Bourdieu, ” Variations and invariants “, Acts of Research in Social Sciences, 1987
Selected excerpts from an article by Pierre Bourdieu, which allows us to consider the role of the sociologist and, more widely, to the benefit of his research.
“What is the validity twenty years after a study of the field schools conducted in 1967 ? And if today the normaliens read less the New Observer and more Release, who, incidentally, did not exist, or if the maoists have disappeared from the HEC, while the future énarques challenge the teaching that is given to them, is it to say that such a work is worth only as a historical description of a time gone by or even that he has lost interest in the fact that it relies on old data ? Those who argue, without too much thinking, such arguments confess that they do not consider that the appearance of the most superficial of scientific work, that is to say, the description of the facts taken at their face value, and that they reduce the sociologist or the historian to the status of journalist – devoted to hold of speech as ephemeral as its objects. In reality, the attention structures, and the mechanisms that are hidden to ensure the perpetuation, and transformation, is what allows you to go beyond the appearances of contingency and the permanent creation of unpredictable novelty, that the social world can give, as long as, ignoring the substitutions and functional equivalents and structural, it attaches to anything that occupies the editors and readers of the daily, the last reform of the competition of ENA or the appointment of a new director of the Ecole normale supérieure.
But, more generally, the attention to the scum anecdotal evidence that, in the biographical experience of the agents (and the observer) can occupy the whole field of vision, such as books and movies to the taste of the day, or the politicians and philosophers to the mode, has all the chances to move towards striking differences but also superficial that the quirks of the clothing or the hair cut in the old photographs and preventing them from seeing both the constancy of the deep structures, the transformations they have actually incurred. “