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Pierre Bourdieu on Discourse - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 158
Discourse/Bourdieu/Bohman: BourdieuVsFoucault: [In contrast to Foucault] Bourdieu's challenge is more epistemic, relativizing linguistic activities and practices to a background habitus, a set of dispositions inculcated in socialization. >Discourse/Foucault, >Discourse theory/Bohman.
Bourdieu: the object here is to appeal to 'generative and implicit schemata' rather than
explicit or consciously sanctioned rules. Practices are regular and reproducible patterns of action
'without being the product of rules and without presupposing a conscious aim or the express mastery of them' (Bourdieu, 1977(1): 55). He criticizes ideal theories for their 'linguistic communism', as blind to the forms of status and inequalities that make it possible for speakers to be authoritative and persuasive. The capacity to produce comprehensible utterances 'may be quite inadequate to produce sentences that are likely to be listened to, likely to be recognized as acceptable in all situations in which there is occasion to speak' (Bourdieu, 1991(2):
55).
Normative discourse theories leave out social relations among speakers, their different social
positions and their capacities to garner linguistic authority. Bourdieu thinks that because habitus is not a matter of rules, its limitations are not in principle accessible to speakers at the level of second-order
Gaus I 159
communication, when speakers must offer explicit justification for their actions and practices. Both
challenges see power as operating within discourse itself, not merely as an external constraint upon it.
Bohman: these same sorts of constraints on discourse may also operate in the ways that deeply historically embedded inequalities such as race and gender shape discourse and restrict its reflexivity (Butler, 1993(3): 232).


1. Bourdieu, Pierre (1977) Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
2. Bourdieu, Pierre (1991) Language and Symbolic Power. Cambridge: Polity.
3. Butler, Judith (1993) Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex. London: Routledge.

Bohman, James 2004. „Discourse Theory“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Bourd I
P. Bourdieu
La distinction. Critique sociale du jugement, Paris 1979
German Edition:
Die feinen Unterschiede. Kritik der gesellschaftlichen Urteilskraft Frankfurt/M. 1987

Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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