• Pierre Bourdieu’s conception of symbolic domination and the controversy between modernism and postmodernism in architecture

    Marianna Charitonidou (see profile)
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    This paper aims to explain why Pierre Bourdieu’s “Le marché des biens symboliques” is useful for deconstructing the solidity of the various architects’ positions in relation to their ideological, political, aesthetic, marketing, and academic ambitions. To grasp how symbolic domination affects their ambitions, it suffices to bring to mind Bourdieu’s remark that “[s]ymbolic domination . . . is something you absorb like air, something you don’t feel pressured by; it is everywhere and nowhere, and to escape from that it is very difficult” (Bourdieu cited in Grenfell 2014, p. 192). In “Le marché des biens symboliques”, Bourdieu highlights that “[t]he field of production and circulation of symbolic goods is defined as the system of objective relations between different instances characterized by the function they fulfill in the division of labor of production, reproduction and distribution of symbolic goods” (Bourdieu 1971, p. 54). The paper will place particular emphasis on the reasons for which Bourdieu’s reflections, in “Le marché des biens symboliques”, are pivotal for grasping how the understanding of the controversy between modernism and postmodernism in architecture was conceived by the architects and architecture critics, theorists, and historians  “are mediated by the structure of the field” and “depend on the position occupied by the category in question within the hierarchy of cultural legitimacy” (Bourdieu 1984, p. 24) Bourdieu also argues that “[a]ll relations among agents and institutions of diffusion or consecration are mediated by the field’s structure” (Bourdieu 1984, p. 25), drawing a distinction between subjective and social representation. Another distinction that is at the centre of Bourdieu’s thought is that between the “field of restricted production” and the “field of large-scale cultural production” (Bourdieu 1984, p. 17).
    paper presented at the international conference “Bourdieu, Work and Inequalities”, 16-18 November 2022
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    Conference proceeding    
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    12 months ago


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