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Sociological Theories and Social Transformation

1- In what ways do modern sociological theories continue to have relevance for contemporary social transformations?

Pierre Bourdieu (Fr. Pierre Bourdieu, August 1, 1930 – January 23, 2002) – was French sociologist and philosopher, the representative of the direction of post structuralist social theory, the creator of the theory of social field, the theory of habitus.

In identifying and studying the effect of social relations, Bourdieu suggested using a combination of two fundamental approaches:

  1. structuralism – in the social system there is an objective structure, independent of consciousness and will of the people, but are able to stimulate one or another of their actions and aspirations;
  2. constructivism – the actions of people, due to life experience, the process of socialization, “form a social agent as a truly practical operator construction sites.”

There are many ways in which modern sociological theories continue to have relevance for contemporary social transformations. For example, Bourdieu’s theory is integrated sociological theory and represents an attempt to overcome the contradictions between the macro-and micro-analysis, agent and structure, which generates the so-called “paired concepts”. In the basis of Bourdieu’s theory lie in the first place, the fundamental ideas of the classics, which express two opposite approaches to the definition of the object of sociology: a research program of Marx, the starting point which relies extensively to understand the structure (socio-economic formation), and a program of Weber, who comes from the concept social action. Insofar as the agent and structure are related dialectically, Bourdieu attempts to remove the contradiction between them and introduces some of its concepts, as stated in Sociological theories and perspectives.

Central to the sociological theory of Bourdieu are the concepts of “habitus” and “social space” through which overcome the gap between macro-and microanalysis of social realities.

According to Bourdieu, the objective social environment produces a habit – “a system of durable dispositions acquired; in the future, they are used by individuals as the initial installation, which give rise to specific social practices of individuals, as described in Being critical: the practical logic of Bourdieu’s metanoia.

Social space – it is logically conceivable construct a kind of an environment in which social relations is carried out. Social space does not coincide with the physical, but physical space aspires to be in line with the social. Social space can be described as a set of fields that are specific homogeneous “sub-spaces” (for example, the field of literature, the economic field, etc.), which gives power over the possession of scarce goods – capital: namely, the distribution of different types of capital (economic, cultural, social, symbolic) in the social space and its structures.

For example, some researchers believe the symbolic capital of the cultural views, while others state that the cultural capital refers to one of the most important forms of symbolic capital. In some cases, confusion arises because both the cultural and symbolic capital based on knowledge: the first is education and common cultural competence in the second – an expert influence, for example, power is based on knowledge and recognition of the credibility of this knowledge by others, as stated in Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture.

Education for Bourdieu – is a field, more than the other focused on reproduction, given that agents are competent enough for such reproduction. Bourdieu sees it as a component of the cultural capital of the agent. “Cultural capital can act in three states: state incorporated (embodied state), for example, in the form of long-term disposition of the mind and body, objectified state (objectified state) – in the form of cultural goods (pictures, books, dictionaries, tools, machines, etc.) is an imprint or embodiment of theories or criticism, a range of issues, etc., and finally the state institutionalized (institutionalized state), for example in the form of objectification”. Objectified state of cultural capital is indirectly connected with educational potential, whereas the incorporated and institutionalized are two sides of the phenomenon of the educational potential of the individual, as described in Emotional Capital and Education – Theoretical Insights from Bourdieu.

Capital is a “power over”. “Certain types of capital as trump cards in the game are the power that determines the winning chances in this field. The volume of cultural capital (the same applies, mutatis mutandis, to the economic capital) determines the total chances of getting a win in all games that involve cultural capital, and where it is involved in determining the position in social space (to the extent that this position depends on success in the cultural field). The accumulation of cultural capital suggests “the process of turning into a solid form, the incorporation of.”, as described by Bourdieu P.

Because this process involves efforts to develop and assimilation, it takes time before all the “investor”. Consequently, the least inaccurate measurements of cultural capital are those that are elected as the standard length of time the acquisition of the desired properties – of course, provided that the latter can not be reduced to the length of schooling and taken into account and also an earlier home-schooling “, as stated in Bourdieu and Education for Sustainable Development: analysis of an interview Justin Karol, Monash University. Cultural capital, because it is an integral part of the personality, can not be instantly transferred to another person through an act of gift or inheritance, exchange or purchase. Therefore, the use of cultural capital poses certain challenges to the owners of the economic or political capital, for example, how you can buy and concentrate this capital?

2- Discussion of the main points.

A. Bourdieu’s theoretical approach to education as a field of Social Reproduction and its relationship with contemporary social transformation process.

In a theoretical proposal to contemporary sociological theory, some elements are worth highlighting: the reinterpretation of classics, the construction of concepts and critical attitude of intellectuals before taking a political position, these elements melded into its sociological discussion. When composing, for example the idea of field, Bourdieu speaks to the idea of spheres, proposed by Max Weber, and also with the concept of social class of Marx, as described in What is sociological theory?

Bourdieu, allowing you to have your thinking labeled adopts the nomenclature constructivism constructivist structuralism. This position is to admit that there is objective in the social structures that can drive, or rather to coerce action and representation of individuals, called agents. However, such structures are socially constructed as well as the schemes of thought and action, called by Bourdieu’s habitus.

Bourdieu tries to escape the dichotomy of subjectivism / objectivism within the humanities. Rejects both work within physicalism, while considering the social objective facts, as in the psychologism, which would be the “explanation of the explanations.”

The time subjective and objective social relations are in a dialectical relationship. There are really the objective structures that constrain the representations and actions of the agents, but these, in turn, in their daily lives, can transform or preserve such structures, as stated in Social transformation.

One of the most important issues in Bourdieu’s work centers on analysis is of how agents embody the social structure, while that produce it, legitimate and reproduce. In this sense we can say that he is in dialogue with structuralism, while thinking about what kind of agents have autonomy. Bourdieu, then, aims to overcome both objectivism and subjectivism structuralist interactionist (phenomenological, semiotic).

As the diversification of capital and the multiplication of autonomous fields (these two parcels for Bourdieu – the conceptual equivalent designations single epochal developments as the field of capital and mutually determine and clarify each other), to the extent that the more obvious “mechanical solidarity” poorly differentiated and substitutable forces is giving way to complicated “organic solidarity surface” is quite divided and disparate forms of capital – rising tensions, threatening to turn into a collision. For the fact that various forms of capital now created a formula for domination, it means the need to reckon with the various principles of social superiority and legitimacy, the peace between them. The stakes in this struggle among the dominant (often mistaken for a confrontation of the ruling and subordinate classes) is the relative value and power of competing forms of capital, in particular, delivered “exchange rate” currency economy and culture.

It is here and it is necessary to consider a system of elite higher education institutions. In societies characterized by the co-presence and competition of different forms of government, are increasingly relying on the conversion of “credentials” as a means to perpetuate itself, this system not only ensures the preferred and fast access to key positions sons, ancestors, they have monopolized (full membership nobles, especially by blood or diploma, in fact, the prerogative of men). The high degree of autonomy and internal differentiation of such a system, corresponding to the antinomy between money and culture, which organizes the entire field of power – also provides a “clearance” of emerging conflicts by recognizing and rewarding the claims to scientific and social differences.

“Smart Schools”, such as the “Ecole Normale Superieure”, – the nursery of the upper layer of French intellectuals. They attract mostly students who are the strongest in the stretch of these schools, because, above all, their inclinations embody the kind of capital that these schools require children of the cultural section of the bourgeoisie. Institutions have to prepare the captains of industry and Member States, such as “School of Higher Commercial Studies” and “Polytechnic School” – is, above all, the reserve of students that came from economically rich parts of the upper stratum of the bourgeoisie in France. Between these two poles of the elite schools in France is the “National School of Administration, of which the Torah hail rained Cabinet members and senior civil servants, as described in Lane, Pierre Bourdieu: A Critical Introduction.

Providing a separate transmission privilege, and recognizing the competing, even antagonistic, claims of superiority in his order, the field of elite schools isolates and soothes the different categories of heirs to the authorities, ensures better than any other way to peace with subordinates – an integral part of the spoils hegemony. Therefore, not individual agencies, and the entire field, formed by them, provides exactly the same field the reproduction of the changing matrix that simulate the differences and distances that form the social system.

Limit the centralization and high social selectivity rooted in long-term relationships between different classes in state-building and education, as well as the separation of universities and schools of the Grand, “the readiness with which the swarm is sanctified by the secular (bourgeois) cultural baggage, and the resulting hence the stiffness – all this makes the education system in France suitable territory the Tories for the disclosure of unobvious connection between science and social classes, and two-faced communication both poles of the field of power through tacit agreement / conflict. Specificity of empirical data should not distract from the broader applicability of the analytical framework used for its processing. Properly understood, “the State to know” provides a systematic exploration program of any national fields of power, of course, if an American (British, Japanese, Brazilian, etc.) reader will try to create, through similar reasoning, organized set of hypotheses for comparative research in their own country, as described in Emotional Capital and Education – Theoretical Insights from Bourdieu.

Bourdieu suggests that the growth of “new capital” always turns into a shift from direct methods of reproduction, when power is transferred, in fact – within the family, through the economic proper sequence, mediated by school renewal, where inheritance privileges to one carried out simultaneously and converted by the intersection with the institutions of education. But, again, all the ruling classes resort to both methods simultaneously. Bourdieu took the trouble to show that the increase in the relative weight of cultural term capital does not cancel the ability of economic capital will automatically expand, as described by Bourdieu.

B. Educational capital and its relationship to cultural capital which in turn leads to better employment and higher economic/social capital.

Social capital – is the social glue that allows mobilizing additional resources in relationships based on trust people to each other. Social capital – is the ability of individuals to dispose of limited resources on the basis of their membership in particular social networks or larger social structure … The ability to accumulate social capital is not an individual characteristic of the individual, it is a feature of the network of relations, which builds the individual. Thus, social capital – is a product of human involvement in the social structure.
Costs of education were considered not only direct costs but also the opportunity cost – lost income during training, or the value of time spent in school. Return on investment in education G. Becker calculated as the ratio of revenues to costs, receiving approximately 12-14% of annual profits. As part of the sociological field of the most influential was the notion of “cultural capital” introduced by Pierre Bourdieu in his “Outline of the theory of practical action”(1972).

By analogy with the “human capital”, under the cultural capital refers to the benefits that elites are transmitted to their children (skills spoken and written language, aesthetic values, the ability to interact with people, focus on achievement in school) and extend their social mobility. High demands on schools that need to meet in order to remain successful, contribute to the reproduction of class inequality and the further accumulation of cultural capital in the hands of elites. Educational capital is connected to the cultural capital, and further it leads to better employment and higher economic/social capital. Cultural capital – is the knowledge that enables its possessor to understand and evaluate different types of cultural relations and cultural production. “A work of art has meaning and interest only for someone who possesses the cultural competence, that is, knows the code, which encoded an artistic message”, as stated by Bourdieu P. The capital, apart from the economic capital, are formed by cultural capital, social capital, and for any type of capital that is perceived as “natural” form of capital calls this symbolic capital.

C. Education and its relationship to dominant social classes; high, middle, lower.

Social stratification – is differentiation of a certain set of people into classes in a hierarchical rank. It finds expression in the existence of higher and lower layers. Its basis and substance – in the uneven distribution of rights and privileges, responsibilities and obligations, the presence or absence of social values, power and influence among members of a community, as described in Emotional Capital and Education – Theoretical Insights from Bourdieu.

Specific forms of social stratification are very diverse. Sorokin went on to Karl Marx, to determine the position of the individual in society as a function of one variable – the relationship to the means of production: “The specific incarnation of social stratification are plentiful. But all their variety can be summarized in three main forms: economic, political and professional stratification. As a rule, they are all intertwined. People belonging to higher layer in some one respect, usually belong to the same layer and the other parameters, and vice versa”, according to Sorokin. It is important to note that the theory of social stratification of Sorokin is more flexible, and it does not have that degree of validity and general validity, which is inherent in class approach of Marx: the interdependence of the three forms of social stratification is far from perfect, because the different layers of each of these forms not completely coincide with each other. Rather, they coincide with each other, but only partially, that is, to some degree.

Despite the close relationship between forms of stratification, yet there are exceptions. Cases there is no connection between high occupational status and low economic and political are a consequence of the positive impact of high educational potential of the fate of the individual. That is precisely the description of occupational stratification, we find the effect of intelligence for Sorokin on the status of the individual in society, as described by Bourdieu.

In his studies, Bourdieu combines approaches from the domain of many humanities disciplines (anthropology, history, linguistics, political science, philosophy, aesthetics). Feature of his work is a profound disregard for interdisciplinary division, since it imposes restrictions as to the subject of study, and on the methods used. The main task of sociology, Bourdieu sees in identifying the most deeply buried structures of various social environments that make up the social universe, as well as mechanisms that serve as its reproduction and change. At the beginning of the third millennium, when the concept of “scientific-technical revolution” has lost its relevance due to the fact that more than a hundred years the development of technology is constantly happening at an exponential rate, one of the most important factors determining the success of the individual, is his education.

Within the theme of this work, education will be considered as a social elevator, forming the nation’s elite. If the national elite is formed by some other, non-educational mechanisms, this leads to the degradation of the state. Throughout human history, falling into decay of the state where the elite was formed on the basis of origin, degenerated people, or on grounds of wealth, in essence, the state, eventually disintegrated. In modern society, education – is one way to move up the social ladder, as stated in Bourdieu P.

Education has a relationship to dominant social classes: high, middle, lower. High class has an access to any education, as there are many possibilities for those who have considerable costs to spend on education. Middle class and lower class have less possibilities in education, but all the social classes are interconnected, for example at different job positions at work. That is why it is important to ensure that every person gets free and quality education in order to provide success to the future development of the personalities and companies where they work. The effectiveness of education as a social elevator varies from high in the post-industrial countries and virtually zero in traditional societies. In a period of stabilization was evident the problem of shortage of personnel in many professions necessary for the functioning of the state on the basis of a market economy, as stated by Bourdieu.

Considering the origins of the theory of capital Bourdieu, the theory of social structures – is one of the most developed areas in sociology, but until the first half of the twentieth century, this area was not so popular. Thus, contrary to popular belief, relatively low income with the existing reporting system for today higher education is not an obstacle for children of high school diploma. Today, education is not a universal criterion of social identity. “Among those who receive higher education, more than 80% consider it a resource increase of social status, and only one-fifth of this group is not inclined to view education as such. But in another group of a sufficiently large number (41%), they did not see the level of education ways to climb the social ladder. On the other hand, 59% of those who do not receive higher education see the benefits of education, but other factors limit the availability of its receipt.

Here, apparently, is concentrated pool of increasing the share of highly educated members of society. Only half of respondents saw education as a significant resource as compared to other adaptive resources (social networks, family support), as stated in Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture.

Education is an important adaptation resource, which role is increasing in recent years – in the prevailing socio-economic environment, where it is difficult to succeed even with the availability of higher education – if the high level of education supplemented by other highly adaptable resource the chances to achieve high material and status positions sharply rise – higher education is a necessary baseline for building other adaptive resources – demand for higher education is constantly growing, due to the understanding of its role in achieving high rankings – access to higher education is limited not only material, but also other factors, foremost of which are territorial, status, and adaptation. These factors should be considered when designing and implementing state policy in education.


Works cited

Being critical: the practical logic of Bourdieu’s metanoia. 2010. 14 March 2011.
Bourdieu P. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. Richard Nice, Cambridge: Har¬vard University Press; L.: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984.
Bourdieu P. 1986. Forms of Capital // John G. Richardson (ed.), Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education. N. Y.: Greenwood Press, 1986.
Bourdieu P. 1990. Rites of institution // Language and Symbolic Power. Peter Collier, Cambridge: Polity Press; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990.
Bourdieu, P. 1994. Rethinking the State: Genesis and Structure of the Bureaucratic Field. (G. Steinmetz, Ed.) Sociological Theory, 12(1), 1-18. Cornell University Press.
Bourdieu and Initial Teacher Education- a post- structuralist approach. 1996. 14 March 2011. <http://www.jstor.org/pss/1501421>
Bourdieu P. The Scholastic Point of View//Cultural Anthropology. 1990. V. 5. November, pp. 380-391;
Bourdieu, P., & Passeron, J.-C. (1994). Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture (2nd ed.). London: Sage Publications.
Bourdieu and Education for Sustainable Development: analysis of an interview Justin Karol, Monash University. 2010. 14 March 2011. <http://www.aare.edu.au/06pap/kar06523.pdf>
Emotional Capital and Education – Theoretical Insights from Bourdieu. 2007. 14 March 2011.
Jeremy F. 2010. Lane, Pierre Bourdieu: A Critical Introduction. 14 March 2011.
Pierre Bourdieu: a critical introduction. 2000. 14 March 2011. <http://books.google.com/books?id=8JAo–U-JBkC&pg=PA8&lpg=PA8&dq=Bourdieu’s+theoretical+approach+to+Education&source=bl&ots=fiGbOskDO0&sig=agLBDaa0l8at2j1F-QLunb34EfY&hl=en&ei=ejZ-TfWYC4XHswaIuvDhBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CB8Q6AEwATgK#v=onepage&q=Bourdieu’s%20theoretical%20approach%20to%20Education&f=false>
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Social transformation. 2011. 14 March 2011. <http://www.iisd.org/infosoc/social/>
What is sociological theory? 2011. 14 March 2011. <http://www.umsl.edu/~keelr/3210/3210_lectures/what_is_soc_theory.html>