Not This Spotlight, Please!

Yet, one cannot but wonder whether incessant complaints about Bourdieu’s style and terminology are not a symptom of a deeper and different problem, since other “difficult” writers—Habermas, Foucault, or even Weber come to mind—do not elicit the same level of protestation as the author of Distinction. Could it be that, instead of a concern with form itself, these criticisms express anxiety at the social gaze that this form conveys? Could the onerousness of reading Bourdieu stem from our uneasiness at seeing our social selves stripped bare, from a vital reluctance to embrace a mode of analysis that makes us squirm as it throws us “back in the game” and cuts through the mist of our enchanted relations to the social world, and in particular to our own condition as intellectuals—that is, bearers of cultural capital and thus wielders of a dominated form of domination that scarcely wants to recognize itself as such?  [247]


Loic J.D. Wacquant, “Bourdieu in America: Notes on the Transatlantic Importation of Social Theory” in Craig Calhoun et al., ed. Bourdieu: Critical Perspectives (University of Chicago Press, 1993).

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