Monday, December 11, 2006

Bourdieu on Books

In 1997 McDonald prepared an interesting account of the history of the book. His discussion is similar to Johns's but he presents a criticism of Darnton's approach. He notes that the "field" of study presented by Darnton is limited to the literary field and ignores other issues such as technology, social, etc.

"The agents on his single-axis scheme are defined primarily in terms of their function in the process of material production and distribution." (pg. 111)

This approach forces Darton to conflate both the agent's horizontal position with their vertical position, i.e., class. McDonald goes on to introduce Bourdieau's "symbolic production" i.e., the creation of percieved value and status. This argument may have very real significance for TM.

"...the first task of any cultural an analysis in not to interpret their meaning but to reconstruct their predicament. Initially, this might involve tracing the text's journey through Darnton's circuit. Yet, since the full significance of what is happening in the circuit can be discerned only in terms of the field's particular structure, this stage of the analysis can only the provisional. The primary task, then, is to reconstruct the field." (pg. 113)


McDonald, Peter D. 1997. Implicit structures and explicit interaction: Pierre Bourdieu and the History of the Book. The Library. Sixth Series 19.2: 105-122.


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