Two basic concepts in Bourdieu’s sociology are symbolic capital and habitus. Explain their meaning and discuss how they are related. Give examples of how they evolved in Bourdieu’s work (example: from symbolic capital to cultural to field-specific capital) and of how they are applied. Approx. 600-900 words.
With the discovery of correspondence analysis, Bourdieu found a method for quantitative analysis that corresponded to his relational sociological thinking. Explain the nature of this relational thinking and give three examples of how it is applied in three different studies, starting from Les héritiers (The Inheritors). Approx. 300-600 words.
A key opposition in social sciences is the one between what is normally called an objectivistic stand, according to which the social world exists independently of the mind, and a subjectivist position claiming that the social word to a large extent or entirely is constructed by the mind. Discuss Bourdieu’s position with regard to this opposition and give examples from his empirical studies of how he tries to transcend it. Part of what you write on this topic should make reference to Méditations pascaliennes (Pascalian Meditations). Approx. 600-900 words.
In Médiations pascaliennes (Pascalian Meditations), a key topic is what Bourdieu calls “scholastic thought”. What does Bourdieu mean by this expression? Explain and give examples from Bourdieu’s writings. Address the question of how Bourdieu sees the conditions for surpassing the limitations of scholastic thinking. Approx. 300-600 words.
The third major concept in Bourdieu’s work, social field, is the key analytic tool in Homo academicus. The concept is further discussed in Méditations pascaliennes (Pascalian Meditations). In La noblesse d’état (State Nobility) it is used for analyzing the relations between, on the one hand, the field of elite education and, on the other hand, what Bourdieu calls the field of power.
Explain how other key Bourdieusian concepts, such as illusio, doxa, habitus, nomos, libido, are related to the field concept. In addition to paraphrasing Bourdieu’s examples, feel free to offer your own. Approx. 300-600 words.
Explain how elite education relates to the struggles between fractions of the dominating class, to social fields, to the field of power and to the State, according to Bourdieu’s analysis in The State Nobility. Approx. 600-900 words.
An important topic in Bourdieus’s sociology is reproduction strategies. In La noblesse d’Etat (The State Nobility) he discusses the family mode of reproduction as opposed to the educational mode of reproduction. Explain. Approx. 200-400 words.
Bourdieu insists on always analyzing the conditions for how people act or think and his analyses typically unveil patterns or structures of conditioning factors. A common criticism of his work is that he over-emphasizes reproduction. Reason about how social change can be understood within Bourdieu’s conceptual framework and give at least two examples of how he addresses change. Approx. 300-600 words.
Taking Bourdieu’s sociology of education as point of departure, discuss either
elite education in your own or another country of choice,
the relation between the education system and particular social fields in your own country, another country or at a global, transnational level. Your discussions should not be entirely abstract, i.e. try to include a reference to actual phenomena and developments. Do what you can to underpin these references with sources, for example from journals or other sources, often available on the web. However, the emphasis is on how you reason, not on to what extent your discussion is emirically accurate
a particular issue related to the education system that you have interest in.
Approx. 600-900 words.
Formulate a topic related to education that you believe could meaningfully be studied using Bourdieusian sociology. Make sure this is a valid research question, i.e. that it is not normative, but a genuine question. Provide a context for the question you choose (not too long). If necessary, break down this research question into a few, more specified (narrow) questions. Explain why and how Bourdieu’s sociology is relevant for addressing these questions. Then, make a research design for a study addressing these questions in which Bourdieusian concepts and methods are applied. Reason about the data you would need to collect for the study and, if possible, make use of empirical data that you already have or easily can access. When you introduce Bourdieusian concepts, explain them and give examples of how they are used by Bourdieu in the various studies we have read and discussed. Then, make clear why they are relevant in the empirical study that you design.
Alternatively, if you believe that you can apply Bourdieusian sociology to a particular topic (i.e. a research question) that you meaningfully can address using secondary data from various sources, then write an essay addressing this topic. Be careful with page references to Bourdieu’s work and to sources that you may use for the data that you analyze. When you introduce Bourdieusian concepts in your exploration of your topic, explain them and make relevant references to the course literature.
Write at least 4500 but not more than 7000 words.
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