Proper recognition: Personhood and symbolic capital in contemporary sociology
Source TitleCurrent Sociology
PublisherSAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD
University of Melbourne Author/sMead, Geoffrey
AffiliationSchool of Social and Political Sciences
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsMead, G. (2020). Proper recognition: Personhood and symbolic capital in contemporary sociology. CURRENT SOCIOLOGY, 69 (1), https://doi.org/10.1177/0011392120932943.
Access StatusOpen Access
Sociologists maintain an ambivalent relationship to the category of the person, even more so at a time when the category is deemed insufficient for analysis yet appears increasingly significant within the world it purports to capture. This article begins with this ascending significance of the person in the neoliberal world of work, where the personal accumulation of skills and devolution of responsibility to individuals are privileged. Theoretical approaches to personhood attempt to respond to these changed conditions, with the work of Pierre Bourdieu often thought incapable of properly explaining such contemporary phenomena. In response, this article approaches personhood through the frame of Bourdieu’s concept of symbolic capital, those properties ‘misrecognized’ as belonging to the person when they are in fact the product of relations in which the person is enmeshed. A reconstruction of the concept in the sociologist’s work, along with analyses of its implications for a philosophy of perception and for ideology, will show the way for an unexpected approach both to Bourdieu’s own work, reframed through the concept of symbolic capital, and to personhood, which is revealed to be a profoundly and paradoxically relational notion.
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