhaskar (whose works he had read only recently), he had been a ’realist’ all along.63 Notwithstanding Bourdieu’s protest, Boschetti’s criticism of Bourdieu’s apparent ’naturalization’ of the notion of field, and Vandenberghe’s opposite judgement (that ’ (at worst) he reduces ontology to epistemology and (at best) he avoids making ontological commitments by resorting to a conventionalist (…)’philosophy of the as if’’), raise a complex point in Bourdieu’s theory of sociological knowledge, which we will find also impacts on his conception of literature, to which point we will return in Chapter 4.

Habitus and trajectory

  • 64 ’the series of positions successively occupied by the same agent or the same group of agents in su (...)

35The third stage of Bourdieu’s method traces the ’trajectory’ of writers, defined as ’la série des positions successivement occupées par un meme agent ou un même groupe d’agents dans des espaces successifs’ (RA, 425; RP, 88).64 Here, Bourdieu meets up with traditional biography, with the difference that we should no longer simply be looking at an individual life or career, but also at the system of positions and relations between positions in which the events in an agent’s life take place (movements between publishers, genres, groups, etc.). Indeed, Bourdieu is dismissive of ordinary biographical attempts to make sense of a writer’s career in terms of the individual alone. He declares:

  • 65 ’Trying to understand a career or a life as a unique and self-sufficient series of successive even (...)

Essayer de comprendre une vie comme une série unique et à soi suffisante d’événements successifs sans autre lien que l’association à un ’sujet’ dont la constance n’est sans doute que celle d’un nom propre est à peu près aussi absurde que d’essayer de rendre raison d’un trajet dans le métro sans prendre en compte la structure du réseau, c’est-à-dire la matrice des relations objectives entre les différentes stations (RP, 88; RA, 426).65

  • 66 See Plato, Theaetetus (Newburyport, MA: Focus Philosophical Library, Pullins Press, 2004). The pri (...)
  • 67 Pierre Bourdieu, ’A propos de la famille comme catéorie rélisé’, Actes de la recherche en sciences (...)

36The second key term in these reflections is habitus. Close to the traditional notion of ’character’, Íthos (familiar already to literary critics), habitus is produced by habit, ethos. The spontaneous connotations of these terms, however, should not suggest that we are (always) passive sleepwalkers, running on habit. (Although, who has not experienced a shock when performing quite complex tasks, such as driving a car or brushing one’s teeth, even making purchases at the supermarket, when we realise we were not completely aware of what we were doing? Habitus also operates at this ’pre-reflexive’ level.) The Latin term habitus, which Bourdieu traces both to the Greek ethos and to hexis (RA, 294), is more closely related to hexis, which, in Plato’s Theaetetus, implies the effort of concentration or paying attention.66 When we rule out certain courses of action as not being ’true’ to ourselves, because we ’know our place’ or ’it’s not for us’; when we ask ourselves what we ’see ourselves doing’ in five or ten years’ time, or say certain clothes or haircuts ’suit’ us, these are all expressions of habitus. The habitus is, in other words, how we see ourselves in relation to others, what we pay attention to and what we do not habitually pay attention to, and it determines our attitudes towards not only other people, but toward the universe of cultural goods and practices which are formally or potentially available to us – what Bourdieu calls the ’space of lifestyles’ (l’espace des styles de vie) – all of which are imbued with social significance. How are our habitus and trajectory determined? According to Bourdieu, we internalise the information inscribed in our social surroundings, beginning at an early age. Indeed, the first ’field’ is, for Bourdieu, the family, which has its own physical, economic, and symbolic power relations, measured in terms of affection, trust, age, and so on (all of which are, of course, massively determined by social class).67 It is in the family that we first gain a sense of ’who we are’ and ’where we belong’: a stage at which, Bourdieu suggests, sociology could usefully join up with psychoanalysis (MP, 199). The process of socialisation continues through various rites of initiation and institution, from the most obvious (a qualification, entrance into a profession, a promotion, a marriage, etc.), to the slightest (a snub or a sign of appreciation), whereby, as if following a path of least resistance (which is not to say without worries and uncertainty, which form part of the process of investiture) we submit willingly to our destiny: doing, and being, what our families, institutions, society, and we ourselves, expect of us (MP, 198-99).

37In Les Règles, Bourdieu applies his theory of habitus, which he had used most famously in La Distinction to understand patterns of cultural consumption, to understand the practices, strategies, and choices, of cultural producers. Just as he argued that we exclude goods, groups, places, etc. from which we are excluded, and not only because we do not have enough money (entry to many museums, for example, is free, while many items of clothing that brand individuals as members of the lowerclasses cost more than those worn by the middle and even upper-classes), writers’ sense of social identity determines which genres and groups etc. they join in the field, and their ’movements’ when they arrive there. The conditions of existence associated with a high birth, for instance, would seem on Bourdieu’s understanding to favour dispositions such as audacity and indifference to profit, which orient writers from richer backgrounds towards the most extreme and risky positions (because they out-step demand), but which are also often are the most profitable symbolically and even economically (in the long-run), at least for the first ’investors’ who take the credit as ’inventors’ (RA, 430).

  • 68 ’The sense of placement/investment seems to be one of the dispositions most closely linked to soci (...)
  • 69 ’Conversely, it is a bad sense of placement/investment, linked with social or geographic distance, (...)

38Writers need also, however, to be in tune with the latest developments in the field: to have what Bourdieu calls a ’sense of placement’ (sens du placement) or ’feel for the game’ (sens du jeu), which enables them to anticipate where symbolic and economic profit next will fall, not only where they can now be found. This feel for the literary game, Bourdieu writes, ’semble être une des dispositions les plus étroitement liées à l’origine sociale et géographique’ (RA, 430).68 Writers who have been immersed in literary culture, preferably from an early age, internalise not only the sounds and rhythms of prose and poetry, but also a sense for the rhythm and changes in the field: a quasi-instinctual awareness that, when positions are becoming too popular or established, they should move on or try something new. These writers also dispose of the ’social capital’ (networks of friends and acquaintances), and expertise (awareness of the literary heritage) to know when particular positions are getting crowded, and where undeveloped potential lies. ’À l’inverse’, Bourdieu writes, ’c’est un mauvais sens du placement, lié à l’éloignement social ou géographique, qui incite les écrivains issus des classes populaires ou de la petite bourgeoisie et les provinciaux ou les étrangers à se porter vers les positions dominantes au moment où les profits qu’elles assurent tendent à diminuer du fait même de l’attraction qu’elles exercent (…) et de la concurrence intensifiée dont elles sont le lieu (RA, 431).69

  • 70 ’nil displacements’ (Rules, 260).

39Bourdieu identifies two main types or ’familles’ of trajectories within the literary field. The first is limited to one sector of the field, and lies along the same axis of consecration, which moves through negative, zero, to positive. These are descending, static, or ascendant trajectories, within a same sector of the field, measurable in terms of a greater or lesser accumulation of cultural and economic capital. The second type of trajectory implies a change of sector, and the re-conversion of one kind of specific form of capital into another. In Bourdieu’s example, as Symbolist poetry began to lose its prestige, precisely because of the attention and profits it was attracting, its most culturally aware practitioners, grouped around Paul Bourget, switched to the psychological novel, also avoiding naturalism, which they considered too commercial (RA, 431). Symbolic capital can also be converted or ’cashed in’ for economic capital, as in the case of a passage from poetry to theatre, or still more clearly, to cabaret or serialised fiction. An artist who has achieved renown in one area often attracts interest when (s)he switches to a more profitable style or genre (although, this is usually at the cost of discredit in terms of symbolic capital) (FCP, 65 n. 44; RA, 426-27). In much the same way, Bourdieu distinguishes several general categories of intergenerational trajectories to the literary field: directly ascendant from the popular classes or lower middle-class; diagonal from the petite bourgeoisie of shop owners and artisans or peasantry; transversal or horizontal (but in a sense declining) from the business side of the field of power or from its central positions (the ’professions’, lawyers, doctors, etc.). Finally, there are cases of pure reproduction, when the children of writers become writers themselves (Kingsley to Martin Amis): ’déplacements nuls’ (RA, 247).70

  • 71 ’are always made by someone’ (trans. J.S.).
  • 72 ’perfectly subjective’ (trans. J.S.).
  • 73 ’Champ intellectuel et projet créateur’, pp. 877-80.

40The sense a writer has of his or her own position, and ’mission’ or ’vocation’, Bourdieu calls the ’projet créateur’. Far from a fixed and unitary intention, like Sartre’s ’projet originel’, or the implicit assumptions behind most traditional biographies, the ’projet créateur’ is a practical response to the pressures, tensions, and forces in a field which is itself in constant flux, seen from a particular position on the cusp of a trajectory, embodied as the durable dispositions of habitus. The writer’s ’projet créateur’ is capable of quite radical changes and reversals. For instance, in ’Champ intellectuel et projet créateur’, Bourdieu argues that Alain Robbe-Grillet’s understanding of his own work (switching from the statement, in 1953, that ’Les Gommes est un roman descriptif et scientifique’, to the opposite view, in 1961, that the descriptions in Le Voyeur and La Jalousie ’sont toujours faites par quelqu’un’,71 that these descriptions are ’parfaitement subjectives’,72 and that this subjectivity is and has always been the essential characteristic of the ’Nouveau Roman’), was informed and even transformed by the image projected by critics of his work, which changed how the author himself conceived of his work, and so also its future development.73 Conversely, it is also possible for writers to modify the dominant interpretation of their work. Indeed, Bourdieu argues, many works might never have been written, or at least not the way they were, if their authors had been recognised from the outset for the qualities for which they are celebrated in retrospect (RA, 382). In this way, an artist’s ’creative project’ is variable, depending on the state of the field and the reception (s)he receives. It is enough to imagine, Bourdieu suggests, what Zola, Barcos, or Flaubert, might have written, had they been transported to an earlier or later state of the field, and found a different occasion to express their dispositions (for instance, if Flaubert had encountered the theory of the novel which meets modern writers, and which his work has done much to inspire), to see that their ’projet créateurs’ – and so their entire oeuvres – would have been entirely different (RA, 385).

The space of possibilities

  • 74 Claude DuVerlie and Pierre Bourdieu, ’Esquisse d’un projet intellectuel: un entretien avec Pierre (...)

41Bourdieu’s most ambitious claim is to be able to see the logic not only of writers’ social position-takings (between publishers, groups, genres, etc.), but also that behind their construction of literary works. For this, we will need to introduce a final level of analysis, left out from Bourdieu’s threepoint scheme, which is what Bourdieu calls the ’space of works’ (espace des oeuvres). Similar to the more familiar notion of intertextuality, which sees works as referring to one another (by way of refusal, negation, parody, emulation, etc.), Bourdieu’s ’space of works’ sees texts as ’position-takings’ corresponding to particular positions, and to how writers relate to each other in the field. As a point of method, Bourdieu sees this theory of a correspondence or ’homology’ between the ’space of positions’ in the field and the system of differences in the ’space of works’ as a way of overcoming the problematic opposition between ’internal’ and ’external’ levels of analysis. Either the work is treated for itself and in itself (or at best, like the Russian Formalists, as a node within a system of related inter-texts), cut off from any biographical or historical context, or it is read as a sort of allegory for the social or biographical context (or alternatively, critics ignore the question entirely, or attempt a sort of fudge between the two). In contrast, Bourdieu reads the inter-textual differences between texts as expressions of the relations of force, struggle and competition between authors – as ’position-takings’ directed against other authors and their ways of writing – making the history of changes in the space of works and the history of the struggles between writers, in the words Bourdieu borrows from the philosopher Baruch Spinoza, ’deux versions de la même phrase’.74

42Bourdieu maintains a distinction between these two levels of analysis, the ’space of positions’ and the ’space of works’, each of which provides information and insight regarding the other. Micro-textual analysis and macro-social analysis are thereby linked in a sort of hermeneutic circle (not a term Bourdieu uses), in which our understanding of the ’part’ (here, a singular text, defined within a web of intertextual relationships, the ’space of works’) is informed by our understanding of the ’whole’ (the author’s position, again defined relationally in the literary field and in the field of power), which in turn increases with our understanding of the ’part’, and so on. Bourdieu writes:

  • 75 ’Equipped with the hypothesis of a homology between the two structures, research – by setting up a (...)

Armée de l’hypothèse de l’homologie entre les deux structures, la recherche peut, en instaurant un va-et-vient entre les deux espaces et entre les informations identiques qui s’y trouvent proposées sous des apparences différentes, cumuler l’information que livrent à la fois les œuvres lues dans leurs interrelations et les propriétés des agents, ou de leurs positions, elles aussi appréhendées dans leurs relations objectives: telle stratégie stylistique peut ainsi fournir le point de départ d’une recherche sur la trajectoire de son auteur et telle information biographique inciter à lire autrement telle particularité formelle de l’oeuvre ou telle propriété de sa structure (RA, 383).75

  • 76 ’things “to be done”, “movements” to launch, reviews to create, adversaries to combat, established (...)
  • 77 Michel Foucault, ’Réponse au cercle d’epistémologie’, Dits et Écrits 1954-1988, 4 vols, ed. Daniel (...)
  • 78 ’independent existence’ (trans. J.S.).
  • 79 ’field of strategic possibilities’ (trans. J.S.).
  • 80 ’doxical illusion’ (trans. J.S.).
  • 81 ’the points of choice that it leaves free within a given field of objects, within a determined ran (...)
  • 82 ’to the diverging interests or mental habits of individuals’ (trans. J.S.)

43Bourdieu insists that the relation between these two structures is neither direct nor mechanical. Otherwise, we can see that his theory of ’homology’ would quickly collapse into tautology, of the sort ’the author did this because of that, and that because of this’. In between, so to speak, is the ’space of possibilities’ (espace des possibles), which we can think of as including potential courses of action and works which were never in fact realised. Bourdieu describes the space of possibilities as ’un espace orienté et gros des prises de position qui s’y annoncent comme des potentialités objectives, des choses ’à faire’, ’mouvements’ à lancer, revues à créer, adversaires à combattre, prises de position établies à ’dépasser’, etc’. (RA, 384).76 The analyst’s task is then to comprehend the writer’s work as the product as a sort of ’compromise formation’ (the phrase is borrowed from Freud), produced by a unique configuration of social forces and relations coupled with the author’s dispositionBourdieu takes issue on this point with Russian Formalism, and also with Michel Foucault’s theory of épistème. In his 1968 article ’Réponse au Cercle d’Épistémologie’ (RA, 326),77 Foucault insists on the ’existence indépendante’78 of the ’champ des possibilités stratégiques’,79 and, taking the case of science, condemns as an ’illusion doxologique80 any attempt to explain what is produced from it by reference to anything other than ’des points de choix qu’il laisse libre à partir d’un champ d’objets donnés, à partir d’une gamme énonciative déterminée, à partir d’un jeu de concepts définis dans leur contenu et dans leur usage’.81 Indeed, in what may be one of the few inter-textual references to Bourdieu in Foucault’s work, Foucault excludes explicitly all attempts to relate scientific systems (whether biology, economics, or linguistics) ’aux divergences d’intérêts ou d’habitudes mentales chez les individus’,82 or to ’du non-scientifique (du psychologique, du politique, du social, du religieux)’. Bourdieu, who had been formulating at the time his theory of habitus, admits to feeling targeted (RA, 326).

  • 83 Bourdieu’s reference is to Peter Steiner, Russian Formalism: A Metapoetics (Ithaca, NY: Cornell Un (...)

44Likewise, Bourdieu criticises Russian Formalist attempts to explain changes in the ’literary system’ in terms of a ’dialectic’ of ’banalisation’ and ‘debanalisation’ (ostrenanie), which would appear to operate under its own impetus. Like Foucault, Russian Formalism neglects the social dimension, or confuses and conflates the ’space of works’ and the ’field’ of producers. Bourdieu finds this confusion exemplified by the ambiguity of the Russian Formalists’ notion of ustanovka, which can mean either ’intention’ or ’orientation’, understood as ’positioning oneself in relation to some given data’ (RA, 333).83 It is unclear who – or what –the ’subject’ or ’agent’ this process is, and change seems to be attributed to a strange capacity for autotransformation within the ’literary system’ itself.

45Bourdieu, in contrast, locates the impetus behind the evolution of the ’space of works’ squarely in the dynamic relations and struggle between writers in the field. For Bourdieu, there is nothing mechanical in this process, which is not driven by the ’exhaustion’ of existing modes of expression which would prompt the invention of new genres or techniques, but by the influx of new writers, carrying their own social properties, who are looking to define themselves in relation to each other and to writers of the previous generation: to ’make a name’ for themselves, either by conforming to established forms or by inventing new and distinctive modes of production. The analyst’s task is then to explain why particular authors have adopted particular strategies, which propelled them on various trajectories (for example, to one or the other of the field’s two ’poles’, and to a dominant or dominated position within one of the two ’sub-fields’), always in relation to the strategies of others around them. Included in such strategies (alongside manifestos, choices of publisher, etc.), are literary works themselves, which also contain many ’position-takings’ relating to form and subject-matter. Works can then be understood as the expression, translated or ’mediated’ into a literary form, of the author’s social position and history, and by implication as an objectification of the social structure.

46Although they are largely independent in their principle (i.e., in the relations of force which determine them), the outcome of the struggles in the literary field always depend on ’external’ factors, according to Bourdieu. For instance, he observes, the successive waves of romanticism, naturalism, and symbolism, drew support from the new categories of consumers who occupied homologous positions in the social field, and whose interests (defined against those of different social groups) disposed them to be receptive to their products. It follows that a change in the relations of force between consumers (the most dramatic example being a political revolution) can also affect the balance of power in the field. For example, during the last years of the July Monarchy, the swing to the socialist left gave provisional weight to ’social art’, so that even Baudelaire spoke of the ’puérile utopie de l’art pour l’art’, which slid into a dominated third position (RA, 102). Similarly, a global elevation in the level and period of instruction can give a rise to so-called ’intellectual’ literature, as larger numbers take part in cultural practices corresponding to their ’educated’ social status (RA, 416-18 n. 58).

47Yet Bourdieu resists the temptation to draw a direct connection between external changes (such as political revolutions, technical innovations, plagues, or economic crises), and the production of works. Here, Bourdieu crosses swords with Marxist literary theorists including György Lukács and Lucien Goldmann, whom he accuses of what he describes as a ’court-circuit’ error. Marxist critics, Bourdieu claims, attempt to relate works and changes in the space of works directly to the social class and political beliefs of their authors or their readers, or both, whose world-visions, values and truths, they purportedly express. Such theories therefore commit the equal and opposite error to those of Foucault and the Russian Formalists, by losing sight of the literary field as a ’world apart’ with its own history, capable of enforcing its own norms to the extent of its autonomy.

48Bourdieu offers the metaphor of ’refraction’ to counter the theory of ’reflection’ or mirroring of reality he sees behind Marxist theories, by which he does not mean simply ’distortion’ but a retranslation of the broader social struggle into the terms of the literary debate. For example, it is too simplistic, Bourdieu argues, to relate the depictions of rustic and petit-bourgeois life in the works of nineteenth-century realist writers and artists such as Champfleury or Courbet directly to their social origin in the peasantry and petite-bourgeoisie, according to Bourdieu. The dispositions that led them to embrace everything that could define them against the ’bourgeois artists’ they opposed both socially and politically would have been expressed differently in another historical state of the field, when their opposition would also have changed (RA, 436). The effect of ’refraction’ is clearest, however, according to Bourdieu, when bankers, businessmen, or politicians turn their hands to writing, and are obliged to give at least lipservice to the field’s official norms – for example, by avoiding the crudest forms of self-publicity, professing a love of art, and by modifying their usual discourses by adopting certain stock themes, and paying at least minimal attention to form (RA, 362).

  • 84 Here I am transposing to the field of literary theory a critique first made of Bourdieu’s readings (...)
  • 85 See Simon During, Foucault and Literature: Towards a Geneology of Writing (London: Routledge, 1992 (...)
  • 86 See Etienne Balibar and Pierre Macherey, ’On Literature as an Ideological Form’
  • 87 ’the reference to literary studies [in The Rules of Art] is only there to show off the originality (...)

49We can pause to notice Bourdieu’s use of other theorists as tools to think with and against. Bourdieu explores the various positions in the field of criticism, tries to find their background assumptions or their ’principes fondateurs explicites ou implicites’ (RA, 319), and to overcome their apparent contradictions. Yet it can lead to reductionist and misleading portrayals of other theorists.84 Foucault’s essay from his early structuralist phase, for example, is unlikely to be of the most interest or use to literary scholars (see e.g. his later genealogical model, in which discourse analysis is linked to a theory of power/knowledge, and which implicates discourse in a ubiquitous network of power relations).85 And Marxist theoreticians had already by the 1970s rejected the conception of literature as ’a material reflection (…) of objective reality’, and begun themselves to speak about ’relative autonomy’ and ’refraction’.86 Indeed, Bourdieu sounds at times very much like the structuralist Marxist Louis Althusser – one of several critical theorists and social historians he does not cite. Jean-Louis Fabiani’s comment that ’la référence aux études littéraires [dans les Règles de l’art] n’existe que pour faire valoir l’originalité et la puissance théorique de la sociologie de l’auteur’ is probably unfair.87 But his instrumental use of other theories to construct his own position does at times do them injustice, while he ignores others which do not fit his purpose.

  • 88 ’what makes the work of art necessary, that is to say, its informing formula, its generative princ (...)

50This is how Bourdieu responds to the challenges laid down by Flaubert and Valéry, ’de découvrir quel problème l’auteur s’est posé (sans le savoir ou le sachant) et de chercher s’il l’a résolu ou non’; and to understand the ’composition’ and ’style’ of the work from ’le point de vue de l’auteur’. By identifying mentally with the author’s position, and in the light of his or her social origin and trajectory, we should be able to see ’ce qui rend l’œuvre d’art nécessaire, c’est-à-dire la formule informatrice, le principe générateur’ (RA, 15),88 which is nothing other than the basic pattern of action provided by the writer’s habitus, as a result of social history, expressed through the grammar of the ’space of possibilities’. Of course, this ’rational’ theoretical understanding must be distinguished from the practical understanding of the author, who may have had no clear idea of where this research was leading, but who was driven by the desires and emotions attached to his or her position in the literary field (this is how Bourdieu interprets Flaubert’s enigmatic notion of a ’poétique inscient’).

  • 89 ’that you do everything done by the adepts of each of the methods known (internal reading, biograp (...)

51It is not difficult to see why this phase of Bourdieu’s analysis has been so rarely repeated. For one thing it demands an enormous amount of work, as Bourdieu admits: ’que l’on fasse tout ce que font les adeptes de chacune des méthodes connues (lecture interne, analyse biographique, etc.), en général à l’échelle d’un seul auteur, et tout ce qu’il faut faire pour construire réellement le champ des oeuvres et le champ des producteurs et le système des relations qui s’établissent entre ces deux ensembles de relations’ (CD, 176).89 In practice, Bourdieu himself only sketches the broad lines of these two spaces, in his analysis of Flaubert and the field of his contemporaries: often offering only the father’s profession as a marker of social origin, and characterising the different genres and schools according to very generic properties. Nor do we need to construct the ’space of possibilities’ from scratch, from purely bibliographical data and archive research, if we follow Bourdieu’s lead. Bourdieu finds numerous representations of the literary field (and sometimes realised or unrealised plans for action), in writers’ letters, diaries, notebooks, and even in literary works themselves, as well as in more conventional literary histories. Still, in order to achieve the standards of ’scientific’ objectivity Bourdieu sets, we need to be careful to not simply to trust an individual writer’s account, but to place its author in the wider space of positions and points of view in the field, in order to account for the author’s representations and to see what (s)he excludes from his or her personal account.

  • 90 John Guillory, ’Bourdieu’s Refusal’, in Bourdieu: Fieldwork in Culture, ed. Nicholas Brown and Imr (...)

52In more than one respect, Flaubert and L’Éducation sentimentale can seem too easy as targets for this kind of analysis. Not only does Flaubert provide a voluminous correspondence, in which he shows high levels of reflexivity, commenting explicitly on his attempts to keep his distance from contemporaries and immediate precursors, he also provides in L’Éducation sentimentale a very accurate, and Bourdieu claims ’quasi-scientific’, depiction of the nineteenth-century social world in which it was written, including its author’s social position, and even the literary field itself (see Chapter 4 of the present study). John Guillory, for one, finds Bourdieu’s choice of L’Éducation sentimentale ’altogether too fitting, which is to say that it lends itself too easily to Bourdieusian analysis’.90 Certainly, Bourdieu’s analysis reverses his more usual strategy of arguing a fortiori (i.e., choosing the least favourable example by which to establish a general principle), and places a question mark over the more general applicability of his method. As it stands, the link between ’internal’ and ’external’ analysis of the ’space of works’ and ’space of positions’ remains weak, and it is left to later literary researchers to test whether other authors and works are amenable to this method of analysis.

World literary space

  • 91 ’Existe-il une Littérature Belge? Limites d’un champ et fontières politiques’, Études de lettres, (...)
  • 92 ’over-stressed’ (trans. J.S.).
  • 93 Jacques Dubois and Pierre Bourdieu, ’Champ Littéraire et Rapports de Domination’, Textyles, 15 (19 (...)

53Having reached the end of the method Bourdieu outlines in Les Règles de l’art, it may be useful to look in some detail at a major extension of Bourdieu’s theory to the transnational level of ’world literary space’. In the context of cultural studies, translation studies, world-system theories, and post-colonial studies, Bourdieu’s theory seemed to ignore how literary cultures relate to and influence each other. A first tentative attempt to engage with these issues was in fact made in Bourdieu’s 1985 article ’Existe-t-il une literature belge? Limites d’un champ et frontières politiques’.91 Bourdieu studied the relations between the French and Belgian literary fields, and arrived at the controversial conclusion that a Belgian literary field did not, in fact, exist. Arguing that the boundaries between political and literary spaces do not necessarily correspond, Bourdieu claimed that Belgian literature was almost entirely dominated by Parisian literary fashions, and that so-called ’Belgian literature’ was, in reality, merely a sub-field of the encompassing French literary field. In a 1997 interview with Jacques Dubois, Bourdieu admitted he had ’beaucoup accentué’92 the influence exerted by French over Belgian literature, and had underestimated Belgian literature’s power of resistance.93 In the light of more recent research, by Pascale Casanova and others, he came to see Brussels as a sort of ’capitale de la deuxième chance’ and as a counterpower against the dominant Paris, while Belgian writers also served as rolemodels for Irish, Norwegian and other small nations who were similarly dominated by more powerful neighbours.

  • 94 For Bourdieu’s comments on Casanova, see ’Champ Littéraire et Rapports de Domination’, p. 13.

54It was in fact Casanova who, most notably, developed a theory of ’world literary space’ that could be coupled with Bourdieu’s theory, in her 1999 publication La République mondiale des lettres (a book Bourdieu himself described as ’important’94). Casanova’s conception of an ’espace littéraire mondial’ builds explicitly on Bourdieu’s theory of fields, but also transposes Fernand Braudel’s notion of an ’economy-world’ to the literary realm. ’World literary space’, as defined by Casanova, is in some respects a field like any other, but it has its own mode of operation, its own laws of canonisation and capital accumulation, and its own history, which is relatively independent of – but bound by mutual influence to – economic and political history. The notion of a world literary space is useful to understand more precisely the ’influence’ one literary culture can have over another, and their disparities in terms of prestige and the power of consecration: considerations which (as Casanova shows convincingly in case studies of Kafka, Joyce, and Samuel Beckett) can also determine individual writers’ perceptions and strategies.

  • 95 Casanova, La République mondiale des lettres, pp. 135-55.
  • 96 Casanova, La République mondiale des lettres, p. 42. ’Such an index would incorporate a number of (...)
  • 97 ’Fonction et Mystère de l’Académie’, in Regards sur le monde actuel, OEuvres, 2 vols, ed. Jean Hyt (...)

55Casanova observes a link between the prestige or ’nobility’ of a nation’s literature and its age. The first nations to enter the competition for ’cultural capital’ are also the most endowed with literary and linguistic capitals, which survive faster-paced fluctuations in relative economic wealth and political power (this explains the fact that cultural prestige and influence and political power and even autonomy do not necessarily correspond). In the eighteenth century, France emerged as the provisional winner, and Paris as ’world literary capital’ – able to exert its influence over the entire world literary space, and to define literary ’modernity’ (what Casanova calls the ’Greenwich meridian’ of literature).95 Other cities and countries, such as Rome and Madrid in the seventeenth century, and Ireland and Brazil today, have similarly earned levels of literary prestige which are disproportionate with their political and economic standing. Casanova suggests using the ’cultural indicators’ devised by Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson and discussed above to compare literary practices in various countries and their respective stocks of literary capital. To the number of books published each year, time spent reading per inhabitant, etc., and signs of symbolic consecration, Casanova adds the number of translations made of books from a particular language. Casanova also proposes the creation of an index or measure of the strictly literary power and authority of a language and literary tradition. ’Cet indice’, Casanova writes, ’prendrait en compte l’ancienneté, la ’noblesse’, le nombre de textes littéraires, écrits dans cette langue, le nombre de textes reconnus universellement, le nombre de traductions…’.96 Yet her own book contains little quantitative data, and Casanova makes no attempt to make such an index herself. In practice, much of the evidence, and many of the examples, in La République mondiale des lettres are anecdotal and intuitive: based less on ’hard’ (quantitative, numerical) data than on ’subjective’ impressions and accounts. Which, in a social universe where so much depends on opinion and belief (’nous sommes’, writes Valéry, ’ce que nous croyons être et ce que l’on croit que nous sommes’97) may be less of a problem than it appears.

  • 98 Here I follow and build on suggestions by Joe Cleary, in ’Review: The World Literary System: Atlas (...)
  • 99 Pascale Casanova, ’La Littérature Européenne: Juste un degré supérieur d’universalité?’, in L’Espa (...)

56More conspicuous is the absence of China and the Soviet Union from Casanova’s account of literature in the twentieth century. How did these competing spheres of cultural influence, centred on Beijing and Moscow, contribute to structure world literary space?98 Nor does Casanova’s book have much to say about the international circulation of texts (the processes of selection and capital accumulation, how national provenance, translation, or changes of publisher, determines their reception, etc.), beyond noting that the careers of writers including Joyce, Nabokov, and Burgess were launched by their publication in Paris. The link Casanova posits between writers’ individual strategies and the structure of world literary space is also tenuous, as it must be filtered through so many mediations (the national field of power and literary field, and the writers’ social histories). This weakness is gravest in Casanova’s textual analysis, which is never really able to connect the internal structure and properties of texts to macroscopic determinations. Many of these problems relate to economies of scale. In a work that aims at nothing less than to provide a radical remapping of world literary space, simplifications and omissions are inevitable. It is telling that in a later article Casanova suggested that a transnational literary history ’demanderaient, évidemment, des recherches collectives’.99 Researchers applying a similar method could more easily divide their labour and integrate their results, allowing for greater complexity and detail than Casanova achieves in her study.

  • 100 See e.g. Gisèle Sapiro, ed. L’Espace intellectuel en Europe: de la formation des Étatsnations à la (...)
  • 101 See Anna Boschetti, ’Bourdieu’s Work on Literature: Contexts, Stakes and Perspectives’, Theory, Cu (...)
  • 102 (Practical Reason, 13).

57Several works have taken this challenge, notably by the research collective ESSE (Pour un Espace des Sciences Sociales Européen), set up after Bourdieu’s death with the mission of encouraging the international circulation of ideas in the European social sciences, the first step being to analyse the conditions in which such a European intellectual space could be created, and the barriers that prevent it from coming into being. From 2004 to 2009, ESSE brought together researchers from various countries within and outside of Europe. Several of its conferences and publications addressed issues related to the modes of production and the usages of culture, literature, and science, and the international circulation of ideas.100 The comparative method followed by these works, facilitated by the use of a shared theoretical framework, also refutes the claim that Bourdieu’s system is restricted to the particular case of France. Bourdieu’s theory of literary fields has also been used to analyse writers in different national fields and traditions. Researchers using Bourdieu’s concepts and theories have studied the literary fields in Quebec, South Africa, China, and Germany, and particular authors such as Apollinaire, Mallarmé, Beckett, and Borges. These cross-national transpositions are the best evidence that Bourdieu’s method is not limited to France, nor to the national level.101Then again, and as Bourdieu explained to an audience in Japan in 1989, the fact that his theory is transposable to different national traditions does not mean that it loses sight of the particularities and differences between cultures. What Bourdieu proposes is a ’comparatisme de l’essentiel’ (RP, 29),102 which would be able to define the basic principles and mechanisms that regulate societies and which, due to a mix of geographical, economic, and social determinations, have evolved in divergent ways. Testing structural principles far from their initial place of conception, where they can be seen in other possible variations, can validate its scientific universality, or reveal gaps and inconsistencies that can then be rectified. In this sense, Bourdieu’s theory remains a ’work in progress’, which continues to develop in pace with the accumulation of empirical knowledge.

Appendix: reflexivity and reading

58With increasing insistence from the 1980s, Bourdieu presented his sociology as ’reflexive’, a word that appears in the titles of two of his most ’theoretical’ works, Science de la science et réflexivité and Invitation to a Reflexive Sociology. For Bourdieu, reflexivity does not mean the reflection on the individual person of the researcher which became fashionable, particularly among literary scholars but also sociologists, especially in the 1980s and 1990s, but involves instead objectifying one’s own social universe, its history, structure, and mechanisms, and using what we discover to understand our own habitual processes and responses. When Bourdieu studied his native region of Béarn in Le Bal des célibataires, the French system of Grandes Écoles which he attended to in La Noblesse d’État, or even French culture in general, in La Distinction, he was simultaneously analysing the society and culture of which he was a product, and to which he owed his own system of dispositions, thoughts, and perceptions (i.e., habitus). This ’reflexive return’ is no less operational in an historical work such as Les Règles. Bourdieu was part of the intellectual tradition of Flaubert, Zola, and Sartre, whose precedents he followed, and in many of whose values he believed. Then again, his involvement in that intellectual universe also made him subject to all sorts of blind-spots, prejudices, and unspoken interests, which sociological study, conceived as a form of ’auto-socio-analysis’, brought to light. Like Proust excavating lost time and memories, Bourdieu’s study of the history of the intellectual field was also partly a work of ’unforgetting’, or anamnesis, digging up his own ’historical unconscious’: the story of how his own position as an intellectual, the associated dispositions, categories, concepts, interests, etc. (which he shared with his antecedents), how the works he read and the institutions that surrounded him, etc., came into being. Bourdieu believed that reflexivity could provide some measure of control over the ’structures of thought and action’ he and others had internalised from the experience of inhabiting a particular intellectual field and position, and that this would give him a ’margin of liberty’ and critical distance from the dispositions and determinations which, if ignored, could lead to errors biases in his research. For example he claims that reflexivity enabled him to avoid the double danger of positivism and relativism, by historicising the knowledge (and the social conditions of that knowledge) which sociology produces, and which makes sociology possible, without for all that losing the ability to differentiate between better and worse (i.e., more or less accurate) models and theories. Theories and knowledge are seen as cumulative and historical, and as requiring particular conditions for their creation and transmission (which it is, in part, the task of a reflexive sociology to analyse). This runs counter to both the positivist way of looking at statements and labelling them true or false, and the relativism which, recognising how knowledge is determined by social and historical factors, places all modes of thought, concepts and theories, on the same level. Instead, the researcher becomes aware of the social conditions of possibility of his or her own research practice, which sustain a particular way of looking at and thinking about the world, which can be called rational or scientific. Bourdieu writes:

  • 103 ’This totally unprecedented form of reflection leads to repudiating the absolutist pretensions of (...)

Cette forme tout à fait insolite de réflexion conduit à répudier les prétentions absolutistes de l’objectivité classique mais sans condamner pour autant au relativisme: en effet, les conditions de possibilité du sujet scientifique et celles de son objet ne font qu’un et à tout progrès dans la connaissance des conditions sociales de production des sujets scientifiques correspond un progrès dans la connaissance de l’objet scientifique, et inversement. Cela ne se voit jamais aussi bien que lorsque la recherche se donne pour objet le champ scientifique lui-même, c’est-à-dire le véritable sujet de la connaissance scientifique (RA, 343).103

59When one is aware of one’s relationship to the object of study, including one’s differences and similarities (and perhaps especially what Bourdieu calls one’s ’similarity in difference’, based on homology), then every discovery also raises the researcher’s self-awareness (while inversely, every increase in reflexivity also allows the researcher to achieve greater insight into the lives of others). And of course, these relationships will be stronger the closer to the object of the research we are in time and social space.

60Reflexivity, on Bourdieu’s understanding, is also part of what enables the sociologist to do better science: by maintaining a state of ’epistemological vigilance’, which guards against the sort of errors the research identifies and exposes in others. These include, most prominently, ’historical anachronisms’ (imposing modern categories, concepts, and knowledge on past societies and cultures), ’mirror traps’ (when two competing schools or theorists also oppose each other on the terrain of theory, when a solution to their theoretical skirmishes is possible), and ’scholastic bias’ (when the researcher assumes that everyone observes and analyses the world in the way that (s)he does). Of course, it is a truism that it is easier to find fault in others than in ourselves, and that we should try to learn from others’ mistakes. It is also commonplace to attribute people’s beliefs and attitudes to their class, race, and gender. It is more unusual, perhaps, to look for the source of bias and misunderstanding (and also of the will and capacity to overcome them) in terms of one’s implication and position in a particular intellectual field. But researchers have long been aware of belonging to academic disciplines and traditions; that, for instance, established academics are often less receptive to change than younger researchers (in whose interest it is to overturn the dominant paradigm); and that, more generally, we tend to defend the ideas which are our own. In these respects, Bourdieu’s project for a ’reflexive’ social science may be less ’unprecedented’ than he claims.

61Finally, Bourdieu asks for his own texts to be read ’reflexively’: for his readers to turn back and examine their own points of view, using the method demonstrated in his works, before turning away or pronouncing judgment (RA, 342). What this means concretely for literary researchers, is that they can apply the knowledge and concepts contained in Bourdieu’s work to their own particular case, looking for parallels and correlates in their own experience (or if they do not find them, correcting the research and methods accordingly). Bourdieu again contrasts this approach to ’theoretical’ readings, which compare texts only with other texts, or which judge them only on their internal consistency. As a point of interest, Bourdieu traces the preponderance of this approach in France to the once dominant literary tradition of ’close reading’, with its internal analysis and inter-textual comparisons (which may also explain why literary researchers tend to find this kind of ’empirical’ research inimical). As we will see in Chapter 4, there is not necessarily an opposition between ’internal’ and ’external’ modes of reading, although we should be wary of imposing the theoretical idealisations of the model onto the reality, or of making a ’shortcircuit’ by interpreting the text directly in terms of the reality to which it refers or represents. These cautions should apply whether we are concerned with literary or scientific writing and representations of the natural or social worlds. The question of the ’realism’ and ’referent’ of literary and sociological texts, and of the difference between them, is raised in a surprising way in Bourdieu’s analysis of Gustave Flaubert’s classic novel L’Éducation sentimentale, and will be examined more closely in Chapter 4. First, we will see how Bourdieu’s tripartite method of literature analysis, which moves from the field of power to the mapping of the literary field, to the tracing of individual writers’ trajectories and the genesis of their habitus, is used in Les Règles to produce an expansive social history of the literary field, and the position of the writer in French culture.

Notes

1status of exception’ (Rules, xvi).

2 Pierre Bourdieu, ’Structuralism and Theory of Sociological Knowledge’, Social Research, 35 (1968), 681-706.

3 Gaston Bachelard, La Formation de l’esprit scientifique, 4th edn (Paris: Vrin, 1965), pp. 24–34, cited in MS, 307-15.

4 ’the author and the reader thought at the same level’ (Craft, 233).

5 ’There is no simple phenomenon, the phenomenon is a tissue of relations’ (trans. J.S.). Gaston Bachelard, Le Nouvel esprit scientifique (Paris: Librarie Félix Alcan, 1937), p. 25.

6 ’In the beginning was the relation’ (trans. J.S.), Gaston Bachelard, La Valeur inductive de la relativité (Paris: Vrin, 1929), p. 65.

7 Structuralism and Theory of Sociological Knowledge’, pp. 687-88.

8 Ibid., p. 689.

9 ’the epistemological vector (…) points from the rational to the real and not, as all philosophers from Aristotle to Bacon professed, from the real to the general’ (Craft, 36).

10 Frédéric Vandenberghe, ’ “The Real is Relational”: An Epistemological Analysis of Pierre Bourdieu’s Generative Structuralism’, Sociological Theory, 17 (1999), 32-67 (p. 38).

11 ’It is perhaps the curse of the human sciences that they deal with a speaking object (Craft, 37).

12 See Ernst Cassirer, Substance et fonction (Paris: Éditions de Minuit, 1977).

13 ’The question of whether sociology is or is not a science, and science like others, therefore has to give way to the questions of the type of organization and functioning of the ’scientific city’ most conducive to the appearance and development of research that is subject to strictly scientific controls’ (Craft, 75).

14 ’well-guarded scientific city’ (Craft, 233).

15 See Pierre Bourdieu, ’La Spécificité du champ scientifique et les conditions sociales du progrès de la raison’, Sociologie et sociétés, 7 (1975), 91-118; ’Le Champ scientifique’, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 2-3 (1976), 88-104.

16 ’One does not easily leave the spontaneously performative logic of language, which, as I have always insisted, helps to make (or make exist) what it says, especially through the inseparably cognitive and political constructive efficacy of classifications’ (Meditations, 117).

17 Vandenberghe, ’The Real is Relational’, p. 32.

18 On this topic, see Robert J.C. Young, White Mythologies: Writing History and the West (London and New York: Routledge, 1990), pp. 84-86.

19 Gaston Bachelard La Poétique de l’espace (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1957). The following citations are from pp. 1-5.

20 ’how (…) this singular and ephemeral event which is the apparition of a poetic image can arise – without any preparation – in other hearts, in other minds’ (trans. J.S.).

21 ’the notion of principle, of a “base”, would be ruinous’ (trans. J.S.).

22 ’The goal of a true critic should be to discover which problem the author posed himself (knowingly or not) and to find whether he solved it or not’ (Rules, 214).

23 ’Where do you know [of] a criticism? Who is there who is anxious about the work in itself, in an intense way? They analyse very keenly the setting in which it is produced and the causes leading to it; but as for the unknowing [inscient] poetics? Where does it come from? And the composition and style? The author’s point of view? Never!’ (Rules, 87).

24 Pierre Duhem cited by Bourdieu in ’Structuralism and Theory of Sociological Knowledge’, p. 688.

25 ’the space of relations between agents or between institutions having in common the possession of the capital necessary to occupy the dominant positions in different fields (economic or cultural notably)’ (Rules, 215).

26 Loïc Wacquant, ’From Ruling Class to Field of Power: An Interview with Pierre Bourdieu on La Noblesse d’État’, Theory Culture Society, 10 (1993), 19-44 (pp. 22-24).

27 ’translation or of refraction’ (Rules, 220).

28 Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson, Literary France: The Making of a Culture (Barkeley, CA: University of California, 1987).

29 See Ferguson, The Making of a Culture, especially pp. 17-18.

30 See Pascale Casanova, La République mondiale des lettres (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 2008), pp. 35-37.

31 Paul Valéry, ’La Liberté de l’Esprit’, in Regards sur le monde actuel, in Œuvres, 2 vols, ed. Jean Hytier (Paris: Gallimard, 1960), vol. 2, pp. 1077-106 (p. 1090).

32 ’Of what is this capital called Culture or Civilization composed? It is constituted first by things, material objects – books, paintings, instruments, etc., which have their own probable lifespan, their own fragility, the precariousness that things have’ cited in Pascale Casanova, The World Republic of Letters, trans. M. B. Debevoise (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005), p. 14.

33 Pierre Bourdieu, ’The (Three) Forms of Capital’, trans. Richard Nice, in Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education, ed. John G. Richardson (New York: Greenwood, 1986), pp. 241-55 (first publ. as ’Ökonomisches Kapital, kulturelles Kapital, soziales Kapital’, in Soziale Ungleichheiten, ed. Reinhard Kreckel (Goettingen: Otto Schartz & Co., 1983), pp. 183-98.

34 ’The (Three) Forms of Capital’, p. 243.

35 Ibid., p. 244.

36 Valéry, ’La Liberté de l’esprit’, p. 1090.

37 ’In order for the material of a culture to constitute capital, it is also necessary that there be men who have need of it and who are able to make use of it (…) and who know, on the other hand, how to acquire and exercise what is necessary in the way of habits, intellectual discipline, conventions, and practices for using the arsenal of documents and instruments that has been accumulated over the centuries’, cited in World Republic, p. 15.

38 ’The (Three) Forms of Capital’, p. 243.

39 ’Champ intellectuel et projet créateur’, p. 874.

40 ’The same intention of autonomy can in effect be expressed in opposite positiontakings (secular in one case, religious in another) according to the structure and the history of the powers against which it must assert itself’ (Rules, 343).

41 Denis Saint-Jacques and Alain Viala, ’À propos du champ littéraire: Histoire, géographie, histoire littéraire’, in Le Travail sociologique de Pierre Bourdieu, ed. Bernard Lahire (Paris: La Découvert, 1999), pp. 59-74 (pp. 67-68).

42 Maurice Lemire, ’L’Autonomisation de la “Littérature Nationale” au xixe siècle’, Études Littéraires, 20 (1987), 75-98 (p. 95).

43 Pierre Bourdieu and Monique de Saint Martin, ’Anatomie du goût’, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 5 (1976), 5-81.

44 Pierre Bourdieu, ’Une Révolution Conservatrice dans l’Édition’, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 126 (1999), 3-28.

45 In this discussion of Bourdieu’s use of correspondence analysis, I rely on Henry Rouanet, Werner Ackermann and Brigitte Le Roux, ’The Geometric Analysis of Questionnaires: The Lesson of Bourdieu’s La Distinction’, Bulletin de Méthodologie Sociologique, 65 (2000), 5-15; and Dianne Phillips, ’Correspondence Analysis’, Social Research Update, 7 (1995), at http://sru.soc.surrey.ac.uk/SRU7.html consulted on 31/08/11.

46 ’The affinity between that method of mathematical analysis and thinking in terms of fields’ (Science, 33).

47 Cited and translated by Henry Rouanet et al., ’The Geometric Analysis of Questionnaires’, p. 8.

48 Jürgen Gerhards and Helmut K. Anheier, ’The Literary Field: An Empirical Investigation of Bourdieu’s Sociology of Art’, International Sociology, 4 (1989), 131-46. Gisèle Sapiro, ’La Raison littéraire: le champ littéraire français sous l’occupation’, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 111 (1996), 3-35.

49 Sapiro, ’La Raison Littéraire’, p. 18.

50 ’a true structural homology’ (Rules, 204).

51 ’a consensual image of a very conflictual universe’ (Rules, 382).

52weak degree of institutionalization’ (Rules, 382).

53 ’A field becomes an apparatus when the dominant have the ability to suppress any resistance and reactions from the dominated’ (trans. J.S.).

54 Howard Becker, ’Art as Collective Action’, American Sociological Review, vol. XXXIX (1974), 767-76 (p. 774).

55 Bernard Lahire, ’Champ, hors-champ, contrechamp’, in Le Travail sociologique de Pierre Bourdieu, ed. Bernard Lahire, pp. 23-57 (p. 32). ’Not every pertinent context is a field’ (trans. J.S.).

56 Bernard Lahire, La Condition littéraire: la double vie des écrivains (Paris: La Découverte, 2006). See also Bernard Lahire, ’Le Champ et le jeu’, in Bourdieu et la littérature, ed. Jean-Pierre Martin, pp. 143-72.

57 ’To produce effects is already to exist in a field, even if these effects are mere reactions of resistance or exclusion’ (Rules, 225).

58 Jeremy F. Lane, Bourdieu’s Politics: Problems and Possibilities (London: Routledge, 2006), pp. 89-90.

59 ’the model of reality to the reality of the model’ (Logic, 39).

60 Anna Boschetti, ’How Field Theory Can Contribute to the Knowledge of the World Literary Space’, unpublished paper given on 16 May 2009 at Bourdieu and Literature conference, University of Warwick.

61 Vandenberghe, ’The Real is Relational’, pp. 32-67.

62 See Vandenberghe, ’The Real is Relational’, p. 62, n. 55.

63 See e.g. Roy Bhaskar, A Realist Theory of Science, (Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1975); and The Possibility of Naturalism (Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1989).

64 ’the series of positions successively occupied by the same agent or the same group of agents in successive spaces’ (Rules, 258).

65 ’Trying to understand a career or a life as a unique and self-sufficient series of successive events without another link than the association with a ’subject’ (whose consistency is perhaps only that of a socially recognized proper name) is almost as absurd as trying to make sense of a trip on the metro without taking the structure of the network into account, meaning the matrix of objective relations between the different stations’ (Rules, 258-59).

66 See Plato, Theaetetus (Newburyport, MA: Focus Philosophical Library, Pullins Press, 2004). The primary reference to hexis, which is translated into Latin as habitus, is at 153 BC. See also Joe Sachs, ’Introduction’, in Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, trans. Joe Sachs, (Newburyport, MA: Focus Philosophical Library, Pullins Press, 2002). I am grateful to Prof. Sachs for help with these references.

67 Pierre Bourdieu, ’A propos de la famille comme catéorie rélisé’, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales 100 (1993), 32-36.

68 ’The sense of placement/investment seems to be one of the dispositions most closely linked to social and geographical origin’ (Rules, 262).

69 ’Conversely, it is a bad sense of placement/investment, linked with social or geographic distance, which sends writers from the working class or the petitebourgeoisie, provincials or foreigners, towards the dominant positions at the moment when the profits they provide tend to be diminishing due to the very attraction they exercise (…) and due to the intensified competition focused on them’ (Rules, 262).

70 ’nil displacements’ (Rules, 260).

71 ’are always made by someone’ (trans. J.S.).

72 ’perfectly subjective’ (trans. J.S.).

73 ’Champ intellectuel et projet créateur’, pp. 877-80.

74 Claude DuVerlie and Pierre Bourdieu, ’Esquisse d’un projet intellectuel: un entretien avec Pierre Bourdieu’, The French Review, 61 (1987), 194-205 (p. 204).

75 ’Equipped with the hypothesis of a homology between the two structures, research – by setting up a to-and-fro between the two spaces and between identical data offered there under different guises – may accumulate the information which delivers works read at the same time in their interrelations, and the properties of agents, or their positions, also apprehended in their objective relations. A stylistic strategy of this sort may thus furnish the starting point for a search for the author’s trajectory, or some piece of biographical information may incite us to read differently some formal particularity of the work or such a property of the structure’ (Rules, 234 trans. modified J.S.).

76 ’things “to be done”, “movements” to launch, reviews to create, adversaries to combat, established position-takings to be “overtaken” and so forth’ (Rules, 235).

77 Michel Foucault, ’Réponse au cercle d’epistémologie’, Dits et Écrits 1954-1988, 4 vols, ed. Daniel Derfert and François Ewald (Paris: Gallimard, 1994), vol. 1, 696-731 (first publ. in Cahiers pour l’Analyse, 9 (1968), 9-40). The quotations which follow are from p. 727.

78 ’independent existence’ (trans. J.S.).

79 ’field of strategic possibilities’ (trans. J.S.).

80 ’doxical illusion’ (trans. J.S.).

81 ’the points of choice that it leaves free within a given field of objects, within a determined range of enunciations, within a play of concepts defined in their content and their usage’ (trans. J.S.).

82 ’to the diverging interests or mental habits of individuals’ (trans. J.S.)

83 Bourdieu’s reference is to Peter Steiner, Russian Formalism: A Metapoetics (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1984), p. 124.

84 Here I am transposing to the field of literary theory a critique first made of Bourdieu’s readings of the field of social theory in Rogers Brubaker, ’Social Theory as Habitus’, in Bourdieu: Critical Perspectives, ed. Craig Calhoun, Edward LiPuma and Moishe Postone, pp. 212-34.

85 See Simon During, Foucault and Literature: Towards a Geneology of Writing (London: Routledge, 1992).

86 See Etienne Balibar and Pierre Macherey, ’On Literature as an Ideological Form’

in Untying the Text: A Post-Structuralist Reader, ed. Robert J.C. Young (Boston:

Routledge, 1981), 79-99.

87 ’the reference to literary studies [in The Rules of Art] is only there to show off the originality and theoretical power of the author’s sociology’ (trans. J.S.). Jean- Louis Fabiani, ’Les Règles du champ’, in Le Travail sociologique de Pierre Bourdieu, ed. Bernard Lahire (Paris: La Découverte, 1999), pp. 75-91 (p. 82).

88 ’what makes the work of art necessary, that is to say, its informing formula, its generative principle’ (Rules, xix).

89 ’that you do everything done by the adepts of each of the methods known (internal reading, biographical analysis, etc.), in general on the level of one single author, and that everything that you must do in order to really construct the field of works and the field of producers and the system of relations established between these two sets of relations’ (Other Words, 196, trans. modified J.S.).

90 John Guillory, ’Bourdieu’s Refusal’, in Bourdieu: Fieldwork in Culture, ed. Nicholas Brown and Imre Szeman, pp. 19-43 (p. 34)

91 ’Existe-il une Littérature Belge? Limites d’un champ et fontières politiques’, Études de lettres, 4 (1985), 3-6.

92 ’over-stressed’ (trans. J.S.).

93 Jacques Dubois and Pierre Bourdieu, ’Champ Littéraire et Rapports de Domination’, Textyles, 15 (1998), 12-16 (p. 13).

94 For Bourdieu’s comments on Casanova, see ’Champ Littéraire et Rapports de Domination’, p. 13.

95 Casanova, La République mondiale des lettres, pp. 135-55.

96 Casanova, La République mondiale des lettres, p. 42. ’Such an index would incorporate a number of factors: the age, the ’nobility’, and the number of literary texts written in a given language, the number of universally recognized works, the number of translations, and so on’. World Republic, p. 20.

97 ’Fonction et Mystère de l’Académie’, in Regards sur le monde actuel, OEuvres, 2 vols, ed. Jean Hytier (Paris: Gallimard, 1960), vol. 2, pp. 1119-27 (p. 1120). ’We are what we believe ourselves to be and what others believe we are’ (trans. J.S.).

98 Here I follow and build on suggestions by Joe Cleary, in ’Review: The World Literary System: Atlas and Epitaph’, Field Day Review, 2 (2006), 196-219.

99 Pascale Casanova, ’La Littérature Européenne: Juste un degré supérieur d’universalité?’, in L’Espace culturel transnational, ed. Anna Boschetti (Paris: Nouveau Monde Édition, 2010), pp. 233-47 (p. 234 n. 2). ’Would obviously demand collective research’ (trans. J.S.).

100 See e.g. Gisèle Sapiro, ed. L’Espace intellectuel en Europe: de la formation des Étatsnations à la mondialisation, xixe-xxe siècle (Paris: Éditions du Nouveau Monde, 2009); and Anna Boschetti, ed. L’Espace culturel transnational.

101 See Anna Boschetti, ’Bourdieu’s Work on Literature: Contexts, Stakes and Perspectives’, Theory, Culture & Society, 23 (2006), 135-55 (p. 147).

102 (Practical Reason, 13).

103 ’This totally unprecedented form of reflection leads to repudiating the absolutist pretensions of classical objectivity, but without being then condemned to relativism. In effect, the conditions of possibility of the scientific subject and those of its object are one and the same; to any progress in the knowledge of the social conditions of production of scientific subjects corresponds progress in the knowledge of the scientific object, and vice versa. This is never as well observed s when research takes as its object the scientific field itself, that is to say, the veritable subject of scientific knowledge’ (Rules, 208).

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