Pierre Bourdieu

1930 - 2002

French sociologist
Bio on Wikipedia

Cited in Marsh 2006 as a lens through which to view teacher enactment of curriculum
Cited in Kamberelis 1999 as part of theoretical frame used in a study of genre
Cited in Wollman-Bonilla 2000 (Bourdieu & Passeron, 1977) in theoretical frame talking about hegemonic discourse and access to cultural capital

Key concepts from Bourdieu:

structure vs. agency - Bourdieu believed that structures, such as a school curriculum, impose the sociocultural values of one unfairly advantaged group over all other groups in a society and that individuals within such a system can comply (passively or actively) or resist the reconstruction of the dominant value system. Individual agency is the ability of individuals to comply or resist structure.

habitus - an individual is enculturated to

field - a system in which different groups compete for control. Education is a field. A field has an established order and discourse.

capital - the cultural, social, symbolic, or economic resources of individuals within the system

practice - routine, patterned behaviors within a field

doxa - when habitus is perfectly attuned to the values of a field

We cite Bourdieu in our AERA 2008 Methods paper as follows:

Inherent difficulties lie in the tensions between in-school and out-of-school literacies, which can be defined in terms of Bourdieu’s (1984) discussions of discrepancies between popular and bourgeois aesthetics. Popular aesthetics, he argues, involve, “a deep-rooted demand for participation…the desire to enter into the game, identifying with the character’s joys and sufferings, worrying about their fate, espousing their hopes and ideals, living their life” (p. 33). Bourgeois aesthetics, on the other hand, promote a dispassionate view of culture—one in which ideologies, texts, and values encourage “disinvestment, detachment, indifference” (p. 34) in addition to endorsing the culturally acceptable. An example of the bourgeois aesthetic can be found in current classrooms in which students are required to over analyze poetry according to predetermined structures in search of overly determined meanings. In these instances, any personal response or emotional connection is displaced with interpretation that promotes disinvestment, detachment, and indifference.
Jenkins (2007) critiques Bourdieu for what he views as a shallow understanding of popular culture, explaining, “Bourdieu is at his best a critic of the bourgeois aesthetic, stripping aside its claims to neutrality in order to demonstrate how it is bound up with class privilege.” (p. 15). In Jenkins’ view, Bourdieu is presumably less adept at understanding popular culture. Bourdieu, Jenkins argues, “falls back on the old idea that less learning and skill are needed to consume [popular culture]” (p. 15-16). Alternatively, Jenkins argues that popular culture literacies actually involve deep learning and skill development; however, “popular culture depends on skills we acquire outside formal education… the skills needed to make sense of popular texts emerge through informal education practices as we spend time consuming media with friends and families” (p. 16). Simultaneously, these socially grounded consumptions are real and important media literacy skills. “[T]hose who lack such skills—and this would include any number of so-called intellectuals who tend to look down their noses at popular culture—misread television every bit as badly as a country bumpkin might who finds himself trying to make sense of modern dance” (Jenkins, 2007, p. 16). If this is the case, are the new country bumpkins classroom teachers who follow “intellectuals” into eschewing popular culture texts? And, conversely, when teachers choose to use popular culture texts, how do they respond to parents, and society at large, who expect school to look like “school”? Despite findings about the positive effects of bringing children’s cultural knowledge and desires into the classroom, some educators guard the content of classroom experiences with the canon of bourgeois texts.