Bourdieu and meaning

From: Ryan, Angela (
Date: Wed May 16 2001 - 14:31:34 BST

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    Subject: Bourdieu and meaning
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    <May I throw in Bourdieu's idea:
    > "Dès qu'on traite le langage comme un objet autonome,
    [...] on se condamne > à > chercher le pouvoir des mots dans les mots,
    c'est-à-dire là où il n'est > pas: > [...]. Ce n'est que par exception [...]
    que les échanges symboliques se > réduisent à des rapports de pure
    communication et que le contenu > informatif > du message épuise le contenu
    de la communication. Le pouvoir des paroles > n'est autre chose que le
    pouvoir délégué du porte-parole: et ses paroles > [...] sont tout au plus un
    témoignage ... de la garantie de délégation > dont > il est investi. [...]
    l'autorité advient au langage du dehors...
    > [Pierre Bourdieu, Ce Que Parler veut dire, p 103-5]
    > > I shan't insult you by translating! I find my students
    find Bourdieu less > clear in translation to English, than in the French,
    perhaps that is > generally true.>>
    Only for those who speak French....

    OK I'll try to transliterate (with apologies, because I think Bourdieu
    changes meaning when translated):
    "If we treat language as an autonomous object, [...] we condemn ourselves to
    finding the power of words in the words, that is, where it is not [...] Only
    exceptionally does symbolic exchange [symbol-exchange] consist solely of a
    purely communicative interrelation, or the informative content of the
    message co-equal the whole content of the communication. The power of words
    is none other than the power delegated to the speaker: and his/her words
    [..] are at most an evidence [witness statement] ... of the delegation
    warranty he/she bears. [...] authority invests language from outside [it]"
            Bourdieu's book is very well translated into English, by the way, as
    Language and Symbolic Power (ed J Thompson). I feel that the difference
    between French and Anglophone philosophical mindsets, and the nature of
    philosophy, does mean an inevitable shift in meanings.
    As for the American Declaration: it does indeed, paradoxically, state a
    belief which the locators did not implement, which was not so and still is
    not; this is an example of Bourdieu's point, whereby the belief invested in
    that beautiful assertion makes it true, and being so accepted, it becomes
    the basis by which later generations may have worked and may work upon its
    becoming (if incompletely) the case.

    Yours sincerely

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