Apply Bourdieus Work On Fields Sociology Essay Example
Apply Bourdieus Work On Fields Sociology Essay Example

Apply Bourdieus Work On Fields Sociology Essay Example

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  • Pages: 9 (2253 words)
  • Published: August 29, 2017
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The study of cultural artifact has become increasingly significant within the sociology field due to the growing interest of sociologists in fashion. Cultural artifact refers to the influence that our subconscious responses and attitudes towards society have on us. Fashion is an essential resource that reflects the current society or era, while individuals shape and develop their personal facets of identity. Crane's 2000 study on fashion and social roles highlights the fascination with interpreting the purpose behind a specific form of culture through clothing. Appearance is a powerful manifestation that holds immense significance. Fashion or style indicates one's social position and gender, which can either uphold or break the symbolic boundaries established in society. Bourdieu contends that society maintains its distance from other categories through taste, which is determined and sustained by the dominant sym


bolic hierarchy. Therefore, taste becomes the "social ammo" that defines and restricts cultural objects, separating legitimate from illegitimate forms of culture such as high fashion from mass fashion (Bourdieu, 1995).The main focus of this essay is to explain Bourdieu's theory of consumer taste in fashion, which involves the strategic application of style. Finkelstein (1998:80) highlights that "style is a form of knowledge based on limited access to goods and services", and that an actor's ability to recognize stylish trends reflects their cultural capital. The work of Entwistle and Rocamora, in their study of London Fashion Week titled "The Field of Fashion Materialized", has aided in clarifying Bourdieu's key concepts of field, capital, and habitus, in deepening our understanding of our consumer preferences in fashion. This essay seeks to clearly define the concepts of field, habitus, and capital, and how they ar

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utilized to comprehend social phenomena specific to fashion. Bourdieu's theory is continuously concerned with the cultural reproduction or cultural capital. His forms of capital have effectively bridged Marxist's class differentiation with Weber's cultural perspective into his theory. Bourdieu has acknowledged that within the competitive society, forms of capital are classified as tools for different activities.According to Bourdieu (1986), a significant concept is the notion of 'capital', which goes beyond material possessions and includes societal, cultural, and symbolic forms. This emphasis from material to non-material types of capital contributes to the concealment of inequalities in society. Bourdieu asserts that there are three crucial mechanisms in the reproduction of capital, where economic capital serves as the foundation for structural class and provides cultural and social capital to convert into economic capital. Cultural capital plays a crucial role in social power relations by providing a way for non-economic dominance and hierarchy, as classes differentiate themselves through taste (Gaventa, 2003). Bourdieu's awareness of capital emphasizes the ability to differentiate non-economic capital from purely economic capital in the reproduction mechanism of social class; these forms of capital hold equal significance and can be accumulated and transferred across different domains (Navarro, 2006).Bourdieu emphasizes the combination of cultural and societal capital, without distinguishing them. Both types of capital are heavily used as mechanisms of production for societal justice. However, there are challenges for those attempting to raise their class through these capitals, as obtaining them requires long-term investment. Unlike economic capital, cultural/societal capital is difficult to measure and for societal members to recognize their role in social production. Possession of cultural/societal capital is related to one's ability to produce recreation in the

societal position and express cultural preferences, which is linked to Bourdieu's idea of societal capitalism. Fashion, as a cultural subject, is focused on as a badge of identity. The relationship between class and fashion can be divided into two opinions: correspondence status and disagreement in terms of clothing preferences and how they symbolize class status.Regarding Bourdieu's concept of capital, two theories highlight the relationship between class and fashion. One theory focuses on the correlation between economic capital and fashion, while the other emphasizes the connection between cultural capital and fashion. These opposing views consider other features beyond class that influence fashion. Simmel's trickle-down theory supports the idea of linking economic capital to class and fashion. Simmel saw fashion as a product where economic capital serves as the foundation for structural class. Simmel identified "Paris fashion" as a dynamic interclass imitation and desire. As lower classes try to mimic upper classes, the latter seek new fashion to differentiate themselves. Therefore, according to Simmel, fashion is considered ephemeral, but the flow of communication from top to bottom is constant. However, after World War I, functional off-the-rack products emerged, and the flow of influence changed from top to bottom, marking a new movement in Western fashion history.Veblen’s theory of ‘conspicuous consumption’ aligns with the detailed consumption in fashion, which is idealized through the display of an individual’s economic capital. In his work ‘The Theory of the Leisure Class’ (1899-1983), Veblen introduces ‘conspicuous consumption’ as a response to the notion of America’s capital concept of extravagance. Veblen argues that one’s reputation is represented by ownership and conspicuousness, which inspires jealousy and signifies the level of wealth within the group.

Additionally, the typical variations are established in the upper class, for example, one’s indulging in spending inconvenient production time, sophisticated tastes, manners, lifestyles, etc. All of the aforementioned examples represent the necessity of time and expenses shown through economic capital to symbolize one’s ability and status. According to Veblen (1899/1983), “Conspicuous consumption of valuable goods is a means of respectability to the gentlemen of leisure.” Veblen presents a different perspective on accepting the fashion category from Simmel. Therefore, instead of accepting new fashion to indicate discrimination between lower-class and those who aspire to raise their social status, society's group in foundation to inherit a stable high position has comparatively low interest in the latest fashion.The analysis conducted has provided the basis for understanding why people accept certain manners. Bourdieu's primary concept of 'Habitus' is central to this understanding, and it is demonstrated in his text 'La Distinction.' Habitus is considered one of Bourdieu's most influential constructs in his studies, referring to physical actions, habits, traits, and abilities acquired through life experiences based on cultural capital. Additionally, it can also be viewed as a structure produced by our thoughts and movements that create our external social world, which is structured by the social universe. Habit can be seen as a collective phenomenon within groups of people and is dependent on factors such as an individual's characteristics, societal standing, and the epoch of society. The forms of capital also emphasize that without money, such forms will not exist. To explain the concept of habitus, Bourdieu often refers to the sports metaphor "experience for the game," noting that each person has a bodily sense of social positioning without

consciously acknowledging it.According to Bourdieu, habitus can be considered as a form of "taste" for various cultural aspects such as fashion, art, food, and lifestyle. Observing people's fashion preferences allows one to identify their characteristic style. Bourdieu's focus is on French society where these cultural markers are seen as social class indicators. He argues that the upper-class has a more refined taste for the arts and culture as they have been exposed to it from a young age and it has become their lifestyle unconsciously. On the other hand, the working-class has limited access to "high art" and is therefore unaware of this lifestyle. This means that Bourdieu's saying 'feel for the game' cannot be applied to the working-class as they are not culturally developed. The same principle applies to fashion where only the upper-classes have access to pre-shows and information about trends which then trickles down to street fashion at a lower cost for the working-class to follow.

Although the working-class has a strong desire to follow trends and often overspends on unnecessary things, they cannot experience the same lifestyle as the upper-class, leaving their demands higher and unable to see the bigger picture. This perception of inequality is based on the erroneous belief that some are born with finer things in life than others, leading to the emergence of the middle-class society as a means to guide the working-class towards a better life. Despite their wealth, the middle-class has higher demands in consuming goods than the upper-class. Before its creation, the working-class had limited spending due to their daily life. However, with the introduction of new money, they found themselves stuck between their aspirations

for high societal positions and the need to work hard to maintain their lifestyle.

According to Navarro, the habitus is not a fixed or permanent aspect of individuals and can be altered by unexpected situations, or over a long period of time. Bourdieu's theory also emphasizes the importance of 'fields', which represent the various social and institutional spheres where individuals express and reproduce their temperament, as well as compete for different types of capital. A field can be a network, structure, or relationship that is logical, religious, educational, cultural, etc. The experience of power in different fields can vary from person to person, and context and environment play crucial roles in shaping habitus. While Bourdieu pays attention to both structure and practice, his field theory focuses too much on structural analysis, which often neglects how fields are reproduced through agents' daily practices and localized settings. The world we live in is divided into different types of fields that organize the attributes of social position while simultaneously influencing the social situation for society. However, this supposed agreement and association with objective status are fixed in forms of capital.The significance of capital as a signifier lies in its role in establishing an agent's position within a given field. In society, social position is predominantly determined by a person's access to money, which serves as a major form of capital. By utilizing capital within certain fields, individuals and organizations are able to gain power and influence. According to Bourdieu, the relationship between habitus, fields, and capital is the driving force behind social dynamics. Bourdieu posits that the social world is composed of various fields, each with its own set

of rules, norms, and forms of capital. While some fields may share similarities, Bourdieu emphasizes their independence from one another. For example, within the vast field of fashion, each brand offers its own unique take on design. Despite the similarities between these brands' products, people interpret them based on their understanding of the brand's specific form of capital. This division of fields is central to Bourdieu's philosophy.Even though each field has its own set of beliefs, they may share commonalities, and in some areas, fields may experience intense competition with related fields. This cycle exists in every field, including fashion. Each generation of designers and manufacturers often pay homage to the accomplished artists who preceded them. However, the avant-garde of the following generations believes that they are unique and influential, making it impossible to break this cycle. This fact is essential because it represents the competition that every individual theoretically faces to succeed and endure in their respective fields.

As Boyne (1993: 248) suggests, a field is a macro-structural construct, enabling us to grasp the event's role and socio-temporal orchestration. Therefore, in combining all field participants into one temporally and spatially bounded event, LFW exhibits wider field characteristics such as boundaries, places, position selecting, and habitus through its orchestration. This interpretation of the field is crucial to comprehend LFW as a significant moment for the entire field.The purpose of fashion shows is not only to display the upcoming season's stylish clothing, but also to replicate and legitimize the field of fashion and the positions of its participants. The positions of individuals in the field depend on the amount and value of capital they possess. Fields are

characterized by competition, as participants strive to gain a monopoly over the form of capital that is most effective in that specific field. In the case of fashion, agents may use social and economic capital to establish a monopoly over certain aspects. According to Bourdieu, fields are comparable to magnetic fields. Each field has its own internal logic and rules that govern the "game" played within it. The field of power is the most important because it structures all other fields through the hierarchy of power relationships. Society is a collection of independent domains that cannot be collapsed under any overarching social logic. Therefore, the structure and division of society is a significant concern for agents, and changing the distribution and relative value of different forms of capital within a field can modify its structure. Fields have historical dynamism, which allows for agency and avoids classical structural determinism.Bourdieu's theories of capitals, habitus, and fields are present in various forms of societal classes. These theories depend on one's societal status. Incorporating this theory into fashion demonstrates that a significant amount of fashion is reliant on money and the upper class society. Without the upper class's involvement in establishing fashion, the chances of experiencing the minimum would decrease. People's fashion preferences showcase their social standing and personality. Bourdieu's concept of capital displays an individual's identity and social position while habitus reveals the unconscious mind through fashion. Fields convey the societal class divide. Moncrieffe (2006: 37) explains, "Bourdieu (1980) accounts for the tensions and contradictions that arise when people encounter and are challenged by different contexts. His theory can be used to explain how people can resist power

and domination in one [field] and express complicity in another".

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