Monday, May 12, 2008

Prior, Nick. "Pithy, Polemical and Paradoxical." TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION May 8, 2008.

Bourdieu, Pierre. Political Interventions: Social Science and Political Action. London: Verso, 2008. A leading figure in the radical movements that swept France in the late 1990s, Bourdieu had become synonymous with critical opposition to the vagaries of an increasingly naturalised neoliberal agenda. He would no doubt have balked at the perverse (but predictable) decision to place eulogies from Lionel Jospin and Jacques Chirac alongside pictures of the megaphoned sociologist demonstrating before his occupation of the Ecole Normale Supérieure in 1998. He was no fan of the media, famously dedicating a whole book, On Television, to an analysis of the unconditional submission of television and journalism to unfettered market pressures. He was, in any case, much more than his public effigy permitted, not least one of the most formidable thinkers of the condition of modernity, its institutions, ideas and experiences. Engaged rather than enraged (curiously, the events of May 1968 seemed to bypass him somewhat), Bourdieu's political interventions span 40 years and are the subject of this fascinating collection of documents. The book is an English translation of Interventions 1961-2001, published in France in 2002. Ordered chronologically and thematically, it spans Bourdieu's early assessments of the Algerian experience during the ruptures of independence through to his damning critique of global economic imperialism. Middle sections document Bourdieu's critique of the education system, his role as adviser to state-ordained reports on pedagogy, diatribes against the collapse of the social welfare state and his vision of the collective European intellectual. All this is punctuated with regular commentary on tumultuous political events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall and the war in Kosovo, as well as pithy miscellanea, such as his feelings for Jean-Paul Sartre, against whose ideology of the free intellectual Bourdieu set himself. Most deep-thinking scholars are considerably more accessible in informal academic addresses, such as lectures and interviews, and this is certainly the case with Bourdieu, whose monographs can be dense and difficult to grasp. . . . Read the rest here:

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