Thursday, May 7, 2009

Statement of Purpose

This blog is being set up to gather thoughts and present research and opinions as I make my peripatetic way around the field of cultural production. The concept of the field of cultural production is taken from French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu whose work is one of the major influences on me. Bourdieu understands cultural production in the broadest sense, that is, as the apparatus by which, as Raymond Williams puts it, "meanings are produced, circulated, and exchanged." For Bourdieu, this includes the ensemble of social practices comprising science, religion, the law, etc., and more particularly of the specific life practices of peoples, groups, and/or historical periods (i.e., consumer culture, French culture, skateboard culture, Victorian culture, etc.). It also includes what is commonly thought of as "culture with a capital C," that is, the expressive creations and intellectual practices of the arts and philosophy. In fact, much of Bourdieu's work is concerned with this last aspect, which is what drew me to him in the first place. Following Bourdieu, my interest in cultural production is concerned to address culture and its artifacts as objects in and of themselves, in the way they establish relationships between people who come in contact with them, and in what that all says about the societies in which they are produced, distributed, and consumed. Often, as Bourdieu has noted, these things involve relationships of power, what Regis Debray calls the process of "making-believe," i.e., the social, economic, and political constructions of reality within which we live our lives, whether we submit to them consciously or not. Some of the posts will be technical. Sorry about that.