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Language and Symbolic Power
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Language and Symbolic Power

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  646 ratings  ·  12 reviews
This volume brings together Pierre Bourdieu's highly original writings on language and on the relations among language, power, and politics. Bourdieu develops a forceful critique of traditional approaches to language, including the linguistic theories of Saussure and Chomsky and the theory of speech-acts elaborated by Austin and others. He argues that language should be vi ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 15th 1993 by Harvard University Press (first published 1982)
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Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
For years, I admire several post-structuralists especially Pierre Bourdieu for their contribution to the world of critical theories.
Regarding to Bourdieu, what I love the most from him is how he challenges Ferdinand de Saussure and Roland Barthes by connecting the linguistic sphere with the socio arena. Language cannot be separated from the social context as so he says. He then supports Austin's idea on speech acts-an utterance that has performative function in language and communication. .
Apr 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
How can one book change so much the way you think about the world? Read it if you're tired of formal linguistics, if you have any interest in the way that language itself is regulated and becomes a way of reproducing class distinction. Love it.
Stef Rozitis
Not very brainy review for a very brainy book because I am tired and somewhat migrainy tonight but if I get time I will rewrite it better...

I am going to have to reread this because a lot of it went over my head. I need to read it more carefully to see if I agree with a criticism, I have heard from some quarters of everything being seen as "capital" in a "market" (I think these terms are used more as a metaphor than seen as actually equivalent and that Bourdieu would be the first to admit his im
Feb 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Language & symbolic power puts Bourdieu's system of analysis to look into, well, language and politics. The first part, dealing with language, I found much more related to my interests, and thus paid much more attention.

Bourdieu criticizes the theorists of linguistics because they do not look at something essential: that language is used in the social setting. By looking only at language itself, they miss completely how language is used and how it is true or powerful based on who (and how)
Pier-andré Doyon
Sep 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thèse très intéressante qui vient fragiliser l'idée d'une langue complètement autonome pour soumettre celle-ci à différentes déterminations sociales.
Yousef Nabil
الحقيقة إن تقريبًا أغلب الكتابات الفلسفية الحديثة إطارها مادي بشكل مفزع، وده بيؤدي لمغالطات غريبة بالرغم من عمق تحليل كثير من الظواهر. الكتاب هنا مثلا بيعتبر ان التربية في المطلق عبارة عن عنف، لأنك بتفرض أفكار معينة على الطفل( ده بشكل مبسط يعني) وان مفيش حاجة اسمها تربية ليبرالية، ولا حاجة اسمها ان يكون في شكل من اشكال التربية بلا عنف، الأشكال بس بتتغير، فحتى الرقة واللين والدلع كلها أشكال من فرض السلطة على الطفل او المتعلم بشكل عام.

ولأن الفلسفة هنا إطارها مادي تمامًا فهي بتتجاهل تمامًا دور الفر
Michael Mena
Jun 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Overall, this book hit home far less than other Bourdieu books. However, when it did, it really did! I would recommend this book for someone who already has at the very least an intermediate grasp of Bourdieu as well as an interest in language, discourse, and perhaps even politics. Includes some excellent chapters on symbolic domination/power/violence and also the most explicit explanation of Bourdieu's 'market' analogy that I've seen so far.
Joy Sterrantino
Feb 19, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommended to Joy by: Dr. Kevin Gustafson
Okay, so I've only read parts of it so far, but it gives a great theoretical framework for understanding language as power. I used this book a ton in a paper I wrote about the power struggle between Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley at the Kenilworth Entertainments.
Jul 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
After seven or eight reads, I am sure most people understand it. Then they get angry with Bourdieu for his Gallic ways.
Roberta Kang
Jan 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Difficult and dense but totally worth it. A nice outline of many of Bourdieu's theories with some thought provoking explanations.
Jason Williams
Apr 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
It's all about the habitus, baby!
Oct 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: broad-scope
Bourdieu's best, in my humble opinion. Read "Social Space and the Genesis of Classes" above all else.
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Bourdieu pioneered investigative frameworks and terminologies such as cultural, social, and symbolic capital, and the concepts of habitus, field or location, and symbolic violence to reveal the dynamics of power relations in social life. His work emphasized the role of practice and embodiment or forms in social dynamics and worldview construction, often in opposition to universalized Western philo ...more
“The entire destiny of modern linguistics is in fact determined by Saussure's inaugural act through which he separates the ‘external’ elements of linguistics from the ‘internal’ elements, and, by reserving the title of linguistics for the latter, excludes from it all the investigations which establish a relationship between language and anthropology, the political history of those who speak it, or even the geography of the domain where it is spoken, because all of these things add nothing to a knowledge of language taken in itself. Given that it sprang from the autonomy attributed to language in relation to its social conditions of production, reproduction and use, structural linguistics could not become the dominant social science without exercising an ideological effect, by bestowing the appearance of scientificity on the naturalization of the products of history, that is, on symbolic objects.” 3 likes
“The field as a whole is defined as a system of deviations on different levels and nothing, either in the institutions or in the agents, the acts or discourses they produce, has meaning except relationally, by virtue of the interplay of oppositions and distinctions.” 2 likes
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