Review Essay: Camus and Bourdieu on Algeria

Pierre Bourdieu brilliantly illuminates this situation of the middle class in the modern world.

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[6] Axel Honneth, Hermann Kocyba, and Bernd Schwibs, “The Struggle for Symbolic Order: An interview with Pierre Bourdieu,” in Theory, Culture & Society 3, no. 3 (November 1986), 38, also cited in Algerian Sketches, 17.

essay review pierre cultural capital on bourdieu Volume 21(4) published on 6 Dec 2016.

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Algerian Sketches presents a collection of essays, letters, and occasional pieces Bourdieu wrote beginning in the 1950s concerning his attempt to grapple with Algerian experiences of colonialism and anti-colonial revolution. David Fernbach has translated each entry and the essays’ original notes are supplemented with helpful editorial annotations from the volume’s editor, Tassadit Yacine, herself a specialist in Algerian sociology. An introductory essay also places the content of the collection in the context of both decolonizing France and the intellectual climate in which Bourdieu came of age.

the controversy surrounding the book  boosted Bourdieu's already considerable cultural capital.

Much of Bourdieu’s analyses of Algeria are just that: technical writings on complex topics with many moving parts. The first three essays were written from 1959-1963 as efforts to influence French policy decisions more than they were impassioned pleas to sway public opinion. Already we see Bourdieu attempting to think through Algerian society from within. Whereas previous commentators saw the economic plight of Algeria as caused by its maladaption to western economies, Bourdieu highlighted the need to jettison the west as the automatic marker of economic normalcy. Colonialism tried to impose a western economy on Algeria but was never able to get Algerians to think like western economic agents. As a result, analysts had to think differently about Algeria, provide “what non-Euclidean geometries are to Euclidean geometry”. [7]

On Pierre Bourdieu Cultural Capital and Citizenship: Understanding Moral Evaluations in Public Debates Tuomas Ylä-Anttila and Eeva Luhtakallio.