Masculine domination is so anchored in our social practices and our unconscious that we hardly perceive it; it is so much in line with our expectations that we find it difficult to call into question. Pierre Bourdieu’s analysis of Kabyle society provides instruments to help us understand the most concealed aspects of the relations between the sexes in our own societies, and to break the bonds of deceptive familiarity that tie us to our own tradition.
Bourdieu analyzes masculine domination as a prime example of symbolic violence—the kind of gentle, invisible, pervasive violence exercised through the everyday practices of social life. To understand this form of domination we must also analyze the social mechanisms and institutions—family, school, church, and state—that transform history into nature and eternalize the arbitrary. Only in this way can we open up the possibilities for a kind of political action that can put history in motion again by neutralizing the mechanisms that have naturalized and dehistoricized the relations between the sexes.
This new book by Pierre Bourdieu—which has been a bestseller in France—will be essential reading for anyone concerned with questions of gender and sexuality and with the structures that shape our social, political, and personal lives.
About the author
Pierre Bourdieu is Professor of Sociology at the Collège de France and Director of Studies at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. Stanford University Press has published twelve other books by Bourdieu, most recently Pascalian Meditations (2000) and The Weight of the World: Social Suffering in Contemporary Societies (19
" . . . [The] value of the book lies very much in the broad sweep with which it tries to recast our understanding of masculine domination. . . . [It] opens up the field for an investigation of the gender order as an ongoing social project of both men and women. . . . Bourdieu's greatest contribution to the study of gender is not so much in the questions that he has answered, but rather in the questions he is allowing us to pose."