Re: [xmca] homo academicus

From: Jay Lemke <jaylemke who-is-at umich.edu>
Date: Thu Oct 25 2007 - 08:45:21 PDT

To the two Michaels -- yes, I suppose that in
principle we get a dialectical two-way influence,
but it seems harder to see how the other way
works. Given a social and academic position, a
standing, prestige, academic "social class",
etc., we will be more likely to espouse certain
theoretical positions. But this is a compound
effect, it arises also from our wider social
standing and economic positions, not just our
academic prestige, though these are linked by
salary and economic opportunities in the usual
sorts of connections of financial, social, and cultural capital.

Going the other way around, I suppose we could
say that if you espouse certain theories, then in
a given academic field, you are more likely to
get promoted, invited to conferences, given
grants, etc., and this could also explain why
someone prefers these theories, methods, research
problems, etc. But this is at a rather micro
level. All these feedback routes seem to lead us
toward reproductionist models that would tend
toward longterm stabilization, they would tend to
freeze in the dominant perspectives.

But that does not happen on the next longer
timescale (a bit above that of the individual
academic biography, say a scale of 30-50 years)
where we get turnover in the dominant theories,
due to the "fashion" effect Bourdieu identifies:
there is a premium of distinction placed on
creativity, originality, novelty in our field.

The pessimistic interpretation would be that the
superficial forms of dominant theories change,
but they remain within an envelope of "safe"
theories from the point of view of dominant
interests in the dominant field (economic power
field). A more optimistic view would be that
academics are somewhat less strongly coupled than
those in many other fields (more so than artists,
less so than lawyers, say) to dominant interests,
and so we _can_ produce critical theories and
still rise in the field (as has happened,
sometimes, in the UK, in France, less so in the US).

It seems tricky to me to maintain a close
dialectic of field and habitus when fields are
more subdivided (specialized) and may be more
strongly of more weakly coupled to one another
(it's hardly a distinct field if it's not at
least somewhat autonomous in its valuations and
practices), whereas habitus is defined
longitudinally for individuals and so inherently
crosses boundaries between fields. There should,
accordingly, be correlations between preferences
for the same individual (or individuals of the
same class fraction) between what they do in one
field and in another field in the course of their
lives. Habitus is not specific to any one field,
and so not in dialectical relation with any field as such.

To get a productive dialectic, you have to look
at what happens across fields: the potential ways
in which valuations in one field start to
interfere with those in another field as
individuals move across fields. The habitus in
not quite stable, but why? because of unique
experiences that deviate from the typical life
patterns of some one social class division ...
and how can such phenomena influence a field?
only insofar as the deviations get multiplied,
and the disturbances amplified ... as for example
we hope happens when many more women, or working
class kids, go to college, or become academics.

But my point is that it is the whole of the
habitus, not just the part that is normally
active in a given field (say the academy) that is
relevant for the change-pushing influence of
habitus on a field. In other terms, it is not
just positionality _within_ a field, but the
complex of tensions and contradictions in
positionalities _across_ fields that is most
likely to introduce change within some field.

No?

JAY.

At 06:36 PM 10/24/2007, you wrote:
>Hi Jay,
>I always thought of the relation between habitus and field as
>dialectical and thus not deterministic. I think this is the position
>Sewell takes (1992, AJS) when he elaborates his structure|agency
>dialectic, which was designed to deal with shortcomings in the
>Bourdieu and Giddens' frameworks.
>Cheers,
>Michael
>
>
>On 24-Oct-07, at 2:02 PM, Jay Lemke wrote:
>
>
>In some ways the social habitus is a prison, but of course it is also
>a resource. It allows us to do some things, and perhaps do them as
>"second nature", but then it also limits what we are likely to do and
>we tend to do it. The habitus for ideas and values lets us live
>together and cooperate, but it may also limit our imaginations for
>alternatives. It leads us to accept many things that perhaps we
>should not accept, or to not even see them, but it also then lets us
>get on with other business.
>
>We do not often enough examine our political positions within the
>academic field and how our positions there set up relationships also
>outside the field. Bourdieu became quite unpopular with many of his
>academic colleagues in France for making such a public examination in
>his published work.
>
>The price of a truly reflexive sociology?
>
>JAY.
>
>At 12:01 AM 10/23/2007, you wrote:
>>I think so. The inquisitorial accusations against one of the earlier
>>metioned "real heroes", Giordano Bruno, never mentioned his defense of
>>Copernican heliocentrism, but focused on his theological writings. The
>>animistic occultist Bruno didn‚€™t die a martyr for the cause of
>>modern science.
>>Of course, Francis Bacon was also interested in magic and
>>milenarianism; Tycho
>>Brahe's vast collection of observations was made primarily for
>>astrological
>>purposes, Kepler believed that the universe was constructed around
>>geometrical
>>forms and musical harmonies, fellows of the Royal Society defended the
>>existence of witches and Newton was a devoted alchemist.
>>
>>Bourdieu, earlier mentioned by Paul D., referred to "the universe
>>of prejudice,
>>repression, and omission that everyday successful education makes
>>you accept,
>>and makes you remain unaware of, tracing out that magic circle of
>>powerless
>>complacency in which the elite schools imprison their
>>elect" (Bourdieu quoted
>>in Reed-Danahay, Deborah. Locating Bourdieu. Bloomington, IN: Indiana
>>University Press, 2004:51).
>>
>>Bourdieu echoed the Durkheimian sense of "mechanical solidarity" in
>>traditional
>>society, in that a shared body of knowledge, including ways of
>>moving, slang,
>>and jokes, was transmitted as a secondary habitus. He termed this
>>community
>>a "magical prison" of which the teachers were "ostensibly the
>>guards", even
>>though they were themselves prisoners/products of this same system.
>>The
>>teachers exert their influence through the "charisma of office"
>>and "consecrate" the students by awarding prizes, titles, and
>>certificates."
>>
>>In Homo Academicus, he wrote that "it is not, as is usually
>>thought, political
>>stances that separate people‚€™s stances on things academic, but
>>their positions
>>in the academic field which inform the stances that they adopt on
>>political
>>issues in general as well as on academic problems."
>>
>>E.
>>
>>On 2007-10-23, at 05:40, Jay Lemke wrote:
>> >
>> > "Unscientific" viewpoints will necessarily play a
>> > role in whatever cultural advances humanity
>> > manages in the future to move beyond science,
>> > just as "un-religious" viewpoints were in the
>> > development of what passes today for (sometimes) more enlightened
>>thought..
>> >
>> > No?
>> >
>> > JAY.
>> >
>> > At 08:03 PM 10/22/2007, you wrote:
>> >>David P,
>> >>
>> >>It remains diffuse to me what you mean by "doing science." The
>>Steve Connor
>> >>comment says a lot of things (as already mentioned: representing
>>a more
>> >>balanced view). The issue here (as far as I am
>> >>concerned) is not to decide "who
>> >>is right" (that would be outside the scope of my
>> >>competence, anyway) but rather
>> >>to emphasize the scholarly legitimacy or value of conflicting
>>views, of
>> >>multivocal/polyphonic (or, perhaps, cacophonic) discourses. The
>>papers you
>> >>referred to earlier, seem to me to represent that kind of
>>"cacophony."
>> >>
>> >>Eirik.
>> >>
>> >>On 2007-10-22, at 22:08, David Preiss wrote:
>> >> > Eirik,
>> >> >
>> >> > The Steve Connor comment you send us (second link below) tells
>> >> > exactly why JW was not doing science at all. Particularly, why
>>you
>> >> > can't infer from an heritability ratio a conclusion about the
>> >> > intelligence of people that works with you (as Watson say). On
>>the
>> >> > other hand, something can be statistically heritable and not
>>genetic
>> >> > at all. A nice explanation is in the Sternberg, Grigorenko and
>>Kidd
>> >> > paper I sent before.
>> >> > David
>> >> >
>> >> >
>> >> > David
>> >> >
>> >> > On Oct 22, 2007, at 3:16 PM, E. Knutsson wrote:
>> >> >
>> >> >> Amanda,
>> >> >>
>> >> >> JW's comment (http://comment.independent.co.uk/commentators/
>> > >> >> article3075642.ece)
>> >> >> concludes with this request: "[W]e as scientists, wherever we
>>wish
>> >> >> to place
>> >> >> ourselves in this great debate, should take care in claiming
>>what are
>> >> >> unarguable truths without the support of evidence."
>> >> >>
>> >> >> Some of the other comments also seem to give a more balanced
>>view:
>> >> >>
>> >> >> http://comment.independent.co.uk/commentators/article3070538.ece
>> >> >>
>> >> >> http://comment.independent.co.uk/leading_articles/ article3075640.ece
>> >> >>
>> >> >> "Curtailing free debate is almost always a mistake. Allowing
>> >> >> scientists and
>> >> >> individuals to air their theories openly does not validate
>>them. On
>> >> >> the
>> >> >> contrary it allows them to be refuted."
>> >> >>
>> >> >> Eirik.
>> >> >>
>> >> >>
>> >> >>
>> >> >> On 2007-10-21, at 01:26, Amanda Brovold wrote:
>> >> >>> Just for the record, it sounds to me as if Watson has
>>suggested he
>> >> >>> may have
>> >> >>> been misquoted. In the article linked to 3 messages below he
>> >> >>> says: "I can
>> >> >>> understand much of this reaction. For if I said what I was
>>quoted as
>> >> >>> saying, then I can only admit that I am bewildered by it. To
>> >> >>> those who have
>> >> >>> drawn the inference from my words that Africa, as a
>>continent, is
>> >> >>> somehow
>> >> >>> genetically inferior, I can only apologise unreservedly.
>>This is
>> >> >>> not what I
>> >> >>> meant. More importantly from my point of view, there is no
>> >> >>> scientific basis
>> >> >>> for such a belief." I am not sure why the first two
>>sentences of
>> >> >>> this quote
>> >> >>> are generally left off when it is repeated. Such common
>> >> >>> occurrences though
>> >> >>> (even on this very list) lead me to believe it is plausible
>>that
>> >> >>> what Watson
>> >> >>> said my not have been as appalling as what has been passed
>>around
>> >> >>> makes it
>> >> >>> seem. I agree that it seems certain he has a view I very much
>> >> >>> disagree with
>> >> >>> and seems to be contradicted by the preponderance of evidence.
>> >> >>> However, I
>> >> >>> find un-thoughtful knee-jerk responses to such views to be at
>> >> >>> least as
>> >> >>> dangerous as the views themselves. I have heard people stress
>> >> >>> that it is
>> >> >>> important for academics to respond appropriately to events
>>such as
>> >> >>> these. I
>> >> >>> very much agree, it is important for experts in the relevant
>> >> >>> fields to
>> >> >>> correct any misunderstandings that stories like this are
>>likely to
>> >> >>> perpetuate. It is also extremely important though for the
>>academy to
>> >> >>> remember that academic freedom is absolutely vital. As
>>appalling
>> >> >>> as views
>> >> >>> expressed by one academic may be, the expression of
>>controversial
>> >> >>> view
>> >> >>> points simply cannot be allowed to threaten the protections
>> >> >>> necessary for
>> >> >>> inquiry to be carried out.
>> >> >>>
>> >> >>> Something else to consider, phrased a different way, I feel
>> >> >>> confident that
>> >> >>> many people outraged by Watson's remarks would agree that in
>>fact
>> >> >>> there are
>> >> >>> differences in the intelligences of different people, often
>> >> >>> correlated with
>> >> >>> differences in culture. These are not differences in terms
>>of one
>> >> >>> being
>> >> >>> overall superior to another, but I do not think that reading is
>> >> >>> forced by
>> >> >>> the words that have been quoted without context, even if
>>they are
>> >> >>> accurate.
>> >> >>> It is at least possible that Watson, as he now seems to claim,
>> >> >>> really meant
>> >> >>> to refer to differences without evaluating them. And isn't the
>> >> >>> recognition
>> >> >>> of the complexity of intelligence one of the things that makes
>> >> >>> many of the
>> >> >>> outraged so upset about IQ testing?
>> >> >>>
>> >> >>> -Amanda
>> >> >>>
>> >> >> _______________________________________________
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>> >> >
>> >> > David Preiss, Ph.D.
>> >> > Subdirector de Extensión y Comunicaciones
>> >> > Escuela de Psicolog√ a
>> >> > Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile
>> >> > Av Vicu√Īa Mackenna 4860
>> >> > Macul, Santiago
>> >> > Chile
>> >> >
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>> >> > Fax: 3544844
>> >> > e-mail: davidpreiss@uc.cl
>> >> > web personal: http://web.mac.com/ddpreiss/
>> >> > web institucional: http://www.epuc.cl/profesores/dpreiss
>> >> >
>> >> >
>> >> > _______________________________________________
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>> >
>> > Jay Lemke
>> > Professor
>> > University of Michigan
>> > School of Education
>> > 610 East University
>> > Ann Arbor, MI 48109
>> >
>> > Tel. 734-763-9276
>> > Email. JayLemke@UMich.edu
>> > Website. <http://www.umich.edu/~jaylemke%A0>www.umich.edu/~jaylemke
>> > _______________________________________________
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>
>Jay Lemke
>Professor
>University of Michigan
>School of Education
>610 East University
>Ann Arbor, MI 48109
>
>Tel. 734-763-9276
>Email. JayLemke@UMich.edu
>Website. <http://www.umich.edu/~jaylemke%A0>www.umich.edu/~jaylemke
>_______________________________________________
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Jay Lemke
Professor
University of Michigan
School of Education
610 East University
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Tel. 734-763-9276
Email. JayLemke@UMich.edu
Website. <http://www.umich.edu/~jaylemke%A0>www.umich.edu/~jaylemke
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Received on Thu Oct 25 08:48 PDT 2007

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