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Masculine Domination Revisited

Author(s): Pierre Bourdieu


Reviewed work(s):
Source: Berkeley Journal of Sociology, Vol. 41, Youth and Youth Culture (1996-1997), pp. 189203
Published by: Regents of the University of California
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TheGoffman
PrizeLecture:
MasculineDominationRevisited1
PierreBourdieu

PrefatoryRemarks
and its Chair,
I would liketo thankthe Sociologydepartment
to speakheretodayin frontof this
forthe opportunity
Neil Fligstein,
impressiveaudience.I would like to thankalso the studentsand the
and
departments
facultyfor theirhospitalityand all the different
in
warm
welcome
for
their
Berkeley.
programs
indeedproud,to be
FirstI mustsaythatI amgenuinely
honored,
the firstrecipientof the GoffinanPrize awardedby the Sociology
was a verydearfriend
ofBerkeley.
ofmine
ErvingGoffman
Department
of Californiain the
fromthe days whenhe taughtat the University
of theman,I wouldlike
sixties.Leavingasidemanypersonalmemories
of thescholarthat,in myview,deserve
to insiston two characteristics
andimitated.
to be celebrated
Firsthe was verymodestwhenitcame to his theoretical
culture.
He oftenexpressedhis regretsat not havingreceivedthe strong
thatsomeEuropeanssocial scientists
training
philosophical
beget.But,
in fact,as you will readilyrealizeby scrutinizing
his footnotesand
had a penetrating
and
especiallythesubstanceof hisanalyses,Goffman
ofthetheoretical
deftmastery
toolshe neededto formulate
andto carry
out his scientificproject. And without"playingthe part" of the
- in particular
he madesignalcontributions
to philosophy
philosopher,
to the philosophyof language,of performative
and
of the self,
acts,
areas.
other
among
had anotherveryrareintellectual
ErvingGoffman
qualitythatis
related
to
his
theoretical
he
had
a
closely
modesty:
unique abilityto
detectanddeciphertheminutedetails,thequasi-invisible
processes,and
theinfinitesimal
featuresof everyday
life.He was thediscovererof the
small" in societyas he raisedto the dignityof scientific
"infinitely
1Thisis thetextofthefirst
Goffinan
PrizeLecture,
delivered
Bourdieu
at
byPierre
theUniversity
ofCalifornia,
onApril4, 1996.Translated
andedited
Berkeley,
by
LocWacquant.

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190

BERKELEY JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY

objects the "bits and pieces" of social lifethatwere before everybody's


eyes but had neverbeen seen and understoodin this light.By doing so,
he opened up a whole new realm of inquiry for sociologists,
anthropologists,linguists,educationalists,and others.
One thingis particularlyworthyof notice in Goffinan'sway of
working. Instead of offeringrhetoricalanswers to huge and vague
questions such as "what is gender" or "how do gender,race, and class
intersect" (the kind of questions, so fashionable today, that lend
themselvesto neitherserious philosophynor rigoroussocial science but
to somethingthatfallsin between and too oftenmeets the standardsof
neither),Goffmanworked to reformulatebroad and abstractissues by
means of a precise analysisof the most concrete and apparentlytrivial
detailsof the social phenomenahe observed.
I once held in my hands the box in which he kept the slides of
advertisements- well over one thousand of them ~ that he had
collected and examined to ground his analysis of the ritualizationof
gender relations and that later lead to his well-knownbook, Gender
Advertisements(Goffman, 1976/1979). This is a good example, a
model, particularlyfor younger scholars, of how one does innovative
and rigorous social analysis without huge amounts of economic and
bureaucraticcapital (in the formof grants and other research means)
and even less symbolic capital, that is, without the ritual "name
references
dropping"of canonical philosophicalauthorsand perfunctory
thateat up ever more energyand space.
A few years ago, I wrote an article entitled "Masculine
Domination" (Bourdieu, 1990) which hopefullywill soon be fully
revised and amended so as to be published in book formin English.
Today, in thisbrieflecture,I would like to do threethings.FirstI want
to explicatethe methodologicalintentionthatinspiredme to tackle this
issue in the mannerI did, that is, by resortingto what on firstlook
appears like an ideographicanalysisof one particularcase of masculine
domination but is in my view a "quasi-experiment" about the
fundamentalstructuresof gender. Second, I will restate and elaborate
which I
some of the main substantiveresults of this work-in-progress,
with
American
to
the
critical
further
thanks
to
dialogue
develop
hope
scholars of which this lectureis one moment.Third and last, I want to
suggest some analytical and political implicationsof such an analysis
of masculine domination premised on a materialisttheory of the
economyof symbolicgoods.
For reasons of time, I will address these points in a schematic
and somewhat didactic manner,withoutenteringinto the detail of the
to cover all aspects of the phenomenon.
analysisand withoutattempting

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BOURDDEU: MASCULINE DOMINATION REVISITED

191

Thisis thekindof problem-like


mostrealtheoretical
is
problems-that
withveryconcreteempirical
not
bestanalyzedin a workshop,
materials,
in a formallectureliketoday.I wantto makesurethatI get themain
thatI hopewillfollow.
pointsacrossso as to startoffthediscussion
ofReflexivity
The EthnologicalDetouras an Instrument
Whenwe attemptto thinkmasculinedomination,
we standin
thatare
to, or submitting
to, modes of thinking
dangerof resorting
of masculinedomination.
themselves
Whether
we
productsof millennia
likeitor not,theanalyst,
manor woman,is partandparceloftheobject
in the formof
she triesto grasp. For he or she has internalized,
unconsciousschemataof perceptionand appreciation,
the historical
social structures
of masculinerule.Consequently,
our firstimperative
must be to finda practicalstrategythat enables us to effectthe
methodicalobjectivation
of the subjectof scientific
objectivation:a
thestructures
deviceforuncovering
ofthearchaicunconsciousthatwe
owe to our ontogenesisand phylogenesis
as genderedbeingsand that
leadsus to partakeoftheveryphenomenon
we seekto plumb.
This is one variantof themodernformof thecriticalintention
exemplified
by ImmanuelKant, namely,to explorethe categoriesof
In its morematerialist
veininaugurated
"understanding."
by Durkheim
it
involves
the
historical
(1912/1996),
retracing
genesis and social
fabrication
of our bodies, of the symbolicformsthroughwhichwe
theworldbutwhich,beingissuedout ofthisworld,are more
construct
oftenthannotin agreement
withtheworldso thatwe tendto takethe
latterforgrantedandcolludeinitsperpetuation.
Thirtyyears ago, it was necessaryto show (in my book
Reproductionin Education, Society, and Culture,Bourdieu and
forcein orderto
Passeron,1970/1977)thattheschoolis a conservative
forcethatit can be (underdefinite
social
tryto makeit the liberating
conditions
thatsociologycan helpspecify).
to take
Todayitis necessary
theriskof appearingto justify
theexistingstateof genderrelationsby
as genderedbeings
showinghow women,as theyhavebeenconstituted
to theirown domination.
This is
by the social world,can contribute
not forthe pleasureof disenchanting
or appearingmore
undertaken,
cleverthaneverybody
of
else, but in orderto increasethe possibility
the
revolution
whichis thenecessaryconditionof a
effecting symbolic
truetransformation
ofgenderrelations.
The questionI was facedwith,then,was thefollowing:
how to
transform
such exercisein transcendental
reflection
into an empirical
question,an anthropological
experiment{Erfahrung)that can be
controlled,repeated, replicated,by oppositionto an experience

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BERKELEY JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY

can be
{Erlebnis) of the masculineand the femininewhich,by definition,
neitherfalsifiednor replicated?(I must confess that I also wanted to
avoid writingyet anotherexegesis about exegeses of genderthatwould
add to the profusionof discourses on discourses about gender and sex,
yet anothertexton the canonical textsthatare on everyone's mandatory
list of authors,fromFreud to Lacan and Lvi-Strauss to Mackinnon. I
wanted, to put it bluntly,to avoid the empty speculation of pure
theoreticaldiscourse and its clichs and slogans on "gender and power"
which so farhave done moreto muddlethe issue thanto clarifyit).
To escape this infernalcircle whereinwe unconsciouslytake as
instrumentsof analysis of masculine domination the unconscious
(masculine) categories produced by this domination,I decided to start
fromthe anthropologicalanalysisof one particularhistoricalcase ~ as I
did in my studyo Homo Academicus (Bourdieu, 1984/1988), where I
used an in-depthstudyof the Frenchuniversitysystemin the sixtiesto
tryto uncoverthe invariantsof the modernacademic mindand universe.
This case is the world of the Kabyles of Algeria, among whom I did
fieldworkin the 1950s and 1960s.
To describethe objective structuresof the social universeof the
Kabyles is at the same time to describe the mental structuresof the
observer,that is, my own mentalstructuresas a man born in the neoMediterraneanculturaltradition.Kabylia offersa unique terrainin which
to carryout this experimentalexercise in self socioanalysis, or, if you
allow an expression that will perhaps sound oxymoronicto some, an
exercise in experimentalcriticistphilosophy.For a varietyof historical
reasons thatwould be too long to enumerate,thispeasant societyof the
mountainsof the Atlas was, until recently,a kind of anthropological
sanctuarywhere ancientMediterraneantraditionsand modes of thought
had been preserved at a fairlyhigh degree of practical coherence and
societies
Ethnological studies on honor and shame in different
integrity.
around the Mediterraneanrim,fromGreece to Egypt and fromSpain to
Turkey (Peristiany, 1965), show that Kabylia offers a living,
thatis at
of a masculinecosmogony-in-action
paradigmaticinstantiation
once exotic and familiar because it lies behind our own European and
even Euro-Americanculturaltradition.
It follows that, by studyingup close the ritual and mythical
practices of the Kabyles, we may uncover (or recover) a system of
representationsor, bettera systemof principlesof vision and di-vision
common to the entireMediterraneancivilizationand which survivesto
this day in our own mental structuresand, for a part, in our social
structures.The "phallonarcissistic"cosmology to whichthe Kabyle give
public and collective display haunts our unconscious, including our
scholastic unconscious and the unconscious of the science of the

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BOURDIEU: MASCULINE DOMINATION REVISITED

193

unconscious,thatis, psychoanalysis
(as even a cursoryanalysisof the
ofFreudor Lacan readilyreveals).
writings
Thusto use ethnological
as an instrument
ofrupture,
description
wentto histhousandslidesof genderadvertisement,
I
just as Goffinan
wentbackto theethnographic
dataI had collectedinKabyliabutwhich
I had onlypartially
analyzedin thisregard(see Bourdieu,1980/1990:
Book II). I treatedtheKabylecase as a sortof "aggrandized
picture"
a historicalmodel,but a
throughwhichwe can moreeasilyconstruct
structures
ofthemasculine
visionand
generalmodel,ofthefundamental
divisionof theworld.I soughtto use thismodelto explicatehow the
thatwe can clearlydiscerninthecase of
"phallonarcissistic"
dispositions
theKabylehavebeendeposited,inscribed,
within
thebodiesofthemen
and womenof contemporary
Westernsocietiesbutin distorted,
partial,
mutilated
and
forms,at the cost of gaps, discrepancies,
substitutions,
inconsistencies.
To giveyouan analogy,I hopedto putmyself
inthesituation
of
someonewho is trying
to reassembleand makesenseof theremaining
of a greatmonument,
the Parthenonor the Mausoleumof
fragments
a
or
a
leftbythosewho builtit.In
Helicarnesse,
byusing map
blueprint
thisrespect,theexperiment
was successful
insofar
as itlaterallowedme
to recoverfroma classicof feminist
such
as VirginiaWoolfs
thought
To TheLighthouseanalysesofthemasculine
I couldnothave
that
gaze
detectedhad I not re-readit througheyes informed
by the Kabyle
vision.
Therewas another,
butnevertheless
use of
secondary
important,
thisethnological
detour:to submittheinnumerable
theories
contending
of genderto theacid of theKabyletest,ifI mayput it thus,so as to
discernthose thatare scholasticartifactsof what Barbara Christian
(1988) calls the "race for theory"fromthose that bringto light
new aspectsof sociohistorical
genuinely
reality.At theriskof seeming
arrogant,I will confess that I also hoped that, throughthis
deviceand following
thelogicof a historically
founded
methodological
accountof gender
model,I would be able to propose a systematic
domination
thatwouldintegrate
thebest of the existingworkson this
topic(workswhichI read,formostof them,onlyex post, afterhaving
conductedmy own inquiry,for fear that I would be divertedin
directionsstipulatedby the masculineunconsciousof whichwe all
partake).
Some ProvisionalResultsofthe"Kabyle Experiment'9
I wouldlikenowto mention
someofthemainsubstantive
briefly

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BERKELEY JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY

results of this detailed anthropologicalanalysis of the Kabyle case in


which I also confrontsome of the great texts of Western philosophy,
from Kant to Sartre, treated on the same level, as "anthropological
documents"~butthiswould be too long to recounthere.
1. Necessitationthroughsystematicity
What we can see most clearly in the case of social universes
where "sexuality" has not been constitutedas such and autonomized
from other realms (the limitingcase of such autonomization being
eroticism and its commercial offshoot,pornography),is that sexual
differencesare both inserted and submerged within a system of
anthropologicaland cosmological oppositionsthat are constitutiveof a
vision and experience of the world. These differencespartake of a
sexualized (or gendered) cosmology whichincarnatesitselfin the sexual
topology of the socialized body, of its comportment,spatiality,and
motility(e.g., movementsfromlow to highare by definitionmasculine).
While any particularsexual differenceis arbitrary
when taken in
isolation (much like a phoneme), the opposition masculine/feminine
is
endowed with objective and subjectivenecessityby the fact that it is
entangled in, supportive of, and supported by an inextricable and
inexhaustiblesystemof homologous oppositionsthat all reinforceeach
other,between high and low, above and below, before and behind,left
and right,straightand crooked (in both the physical and the moral
sense), dry and wet, hard and soft,tasty and insipid,brightand dark,
insideand outside,etc. (Here is a small Goffmanianexperimentyou can
do to verifythis: ask a waiter at a restaurantto bring cheese and
desserts.You will observe that,in nearlyall cases, he will spontaneously
give saltydishes to men and sweet dishesto women).
This first effect of necessitation through systematicityis
redoubled, reinforced by "natural confirmation":these oppositions
correspond(in part) to geographicaloppositions,biological cycles, and
agrarian or cosmic cycles. In this manner the hierarchical,binary
opposition between male and female appears founded in the nature of
thingsbecause it is echoed virtuallyeverywhere.(When I was a child,
people in myvillage used to say thatit always rainson Good Friday,and
theywould see in thiscoincidencenaturalproofof theirreligiouscreed).
2. Social divisionand corporeal dispositions
The division of days, of the calendar of agrarian activities,of
as
with the opposition between the house and the assembly,all
space,
these objectivegendered divisions inscribedin the social order of things
become inscribedinto bodies in the form of dispositions and become

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BOURDIEU:

MASCULINE DOMINATION REVISITED

195

subjective principles of vision, cognitive categories through which


individualscome to see and constructthe world as meaningful,lived
reality.Being issued out of the world, such schemata of perceptionare
accorded with the objective order of thingsand inclineus to take the
world as a given. This spontaneous agreementof the social structures
and cognitive structures-when it occurs- is the basis of the doxic
experience of masculine dominationas inscribedin the natureof things,
invisible,unquestioned.

In the Kabyle world, and in our own untilquite recently(that is,


untilthe onset of the second feministrevolution),masculineorder is so
deeply grounded as to need no justification:it imposes itself as selfevident,universal (man, vir, is this particularbeing which experiences
himselfas universaland holds a monopolyover the human,homo). This
order tends to be taken for grantedby virtueof the quasi-perfectand
immediate agreementthat obtains between, on the one hand, social
structuressuch as those expressed in the social organizationof space
and time and in the sexual division of labor and, on the other hand,
cognitivestructuresinscribedin bodies and in minds.

3. Genderedsocializationand thesomatization
ofdomination
The work of socialization closes the circle by reinforcingand
systematizingthe structuringof the experience of a world structured
according to this originary division. Education exercises a
psychosomaticaction leading to the somatizationof sexual difference,
that is, of masculine domination.One particularlyimportantdomain of
application of this work of psychosomaticinculcationis the embodied
construction of social differencesbetween the sexes. It operates
accordingto several modalities.
The firstconsists in rites of institutions(rather than rites of
passage: Bourdieu, 1982/1990), such as circumcision,which mark the
opposition not between a "before" and an "after,"youthand adulthood,
but between those who participatein the rite-men-and those who do
not-women (historically,sports have played this critical role in our
societies).
The second is the constructionof the biological body, thatis the
symbolic remaking of anatomical differences.Here we observe a
surreptitiousinversion of causes and effects,whereby the socially
constructedbody serves as an ideological foundationfor the arbitrary
opposition throughwhich it was itselfconstructed.Thus the schemata
that organize the perception of sexual organs and activityare also
applied to the body itself,both male and female. They differentiate
between the body's high and low parts, the borderbetween thembeing

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BERKELEY JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY

markedby the belt (a sign of enclosureand symbolicboundarybetween


the pure and the impure,at least forwomen); between itsfrontand its
hind, withthe formeras the locus of sexual differenceand the latteras
and thus potentiallyfeminine,i.e.,
the place of sexual indifferentiation
passive, submissive,as Mediterraneaninsultsabout homosexuality,both
gestural and verbal, remindus (Dover, 1982); and between its public
parts, the face, the front,the eyes, the mustache, the mouth, noble
organs of the presentationof self whereinsocial identityis condensed,
the pointof honor,nif,on the one hand,and itsprivateparts, hiddenor
shameful,whichhonorrequiresto keep covered, on the other.
It is through the mediation of the sexual division of the
legitimateuses of the body that the link between phallus and logos
(enunciatedby psychoanalysis)is established.The public and active uses
of the higher,masculinepartof the body, to face, to con-front(quabel),
to look in the face and in the eyes, to speak publicly, are the monopoly
of men. Women who, as in Kabylia, must stay away frompublic places
have to renounceusingtheirgaze in a public manner(when outside they
walk with their eyes turnedtowards theirfeet). The same applies to
theirspeech: the only word which befitsthemin public is wissen, "I do
not know," the antithesisof virilespeech, which is decisive, assertiveas
and measured.
well as thoughtful
The work of socialization tends to effect a progressive
somatization of relations of gender domination through a twofold
operation:firstthe sociosymbolicconstructionof the vision of biological
sex which itselfserves as the foundationof all mythicalvisions of the
world; and, second, the inculcationof a bodilyhexis which constitutesa
veritable embodied politics. Masculine sociodicy thus owes its
exceptional efficacyto the fact that it cumulates and collapses two
operations. It legitimatesa relationof dominationby inscribingit in a
biological nature that is itself a naturalized social construction. It
legitimatesa relationof dominationby inscribingit in a biological which
is itselfa biologized social construction.
At the risk of muddlingthe logic of my demonstration,I would
like to digress brieflyand develop here one illustration,the theoryof
swelling.Virility,even in its ethicaldimension,thatis, as the quiddityof
vir, virtus,principleof conservationand of increase in honor (nif), is
tacitlyinseparable fromphysical virility,in particularvia the tangible
proofsof sexual potency(such as a plentifulprogeny)expected of every
genuine man. We can thus understand how the phallus, always
metaphoricallypresentbut veryrarelynamed and namable,concentrates
all of the fantasies of fecundatingpower. (The European tradition,
which remainsalive in the masculine unconscious of today, associates
physicalor moral courage to virilityand, much as the Berber tradition

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BOURDIEU:

MASCULINE DOMINATION REVISITED

197

does, establishesan explicitlinkbetweenthe volume of the nose, symbol


of male honor, and the presumed size of the penis). Thanks to its
thatswells
turgidityso dear to Lacan, the phalluspartakesof everything
or pancake thatone eats
and causes swelling:in the mannerof the fritter
circumcisionand teething,it "rises" or "gets up." This
duringchildbirth,
schema is the generative principle of rites of fertilityaimed at
mimeticallyproducing swelling,and it is ubiquitous in those moments
where the fecundatingaction of masculine power is to exercise itself,
such as weddings and the commencementof ploughing, which is
anotheroccasion fora homologous action of opening and impregnation
of the earth.The same associations thathauntLacan' s (1966) analysisturgidity,vital flux ~ can be found in the Berber words that designate
the sperm,zzel and especiallylamara, whose root, ammar, means to
fill,to prosper,and which evoke plenitude,thatwhich is fullof life and
fillswith life. And this schema of filling(full/empty,
fecund/sterile,
etc.)
is regularlycombined with the schema of swellingin the enactmentof
ritesof fertility.
By associatingphallic"swelling"to the vital dynamicof swelling
immanent to every process of natural reproduction (germination,
gestation, and so on), the social constructionof the sexual organs
records and ratifiesthe "pregnancy"of biologicallyfounded objective
forms, such as the erection of the penis. The fact that the cultural
"selection" of semanticallyrelevanttraitssymbolicallyendorses certain
indisputablenaturalpropertiescontributes,along withothermechanisms
(the main one being the embeddednessof each relationwithina system
of homologous and interconnectedrelations), to transmutingthe
arbitraryof social nomos into the apparentnecessityof naturalphusis.
To be sure, the arbitrarycharacterof the division is never completely
obscured, as testifiedby symbolicstrugglesover the representationof
sexual organs.
The thirdmodalityof the embodimentof socially constructed
differencesbetween the sexes is the symboliccoding of the sexual act
wherebythe man is above, on top, and the woman below, underneath.
The sexual act is thus representedas an act of domination,an act of
possession, a "taking" of woman by man (the same applies to
homosexual relations,where the opposition top/bottomis replaced by
the opposition front/back).Although it may appear as the original
matrixfromwhich are engenderedall formsof unions between opposite
principles,ploughshareand furrow,sky and earth,fireand water, etc.,
the sexual act is itselfconceived throughthe principleof the primacyof
the masculine. The opposition between the sexes is thus inscribedin a
whole series of mythico-ritualoppositions: high/low,above/beneath,
dry/wet,hot/cold, active/passive,mobile/immobile.Of the man who
desires the Kabyle say that "his kanoun is red" and "his kettleburns";

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BERKELEYJOURNALOF SOCIOLOGY

womenon theotherhandare said to havethecapacityto "extinguish


the fire,"to "give freshness."It follows(mytho)logically
that the
normalis thatwheretheman"mounts."
positionconsidered
of sociallyinstituted
Fourthand last,the somatization
gender
of the
differences
operatesvia the symbolicand practicalorganization
and deportment)
and the rites
differential
usages of thebody(motility
of girls. A
the virilization
of boys and the feminization
effecting
the
to
ritual
acts
are
of
Kabyle separatea boy
deployedby
multiplicity
of
them
involve
the
use
ofcutting
fromhismother;
many
objectssuchas
knivesdesignedto symbolizea tearor a break.Thus,afterbirth,the
themasculineside,where
babyboy is depositedto themother'sright,
a
masculine
such
as
and
objects
largeknife,a ploughshare,
lay
typically
It is thefather
who firstcutsthehairof the
a stonefromthefireplace.
feature,attachesthe
babyboy,owingto thefactthathair,a feminine
who firsttakestheyoung
latterto theworldof women.It is thefather
him
thatis, introduces
son (betweenages six and ten) to the market,
intotheworldof menand intothegamesof virilehonor.The childis
and wearsa silkbelt;he receivesa knife,a
dressedup in new clothing
while
hismotherputsan egg in thehood of his
and
a
mirror,
padlock,
the youngson
burnouse.At the entrancedoor of the marketplace,
His
breakstheegg andopensthepadlock,twoactsofviriledefloration.
himto the
and introduces
thenguideshimintothemarketplace
father
of thisexclusivelymasculineworld.On theirway
otherparticipants
home,fatherand son buythehead of a bull,a phallicsymbolclosely
honor.
linkedto nif masculine
at once sexually
All told, such double work of inculcation,
and sexuallydifferentiating,
differentiated
imposes upon men and
withregardto the social
ensemblesof dispositions
womendifferent
gamesheldto be crucialto society,suchas thegamesof honorandwar
or, in advancedsocieties,the arenasof
(fitforthe displayof virility)
of malebodies and
politics,business,and science.The masculinization
of the cultural
a
somatization
of femalebodies effects
feminization
of
the
unconscious.
durable
construction
to
a
tantamount
arbitrary
Cognitionand Misrecognition
Wheneverthe dominated,in the presentcase women,apply
unthoughtschemata of thoughtwhich are the product of the
ofpowerto objectsofthenaturaland social
ofthisrelation
embodiment
in whichtheyare
to therelationof domination
world,and in particular
whichthisrelationrealizes
ensnaredas well as to thepersonsthrough
are inevitably
itself(menbutalso otherwomen),theiracts ofcognition
leadsthemto construethis
acts ofmisrecognition.
Thismisrecognition

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BOURDIEU:

MASCULINE DOMINATION REVISITED

199

relationfromthe standpointof the dominant,i.e., as natural,and thereby


to collude in theirown dominationvia the complicityof the socialized
body. Such bodily acts of misrecognitionare not conscious acts, they
are not operations of consciousness; they operate under the guise of
emotions - what seventeenth-centuryphilosophers used to call
"passions."
Indeed, the case of gender dominationshows better than any
other that symbolic violence accomplishes itself through an act of
cognitionand of mis-recognitionwhich lies beyond- or beneath - the
controlsof consciousness and will, in the obscuritiesof the schemata of
habitus that are at once gendered and gendering.And it demonstrates
that we cannot adequately understand masculine domination (and
symbolicviolence more generally)withoutfirstjettisoningthe scholastic
opposition between coercion and consent, external imposition and
internaldesire,constraintand resistance.
But, however close the agreement between the objective
divisionsof the social world and the subjectiveprinciplesof vision that
agents apply to it, thereis always room forcognitivestruggles(which is
the most profoundlypoliticalformof struggle)over the meaningof the
world and in particularover sexual realities. The theory of symbolic
violence I am adumbratinghere differsfromothertheoriesin two major
ways: in the philosophyof action it presupposes and in the mannerin
whichit analyzes the symboliceconomy.
Firstly,it is predicated on a dispositional theoryof action that
can be deployed onlyby forsakingthe philosophyof the subject which is
being reincarnatedtoday under the fiizzy label of "agency." Men and
women constructthe social world, granted,but theydo so with forms
and categories that are constructedby the world, categories that they
neitherchoose nor make and of which theyare not the subjects. When
we say thatgender,race, class, and othersocial distinctionsare "socially
constructed",we must not forgetthat there are social conditions and
mechanisms of constructionof the constructors,including the State
which is the great hidden constructorof agents via the mediation of
legitimateidentities(Bourdieu, 1994). Masculine order is thus inscribed
in both institutionsand agents, positions and dispositions,things(and
words) on the one hand, and bodies on the other.Masculinityis stitched
into the habitus, into all habitus, those of men as well as those of
women. The androcentricvision of the world is the commonsenseof our
world because it is immanentto the systemof categories of all agents,
includingwomen (and thusfeministtheorists).
Secondly, the theoryof symbolicviolence I propose is based on
a materialist analysis of the symbolic order. Most theories of gender

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200

BERKELEY JOURNALOF SOCIOLOGY

orderor froma
proceedeitherfroma materialist
analysisofthematerial
symbolicanalysisof the symbolicrealm.WhatI proposeto do is to
intotheanalysisofthesymbolic
thematerialist
modeofthinking
import
universe(muchas Max Weberdid forthe sociologyof religion,cf.
Bourdieu, 1987). Indeed, the sociology of masculinedomination
betterthanmosttopicsthesevereshortcomings
of materialist
highlights
theoriesofdomination.
These shortcomings
are especiallyvisible in the case of
form
societiesin whichsymboliccapitalis thepreeminent
precapitalist
of power. Anthropologists
have shownthat one cannotunderstand
in suchsocialformations
withouttaking
sexualpracticesand meanings
intoaccountthefactthatmasculineactionis alwaysorientedtowards
(OrtnerandWhitehead,
1981).Butto drawthefullimplications
prestige
this
we
cannot
on
of
finding,
rely a symbolicanalysisof the symbolic
order.We need a materialist
theoryof theeconomyof symbolic
goods
in
and symbolicexchanges(Bourdieu,1994b).Masculinedomination,
thefinalanalysis,isfoundeduponthelogicof theeconomyofsymbolic
betweenmen and
asymmetry
exchanges,i.e., upon the fundamental
inthesocialconstruction
ofkinship
andmarriage:
that
womeninstituted
It is the relative
betweensubjectand object,agentand instrument.
autonomyof the economyof symboliccapital which explainsthat
in
can perpetuateitselfdespitetransformations
masculinedomination
themodeofproduction.
of womencan come onlyfroma
It followsthatthe liberation
the
collectiveactionaimedat a symbolic
struggle
capableof challenging
and
that
from
of
embodied
immediate
structures,
is,
objective
agreement
theveryfoundations
of the
thatwouldoverturn
a symbolicrevolution
of
and
symbolic
capital.
reproduction
production
ConcludingRemarks
to sayeverything
andto
It is notpossible,in sucha brieflecture,
say it in the rightorder,especiallyon such a thornyand contentious
thatthis
threefunctions
topic.But I wouldliketo close by suggesting
and
when
we
transfer
applyitto the
analysisoftheKabylecase can play
societies.
ofcontemporary
understanding
Firstly,this model can serve as a "detector"to locate and
traces and the scatteredbut ubiquitous
gather the infinitesimal
world view. It allows us to better
of
the
androcentric
fragments
and the
characterof masculinedomination
the systematic
understand
rule
as a
heterosexual
to
constitute
it
comes
male,
processeswhereby
naturalgiven.Secondly,theanalysisof theKabylecase as a "realized

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BOURDIEU:

MASCULINE DOMINATION REVISITED

20 1

idealtype" provides a benchmarkfor measuring change and challenge


on each of the dimensions of masculine domination I have briefly
discussed. Thirdly, the notion of symbolic violence enables us to
anticipate the conditions under which a genuine gender revolution
mightbecome possible. I have indicatedthat it would have to entail a
symbolicrevolution,thatis, to encompass not only an overthrowof the
order of things,of material structures,but also a mental upheaval, a
of the categories of perceptionthat lead us to collude
transformation
withthe perpetuationof the existingsocial order.
To conclude, I would not like to appear to partake of the "race
for theory"that I deplored earlier.But our topic is a very serious one,
with immense intellectualand political consequences. In my view, we
are standingat a historicalcrossroads as critical reason is in jeopardy
both outside the universitybut also inside. Today, feminism,which has
the potential for being one of the most powerfulweapons of critical
reason, stands in danger of being rendered inoffensive by its
contaminationwithwhat is called in the United States "postmodernism".
Now it is not the anthropologistof Kabylia but the sociologist of
the universityand of the foreign trade in ideas who is speaking.
Rememberthattheories,like all symbolicgoods, owe manyof theirkey
propertiesto theirsocial conditionsof productionand circulation.The
academic world withinwhich thisvague and woolly academic discourse
thatpasses itselfoffas "postmodernism"has its hierarchies,its formsof
hegemony and imperialism.Feminism must liberate itself from the
domination of the most masculine of all canonical disciplines,
philosophy,and, secondarily,of philosophicallyinspiredliterarytheory.
This is especially necessarywhen most of what feminismborrows from
so-called postmodern philosophy was itself borrowed, but
from the social sciences (one example: that realityis
surreptitiously,
socially or discursivelyconstructed is a fundamentalproposition of
classical social science, not a recent discovery and monopoly of socalled postmodernism).
Instead of uncriticallyrelying on deconstruction, feminism
should deconstructdeconstruction.It would thendiscover thatthe latter
has transportedintofeminismthe illusion of the omnipotenceof thought
that is constitutiveof the (masculine) unconscious of philosophy.This
illusion, in turn, is fueling the fantasical belief, typical of "campus
radicalism," that one changes the world by changing words, that the
subversion of terms,categories, and discourses sufficesto subvert or
dent objective structuresof domination. This dangerous delusion, in
turn, leads us to forget that discursive critique is not in itself
automaticallyendowed with any social efficacy;that definitesocial and
economic conditionsmustbe assembled forthe critiqueof categories to

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BERKELEYJOURNALOF SOCIOLOGY

to realize
becomesocialcritiqueand thatwe muststruggle
collectively
theseconditions
bothinandoutoftheuniversity.
I had with
of a conversation
I will close witha remembrance
in fronttheMaisondes Sciencesde l'homme- how
ErvingGoffinan,
beforehisdeath.He spokeabouttheneedto wage a
apposite-- shortly
collectivebattleagainstthe social abuses of social science.Today we
need to wage this strugglealso againstthe forces that work to
the hegemonyof philosophy
over the social sciencesat a
reestablish
timewhen,morethaneverbefore,we needthetools of criticalreason
ofdomination.
to countertherationalization

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