Bourdieu and Affect: Towards a Theory of Affective Affinities

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Steven Threadgold’s study represents the first comprehensive engagement of Pierre Bourdieu’s influential sociology with affect theory.

With empirical research and examples from sociology, it develops a theory of “Affective Affinities,” deepening our understanding of how everyday moments contribute to the construction and remaking of social class and aspects of inequalities. It identifies new ways to consider the strengths and weaknesses of Bourdieusian principles and their interaction with new developments in social theory.

This is a stimulating reading for students, researchers and academics across studies in youth, education, labour markets, pop culture, media, consumption and taste.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements and Preface

Preface and Background

1 Introduction: A Sociology of Affective Affinities

Introduction: Inequality feels…

Why Affect Needs Bourdieu (or, at least a theory of practice)

Why Bourdieu Needs Affect (or, drawing out the affect in Bourdieu)

Antecedents for a Theory of Affective Affinities


Bourdieu’s Concepts

Chapter Summaries

2 Illusio, Social Gravity and Social Magic: Purpose, Motivation and Aspiration


Social Gravity and Social Magic: Relations of Affective Affinity

Using Illusio and Social Gravity to Think About Aspirations

Illusio and Economies of Motivation and Intensity


3 Habitus: an affective reservoir of immanent dispositions


Levels of habitus and its affective plane

Affect, emotions, feelings, limitations

A Habitus limitation: Illusio lag


4 Fields, Settings, Atmospheres


The Affective Atmosphere of a Field

Situating where affective affinities occur: From Field to Setting

Practicing in Multiple Social Spaces: Fields, Settings or Games

Using Bourdieu to think with social settings


5 The Affectivity of the Forms of Capitals


The Affectivity of Cultural Capital

–              Embodied Cultural Capital

–              Objectified Cultural Capital

–              Institutionalised Cultural Capital

The Affectivity of Social Capital

The Affectivity of Economic Capital

Forms of capital to symbolic power: The affective transference of ‘capital conversion’


6 Symbolic Violence and Affective Affinities


Taste and Morals as Affective Affinities: From Symbolic violence to Affective violence?


7 Stasis and Change: Innovators, Affective Poles, Reflexivity, Irony


Social Change through Affective Charges: The Poles of Fields and Subversive Innovators

Importing illusio from a different field: How dispositions may change

Cruel optimism, the promise of happiness and illusio

Reimagining Illusio Through the Problem of Reflexivity

Stasis and complicity: The Challenge of Reflexivity, Irony and Cynicism


8 Homo economicus must die: Towards a Figure of the Accumulated Being


Homo Economicus, the Cultural Dupe and the Inspirational Meritocrat

The Accumulated Being


9 Conclusion

10 References

11 Index


Youth, Class and Everyday Struggles

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The concept of everyday struggles can enliven our understanding of the lives of young people and how social class is made and remade. This book invokes a Bourdieusian spirit to think about the ways young people are pushed and pulled by the normative demands directed at them from an early age, whilst they reflexively understand that allegedly available incentives for making the ‘right’ choices and working hard – financial and familial security, social status and job satisfaction – are a declining prospect.

In Youth, Class and Everyday Struggles, the figures of those classed as ‘hipsters’ and ‘bogans’ are used to analyse how representation works to form a symbolic and moral economy that produces and polices fuzzy class boundaries. Further to this, the practices of young people around DIY cultures are analysed to illustrate struggles to create a satisfying and meaningful existence while negotiating between study, work and creative passions.

By thinking through different modalities of struggles, which revolve around meaning making and identity, creativity and authenticity, Threadgold brings Bourdieu’s sociological practice together with theories of affect, emotion, morals and values to broaden our understanding of how young people make choices, adapt, strategise, succeed, fail and make do.

Youth, Class and Everyday Struggles will appeal to undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as postdoctoral researchers, of fields including: Youth Studies, Class and Inequality, Work and Careers, Subcultures, Media and Creative Industries, Social Theory and Bourdieusian Theory.

To Cite:

Threadgold, S. 2017. Youth, Class and Everyday Struggles. Routledge: London.

ISBN: 978-1-138-84998-3 (hardback); 978-1-315-72507-9 (eBook).

Bourdieusian Prospects

Edited Collection with Lisa Adkins and Caragh Brosnan

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Contents and Introduction Chapter here

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Bourdieusian Prospects considers the ongoing relevance of Bourdieu’s social theory for contemporary social science. Breaking with the tendency to reflect on Bourdieu’s legacies, it brings established and emergent scholars together to debate the futures of a specifically Bourdieusian sociology. Driven by a central leitmotif in Bourdieu’s oeuvre, namely, that his work not be blindly appropriated but actively interpreted, contributors to this volume set out to map the potentials of Bourdieusian inflected social science. While for many social scientists the empirical and theoretical developments of the twenty-first century mark a limit point of Bourdieusian social theory, this collection charts both how and why a Bourdieusian sociology has a future, which is crucial for the ongoing development and roll out of an engaged, relevant and critical social science.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: The Prospects of a Bourdieusian Sociology, (Caragh Brosnan and Steven Threadgold)

2. Learning with Bourdieu: Pedagogy, Cosmology and Potty-Training, (Greg Noble)

3. Travelling with Bourdieu: Elite Schools and the Cultural Logics and Limits of Global Mobility,(Jane Kenway

4. Bourdieu and the Future of Knowledge in the University, (Caragh Brosnan)

5. Pierre Bourdieu: State, Enlightenment and the Scottish Literary Field,(Bridget Fowler)

6. Capitalising Culture: The Political Career of a Governmental Actor, (Tony Bennett)

7. Objects and Materials: With, against and beyond Bourdieu, (Elizabeth B. Silva)

8. Hermeneutic Bourdieu, (Simon Susen)

To Cite:

Adkins, L. Brosnan, C. and Threadgold, S. 2017. Bourdieusian Prospects. Routledge: London. ISBN: 978-1-138-84508-4.

International Perspectives on Theorizing Aspiration: Applying Bourdieu’s Tools

Edited with Garth Stahl, Derron Wallace and Ciaran Burke

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International Perspectives on Theorizing Aspirations offers new insights and guidance for those looking to use Bourdieu’s tools in an educational context, with a focus on how the tools can be applied to issues of aspiration. Written by contributors from the UK, USA, Australia, Nigeria, Jamaica and Spain, the book explores how Bourdieu’s tools have been applied in recent cutting-edge educational research on a range of topics, including widening participation, migration, ethnicity, and class. The contributors consider how aspirations are theorized in sociology, as well as exploring the structure/agency debates, before recapitulating Bourdieu’s tools and their applicability in educational contexts. A key question running through the chapters is: how does social theory shape research?

Including recommended readings, this is essential reading for anyone looking to use Bourdieu in their research and for those studying aspiration in an educational research setting.

Table of contents

Foreword, Diane Reay (LSE, UK)
Introduction: Using Bourdieu to Theorize Aspiration, Garth Stahl (University of South Australia, Australia), Ciaran Burke (University of Derby, UK), Derron Wallace (Brandeis University, USA) and Steven Threadgold (University of Newcastle, Australia)
Part I: Advancing Bourdieu’s Conceptual Tools 
1. Maybe it is for the Likes of Us … Reconsidering Classed Higher Education and Graduate Employment Trajectories, Ciaran Burke (University of Derby, UK)
2. Bourdieu is Not a Determinist: Illusio, Aspiration, Reflexivity and Affect, Steven Threadgold (University of Newcastle, Australia)
Part II: Using and Developing Habitus 
4. Young People’s Educational Expectations, Aspirations and Choices: The Role of Habitus, Gender and Fields, Aina Tarabini and Marta Curran (Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain)
3. Putting Habitus to Work: Habitus Clivé, Negotiated Aspirations and a Counter-Habitus?, Garth Stahl (University of South Australia, Australia)
Part III: Using and Developing Theoretical Approaches to Capital
5. Operationalizing Bourdieu for the Study of Student Aspirations: Conceptual and Methodological Challenges, James Albright, Jennifer Gore, Maxwell Smith (University of Newcastle, Australia) and Kathryn Holmes (Western Sydney University, Australia)
6. Shadow Capital and the Undermining of College-Going Aspirations, Amy E. Stich (University of Georgia, USA) and Kristin Cipollone (Ball State University, USA)
Part IV: Advancing Bourdieu’s Concepts in The Field of Education
7. Aspirations and the Histories of Elite State Schools in London: Field Theory, Circuits of Education and the Embodiment of Symbolic Capital, Sol Gamsu (University of Bath, UK)
8. Thinking with Bourdieu About Teachers’ Pedagogies and Their Dispositions for Social Justice: Unthinkingness in Aspiration Formation, Russell Cross (University of Melbourne, Australia), Carmen Mills (University of Queensland, Australia), Trevor Gale (University of Glasgow, UK)
Part V: Bourdieusian Perspectives on Aspirations and Gender 
9. ‘It Was Noticeable So I Changed’: Supergirls, Aspirations and Bourdieu, Tamsin Bowers-Brown (University of Derby, UK)
10. Bourdieu Plus: Understanding the Creation of Agentic, Aspirational Girl Subjects in Elite Schools, Joan Forbes (University of Stirling, UK) and Claire Maxwell (University College London, UK)
Part VI: Ethnic Inequalities and Identities: Assessing Bourdieu’s Tools 
11. Aspirations in Britain’s Caribbean diaspora: Applying Bourdieu’s Doxa, Derron Wallace (Brandeis University, USA)
12. Bourdieu in Nigeria: The Colonial Habitus and Elite Nigerian Parents’ Aspirations for their Children, Pere Ayling (University of Suffolk, UK)
13. Bridging the Gap: Using Bourdieu and Critical Race Theory to Understand the Importance of Black Middle-Class Parents’ Educational Aspirations for Their Children, Barbara Adewumi (University of Kent, UK)
IndexTo Cite:Stahl, G. Wallace, D. Burke, C & Threadgold, S. 2019. International Perspectives on Theorizing Aspiration: Applying Bourdieu’s Tools. Bloomsbury: London.ISBN: 978-1-350-04034-2.