Bourdieu recontextualized: Redefinitions of western critical thought in the periphery

This article analyses the redefinition of global discourse in semi-peripheral settings; it proposes a model for the semi-peripheral recontextualization of critical discourses originating from the western core of the global intellectual system. The process of redefinition of global discourses in semi-peripheral settings appears to involve their parallel appropriation by actors whose positions can be reconstructed through Bourdieu’s field concept, in particular through the usage of his theory of cultural capital in the field of contemporary Polish sociology. The model presented in the article emphasizes a strong homology between the political field and the broader field of social sciences in peripheral countries. It appears that they are usually structured according to specific peripheral pro- vs anti-centre cleavages. Peripheral fields of power, which are organized around this binary logic, tend to produce specific, often contradictory, parallel redefinitions of western critical theory. Meanings become politically defined and distant from their original context. One of the paradoxical effects of these mechanisms is that the concepts which originally emerge as critical theory, in a semi-peripheral context, are often used in legitimization of and asapology for a neoliberal social order.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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