A Journey Through French-Style Critique

Luc Boltanski

in New Spirits of Capitalism?

Published in print February 2013 | ISBN: 9780199595341
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191750755 | DOI:
A Journey Through French-Style Critique

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This chapter outlines the programme of a sociology of critical practice. It distinguishes this from Bourdieu's critical sociology and the theory of domination by emphasizing the role of actors. In this perspective, the actors are very different from the agents to which the critical sociology of domination had been accustomed to analyze. In the sociology of critical practice, are always active, not passive, openly critical, condemning injustices. From this standpoint, the social world is no longer seen a place of passively accepted domination, or even of domination suffered unconsciously, but instead a site full of disputes, critiques, disagreements, and attempts to restore local, always contestable, harmony. The chapter argues that the effort to renew the contribution of sociology to social critique by relying in this way directly upon the criticism formulated by the actors has however had only modest success because it does not permit mounting a wider critique encompassing social reality regarded in its totality, with different components systematically linked one to another, a critique that would consequently advocate for a drastic change of the political order. It argues that this reflects not a failing of the theory but a realistic understanding by actors of the nature of the situation in which they find themselves. It is institutions that have the task of maintaining in working order the current formats and rules and, hence, the task of confirmation of the reality of the reality. However, institutions are always precarious in the sense that they claim to be timeless, disembodied and eternal but their rules etc. can only ever be articulated by embodied actors. This hermeneutical contradiction opens a breach within which critique can develop and the issue of emancipation can arise.

Keywords: critique; pragmatism; domination; institution; emancipation

Chapter.  7827 words. 

Subjects: Political Economy

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