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THE WORK OF CONSTRUCTION AND ITS EFFECTS

When faced with the challenge of studying a world to which we are linked by all sorts of specific investments, inextricably intellectual and 'temporal', our first automatic thought is to escape; our concern to escape any suspicion of prejudice leads us to attempt to negate ourselves as 'biased' or 'informed' subjects automatically suspected of using the weapons of science in the pursuit of personal interests, to abolish the self even as knowing subject, by resorting to the most impersonal and automatic procedures, those, at least in this perspective (which is that of 'normal science'), which are the least questionable. (Here we can see the attitude of resignation which so often underpins the choice of hyperempiricism; and also the genuinely political ambition - in the specific sense - which is dissimulated by scientistic neutralism, the ambition to resolve confused debates, through scientific work and in the name of science, to offer oneself as referee or judge, to negate oneself as subject involved in the field, but only to resurface 'far from the madding crowd', with the irreproachable appearance of an objective, transcendent subject.)

There is no escaping the work of constructing the object, and the responsibility that this entails. There is no object that does not imply a viewpoint, even if it is an object produced with the intention of abolishing one's viewpoint (that is, one's bias), the intention of overcoming the partial perspective that is associated with holding a position within the space being studied. But our very operations of research, by obliging us to articulate and formalize the implicit criteria of ordinary experience, have the effect of rendering possible the logical verification of their own premises. Indeed, it goes without saying that the series of successive choices, spread moreover over several years, which, in the case of the enquiry into the power structure of the arts and social sciences faculties in 1967, led us for instance to draw up the list of individuals studied by determining the world of pertinent properties which would characterize them, that is the population of the most 'powerful' or the most 'important' academics, was not accomplished with perfect epistemological transparency or entire theoretical lucidity.11 Only someone who has never undertaken empirical research could believe or claim the contrary, and we cannot be sure that the kind of opacity which the successive operations have for us (where there is a proportion of what is called 'intuition', that is, a more or less verifiable form of pre-scientific knowledge of the object directly concerned, and also of the scholarly knowledge of analogous objects) is not the true source of the indispensable creativity ill empirical research: when we act without entirely knowing what we ,11 doing, we make it possible to discover in what we have done '.omcthing of which we were previously unaware.

This scholarly construction is achieved through the slow and difficult accumulation of different indices, whose relevance is suggested from first hand knowledge of the different positions of power (for instance, the Universities Consultative Committee,12 or the board of examiners for the agregation),'3 and of people considered 'powerful', or even properties commonly designated or denounced as indices of power. The 'physiognomy', globally and approximately apprehended, of the 'powerful' and of power thus gradually gives way to an analytical series of the distinctive characteristics of the holders of power and of the different forms of power, whose significance, but also importance, become clarified, during the process of research, through the statistical relations which link them to each other. Far from being, as certain 'initiatory' representatives of the 'epistemological break' would have us believe, a sort of simultaneously inaugural and terminal act, the renunciation of first-hand intuition is the end product of a long dialectical process in which intuition, formulated in an empirical operation, analyses and verifies or falsifies itself, engendering new hypotheses, gradually more firmly based, which will be transcended in their turn, thanks to the problems, failures and expectations which they bring to light.14 The logic of research is an miermeshing of major or minor problems which force us to ask ourselves . every moment what we are doing and permit us gradually to understand more fully what we are seeking, by providing the beginnings of an answer, which will suggest new, more fundamental and more explicit questions.



But it would be extremely dangerous to be satisfied with this 'learned ignorance'. And I would go so far as to say that the principal virtue of the scientific work of objectification (on condition, of i nurse, that we know how to analyse its results) consists in its tllowing us to objectify objectification. Indeed, for the researcher anxious to know what he is doing, the code changes from an instrument of analysis to an object of analysis: the objectified product 1 the work of codification becomes, under his self-reflexive gaze, I lie immediately readable trace of the operation of construction of I lie object, the grid which has been mapped out to construct the datum, the more or less coherent system of categories of perception which have produced the object of scientific analysis, in this particular ease, the world of 'important academics' and their properties. The set of properties identified unites on the one hand the world of criteria (or properties), which, apart from the proper name, the most precious of all properties in the case of 'a famous name', are in fact utilizable and utilized in ordinary practice to identify or even to classify academics (which is corroborated by the fact that we are dealing for the most part with published information, and especially with the formulas used for self-introduction), and, on the other hand, a series of characteristics which practical experience of the university field leads us to consider as pertinent and thus to establish as constituent properties.

In addition, our self-reflexive scrutiny of the very operation of coding reveals everything which separates the constructed code, which usually only duplicates socially identified codifications like school certificates or the socio-professional categories of INSEE statistical surveys15 from the practical and implicit schemata of ordinary perception; and, in so doing, it reveals all the implications which an awareness of that difference has for the adequate understanding of scientific study and its object. Indeed, if it is true that any code, as much in the sense of information theory as in the legal sense, supposes a consensus on the finite set of properties chosen as pertinent (juridical formulas, says Weber, 'take into account exclusively the unequivocal general characteristics of the case in point'), and on a set of formal relations between these properties, it would be tendentious to ignore the distinction between cases where the scientific coding duplicates a coding already existing in social reality, and cases where it produces a new criterion from scratch, thus assuming that the question of the pertinence of this criterion has been resolved, whereas it could be an object of conflict - as, more generally, it would be tendentious to gloss over the question of the social conditions and effects of the codification. One of the most important properties of any property, which is abolished when we mingle criteria constructed by the researcher with socially recognized criteria, is in fact its degree of codification, just as one of the most significant properties of a field is the degree to which its social relations are objectified in public codes.

In fact it is clear that the different properties chosen to construct the identity of different academics are very unequally used in ordinary experience to perceive and appreciate the pre-constructed individuality of these same .incuts, and above all very unequally objectified, therefore very unequally present in the written sources. The frontier between the institutionalized properties, which are therefore identifiable in official documents, and properties which are not objectified, or mostly not, is relatively fluid, and is hound to change according to situations and periods (any particular ientific criterion, a socio-professional category, for instance, can become ,i political criterion in certain political conjunctures): thus one moves through decreasing degrees of objectification, from the formal titles used when introducing oneself (for example, on official letterheads, identity cards, visiting cards, etc.) such as university posts ('professor at the Sorbonne'), hi positions of power or authority ('dean' or 'member of the Institute'), which official terms of reference, known and recognized by all, are often associated with terms of address ('professor', 'dean', etc.), to properties which are little used in official classifications of ordinary existence, although 11 ley are institutionalized, like the direction of a laboratory, membership ill the University Supreme Council or of examiners' boards for concours,16 .ind finally to all those indices, often impenetrable for the foreigner, which ilcline what is called 'prestige', that is, one's position in strictly intellectual hi scientific hierarchies. In this case the researcher is constantly faced with in alternative: either to introduce classifications which are more or less artificial or even arbitrary (or, at the very least, always liable to be denounced as such), or to bracket out hierarchies which, even if they do not exist in an official, public, objectified state, are constantly at issue and operative in the very constitution of objectivity. In fact, as we shall see, the same is true of all criteria, even the most 'self-evident', such as purely ' demographic' indices, which allow their authorized users to view their science as a 'natural' science.17 But what we find when we choose indices ill 'intellectual' or 'scientific prestige' - is that the questions of criteria which the researcher is led to formulate about his object, that is, the problems of legitimate membership and of hierarchization and, more precisely, the problems of power and of the principles defining and hierarchizing power, are problems which are already inherently formulated in the object itself.


Thus the work of construction of the object determines a finite set of pertinent properties, established hypothetically as effective i',uiables, whose variations are associated with the variations of the phenomenon observed, and it thereby defines the population of 4>n\tructed individuals, themselves characterized by the possession ill these properties to varying degrees. These logical operations produce a set of effects which must be articulated to avoid recording i hem unwittingly in the form of an affirmation (which constitutes the cardinal error of objectivist positivism). In the first place,the objectification of the non-objectified (for example, scientific prestige), as we have just seen, tends to create an effect of officialization of a quasi-judicial kind: thus the establishment of classes of international celebrity founded on the number of references or the elaboration of an index of journalistic participation are operations absolutely analogous to those achieved from within the field by the producers of hit parades.18 This effect cannot be overlooked in the test case of properties which are officially or tacitly excluded from all taxonomies, whether official and institutionalized or unofficial and informal, such as religious denomination or sexual preference (heterosexuality or homosexuality), although they can intervene in practical judgements and be associated with variations visible in observed reality (it is no doubt this kind of information which people have in mind when they denounce the 'police investigation' tendencies of sociological enquiry).

In order to illustrate the effects of scholarly codification, especially the homogenization of the status accorded to different properties which are very unequally objectified in real life, we need only consider the mode and degree of existence qua groups of the populations identified by the different criteria, which vary from age- groups or sexual groupings (despite the appearance of a feminist consciousness and movement), to sets such as normaliens19 or agreges,20 which are characteristic of two different modes of collective existence: the title of normalien underwrites a network of practical solidarity maintained by a minimum of institutional support (graduate association, annual newsletter, annual dinner of matriculation years); the title of agrege, which implies no real solidarity linked to any common experience, underwrites an organization, the Societe des Agreges, oriented towards defending the value of the diploma and all the values dependent on it, and mandated with the power to speak and act for the group as a whole, to express and defend its interests (in negotiations with government institutions, for instance).


The effects of institutionalization and homogenization which operate through simple codification, and of the elementary form of recognition which it instinctively accords to unequally acknowledged criteria, operate as if they were laws. In so far as they operate unbeknown to the researcher, they lead him to conclude 'in the name of science' what is not conclusive in reality: indeed, the degrees of recognition granted in practice to the different properties vary considerably according to the agents (and also according to situations ! periods), and certain properties which some might advance and I public claim to, such as the fact of writing for the Nouvel 1 '/- i vuteur (not an imaginary case), will be perceived by others, 11 i'd in different positions in their world, as stigmata, entailing

■ Iii'iion Irom that world. Cases of perfect inversion like this, where

in person's pedigree can become another's mark of infamy, one's i mi nl .inns another's insult, and vice versa, are there to remind us

Hi ihe university field is, like any other field, the locus of a struggle in ili ifimine the conditions and the criteria of legitimate membership I legitimate hierarchy, that is, to determine which properties are pi mucin, effective and liable to function as capital so as to generate

I specific profits guaranteed by the field. The different sets of individuals (more or less constituted into groups) who are defined In ilicsc different criteria have a vested interest in them. In proffering sr criteria, in trying to have them acknowledged, in staking their

hi l.iim to constitute them as legitimate properties, as specific ipn.il, ihey are working to modify the laws of formation of the

I in i s characteristic of the university market, and thereby to increase 111111 potential for profit.

I'lius there exists quite objectively a plurality of rival principles

■ ■I Innarchization, and the values which they determine are in mensurate, or even incompatible, because they are associated

nli mutually conflicting interests. One cannot simply, as believers ni indices doubtless would, conflate participation in the Universities i inr.ultative Committe or the board of examiners of the agregation " uh (lie fact of being published by Gallimard or of writing for the 'v'hhtc/ Observateur, and a pseudo-scholarly construction conflating In sr indices would only reproduce the polemical amalgam designated Ih the semi-scholarly notion of 'mandarin'. A number of the criteria 'd by scientific construction as instruments of knowledge and in.ilvsis, even those most neutral and 'natural' in appearance, like i| i . also function in the reality of practices as principles of division >iinl hierarchization (we only have to think of the classificatory and

■ ■In polemical use of oppositions - old/young, palaeo/neo, former/ in mi, etc.) and thereby also become an object of conflict. That is in s.iv that we can only avoid claiming that the truth of the university lipid is one or other of the more or less rationalized representations ■■ Inch are engendered in the struggle for classification, and especially iln semi scholarly representations which scholarly circles give of


II in nsel ves, if we include in our study the process of classification d I ted by the researcher, and the relationship between that and the classificatory attributions indulged in by the agents (and by the researcher himself, once he is not directly involved in research).

Indeed, it is because it does not clearly operate the break between these two discourses that in this domain, as elsewhere, sociology so often tends to offer semi-scholarly taxonomies, which it calls 'typologies', mingling indigenous labels, often closer to the stigma or the insult than the concept, with 'scholarly' notions, constructed on the basis of a more or less informed analysis. Organized around several typical characters, these 'typologies' are neither really concrete - although they are no doubt derived, like the 'characters' described by moralists, from familiar figures of first-hand experience or from more or less polemical categoremes - nor really constructed, although they resort to terms current in the jargon of the American social scientists, such as local or parochial or cosmopolitan. Being the product of a realist intention, that of describing typical individuals or groups, they combine, in disordered fashion, different principles of opposition, mingling criteria as heteroclite as age, relations to political power or to science, etc. For instance, we have the locals (including the dedicated, 'strongly committed to the institution', the true bureaucrat, the homeguard and the elders) and the cosmopolitans (including the outsiders and the empire builders), whom Alvin W. Gouldner distinguishes according to their attitudes towards the institution {faculty orientations), their investment in professional competence and their internal or external orientation;21 or again, according to Burton Clark, who sees in them the representatives of different 'cultures', the teacher, devoted to his students, the scholar- researcher, 'chemist or biologist totally committed to his laboratory', the demonstrator, a sort of instructor bent on transmitting technical competence, and finally the consultant, 'who spends as much time in the air as on the campus';22 or finally - although we might continue at length in this vein - the six types distinguished by John W. Gustad, the scholar, who considers himself 'not as an employee but as a free citizen of the academic community', the curriculum adviser, the individual entrepreneur, the consultant, 'always off campus', the administrator and the cosmopolitan, 'oriented towards the outside world'.23

It is hardly necessary to point out all the cases where the concept- as-insult and the semi-scholarly stereotype - like that of the jet sociologist - become transformed into semi-scientific 'types' - annuitant, outsider - and all the subtle indices where the position hI the analyst in the space being analysed is betrayed. In fact 11 u se typologies gain credence inasmuch as, being the product of l.issificatory schemes current in the milieu under consideration, they operate as series of real divisions, analogous to those operated by niilinary intuition, of a domain of objective relations thus reduced in .1 population of university lecturers, and prevent us from i iiiu eptualizing the university field, either as such or in the relations which, at different times in its history and in different national innicxts, link it with the field of political power on the one hand, mil the intellectual and scientific field on the other. If these i\ pologies, unfortunately very common and perfectly representative hI what often passes for sociology, warrant our interest, it is because, i III tiugh retranslating things into a language of scholarly appearance, 11 can lead people - and not only their authors - to believe that iliey are providing access to a superior level of knowledge and reality, whereas ultimately they are telling us less than we would learn from i direct description by a good inside informer. The classifications

■ ugendered by a disguised application of the principles of vision i>i iiially used for the needs of practice 'are like those that someone would give who tried to classify clouds by their shapes', as Wittgenstein says.24 But appearances are often superficially convincing,, and these objectless descriptions, which have in their favour the logic of ordinary experience and the fagade of scientificity, are better placed to satisfy common expectations than are scientific iinstructions, which both directly confront the individuality of the pellicular case seized in all its complexity, and are much more distant

I.... the immediate representation of the real given by ordinary

I itiguage or its semi-scholarly retranslation.

I I i us social science cannot break with common criteria and i l.issilications and disentangle itself from the struggles of which they both end and means, unless it takes them explicitly as its object instead of letting them slyly infiltrate scientific discourse. The milieu which it must study is the object and, to a certain extent at least, iIn product of rival, sometimes hostile representations, which all

■ I niii the status of truth and thereby the right to exist. Any position nlnpted towards the social world orders and organizes itself from a i i t i.lin position in the world, that is to say from the viewpoint of ilie preservation and augmentation of the power associated with this position. Thus it is that, in a milieu which depends as much for its very reality as the university field does on the representation which I its agents have of it, these agents can exploit the plurality of principles I ol hierarchization and the low degree of objectification of symbolic J capital, in an attempt to impose their vision and modify their position 1 inside that space, as far as their symbolic power allows, by modifying I the representation which others (and they themselves) can have of I this position. There is nothing more revealing, from this point of I view, than the forewords, exordia, preambles or prefaces, which often I disguise behind the appearance of a methodologically indispensable j methodological premise their more or less skilful attempts to translate ] into scientific virtues the necessities and above all the limits inherent I in a position and a trajectory, at the same time as depriving I inaccessible virtues of their enchantment. Thus we may see the j scholar whom we readily call 'narrowly specialized', and who cannot ] be unaware of this (it must have been pointed out to him a thousand j times, in a thousand ways, in the cruelly euphemistic language of I academic judgement, and first of all, perhaps, through those j magisterial verdicts which grant him only 'solid scholarship'), I working to discredit the flights of 'brilliant' essayists and 'ambitious' I theorists; as for the latter, they will rely on the rhetoric of irony to I praise the erudition which delivers such 'precious material' for their I reflection, and only if they felt really threatened in the hegemonic I position which they allocate themselves would they overtly express I their arrogant contempt for the petty and sterile caution of 'positivist' I hacks.25

In short, as we can see in polemical exchanges, which are the high I spots of a constant process of symbolic competition, practical knowledge of the social world, and especially of adversaries, obeys I a reductionist tendency; it resorts to classifactory epithets which I designate or identify groups, and groups of properties, in an eclectic I perspective, and do not admit awareness of the principles on which I they are based. And we would have to be quite ignorant of all this I logic to suppose that a technique like that used by 'judges', which ; consists in interrogating a group of agents, treated as experts, on the problems under discussion - for instance, the relevant criteria for defining university power or a hierarchy of prestige - might evade ! the question of which agencies can be authorized to legitimate the I agencies of legitimation. Indeed, we have only to put this technique I to the test to see that it reproduces the very logic of the game which it is supposed to referee: the different 'judges' - and the same judge

tlifIt rent moments - deploy different or even incompatible criteria, iliir. reproducing (but only imperfectly, because in an artificial ulii.nion) the logic of classificatory judgements produced by the il'.i ins in ordinary existence. But, above all, the slightest attention in iIn- relations between the categoremes selected and the properties

■ ■I ihose who formulate them shows that we anticipate the nature of 11 iwilgcments obtained if we anticipate the criteria of selection of iIn' 'nidges', that is to say the spatial position, still unknown at the liniment of research, which motivates their judgements.

I )oes this mean that the sociologist has no choice but to use the inimical yet also symbolic force of science to set himself up as a |i I I'.e ol the judges, and impose a judgement which can never be hi el v Iree from the presuppositions and prejudices associated with In position in the field which he claims to objectify, or to renounce In i l.iim to objectivist absolutism and be satisfied with a perspectivist i Hiding of the viewpoints at issue (including his own)? In fact, his lireilom in the face of the social determinisms which affect him is l'iiipni ilonate to the power of his theoretical and technical methods "I iibjectification, and above all, perhaps, to his ability to use them

■ ■ himself, so to speak, to objectify his own position through the I'M i lilication of the space within which are defined both his position iiiil Ins primary vision of his position, and positions opposed to it; i pi (iportionate to his capacity simultaneously to objectify the

i n intention of objectifying, to take a sovereign, absolute view of iln world, and especially of the world which he belongs to, and to excluding from scientific objectification everything that it mil In owe to the ambition to dominate by means of the weapons -I .1 icnce; hnally, it is proportionate to his capacity to orientate the , I Inn ol objectification towards the dispositions and interests which il" searcher himself owes to his trajectory and to his position and al'.n lowards his scientific practice, towards the presuppositions Imli tins entails in its concepts and problematics, and in all the 'In. il or political aims associated with the social interests inherent "i i position within the scientific field.26

W hen research comes to study the very realm within which it 'I" i Hes, the results which it obtains can be immediately reinvested

..... entilic work as instruments of reflexive knowledge of the

i iiiiihtions and the social limits of this work, which is one of the 11111 u i pa I weapons of epistemological vigilance. Indeed, perhaps we in iinly make our knowledge of the scientific field progress by


using whatever knowledge we may have available in order to discover and overcome the obstacles to science which are entailed by the fact of holding a determined position in the field. And not, as is so often the case, to reduce the reasons of our adversaries to causes, to social interests. We have every reason to think that the researcher has less to gain, as regards the scientific quality of his work, from looking into the interests of others, than from looking into his own interests, from understanding what he is motivated to see and not to see. And thus we can suggest, without any suspicion of moralizing, that scientific benefit could only be obtained in this case by renouncing social benefit, and particularly by resisting any tendency to use science or scientific effects to attempt to achieve a social triumph in the scientific field. Or, in other words, that we may well have some chance of contributing to the science of power if we renounce the attempt to turn science into an instrument of power, above all in the world of science.

Nietzschean genealogy, the Marxist critique of ideologies, the sociology of knowledge - all the perfectly legitimate procedures which tend to relate cultural productions to social interests - have usually been led astray as a result of the dual strategy deriving from the temptation to use the science of conflict in the conflict itself. This sort of illicit use of social science (or of the authority which it can bestow) finds an exemplary illustration, exemplary in its naivety, in an article where Raymond Boudon passes off as a scientific analysis of the intellectual field in France a denunciation of 'extra-scientific' success, which (barely) disguises its chauvinist plea, which amounts to making a virtue out of obscurity.27 A description which contains no critical reflection on the position from which it is articulated can have no other principle than the interests associated with the unanalysed relation that the researcher has with his object. Thus it is hardly surprising if the fundamental thesis of the article is nothing but a social strategy aiming to discredit the national hierarchy of celebrities by reproaching it with being purely French, that is linked to 'singularities' and particularities, automatically identified as anachronistic - harping on the theme of the literary turn of mind - and by taking this hierarchy, tacitly designated as different from the international hierarchy (the only scientific one), and therefore as extra- scientific, to compare it unfavourably with a hierarchy presumed scientific, because international, that is, American.28 Strikingly enough, this scientistic declaration receives not the slightest trace of empirical verification. For this would force us to admit, for instance, as we shall see, that an important fraction of the producers who dominate what, in hi article published some time ago,29 I called the restricted field or .nicted market (and which Raymond Boudon, forever concerned with ilie external trappings of scientific appearances, calls 'Market , without knowledging his source) are also the best known on the general |in>duction market, or to discover that the highest scores as regards Inicign translations or mentions in the Citation Index, which has nothing typically French about it, are generally obtained by the best-known sr.irchers in the most extra-scientific sectors of the national market - I'siept for the most traditional disciplines, like ancient history or in h.ieology, which are not as 'literary' as all that.

In constructing the finished, finite set of the properties which Inui i hi as effective forces in the struggle for specifically university pnwii, and which are possessed to diverse degrees by the set of 11 In live agents, the sociologist produces an objective space, defined in i methodical and unambiguous (and therefore reproducible) way, niil n reducible to the sum of all partial representations of agents. Iliu the 'objectivist' construction which is the condition of the Ini i with intuitive vision and with all hybrid discourse mingling

In vim concrete and the semi-constructed, the label and the concept, i 11 . what enables us to reintegrate into our knowledge of the n|i|n i the pre-scientific representations which are an integral part of 11 i ibjcct. We cannot in fact dissociate the intention to establish the inn lure of the university field, a space with several dimensions,

■ .Hinted on the basis of the whole set of the powers which can pltivr rlfective at any particular moment in competitive struggles,

....... I l ie intention to describe the logic of the struggles which derive

I" principle from this structure and aim to preserve or transform In tcdcfining the hierarchy of powers (and therefore of criteria). I . when it does not take the organized form of rivalry between lously militant or tacitly loyal groups, the struggle, whose

nil i i.i and the properties they imply are both end and means, is an mi hit i.ible fact which the researcher is bound to integrate into his i !i I ol reality instead of artificially attempting to exclude it by

...... . himself up as arbiter or as 'impartial observer', as a judge of

l i ippc.il who would alone be competent to produce the right order .Mi in reconcile everyone by finding a place for everything. He

..... I. in transcend the alternatives of the objectivist vision of objective

11 ilic.ition - of which the search for a single scale and for i iiiuul.iiive indices is a caricatural illustration - and the subjectivist "i, even better, perspectivist vision, which would settle for recording the diversity of hierarchies, treated as so many incommensurable viewpoints. In fact, like the social field taken as a whole, the university field is the locus of a classification struggle which, by working to preserve or transform the state of the power relations between the different criteria and between the different powers which they designate, helps create the classification, such as it may be objectively grasped at a given moment in time; but the representation which the agents have of the classification, and the force and the orientation of the strategies which they may deploy to maintain or subvert it, depend on their position in the objective classifications.30 Scientific work, therefore, aims to establish an adequate knowledge both of objective relations between the different positions and the necessary relations which are established, through the mediation of the systems of dispositions of their occupants, between these positions and the respective dispositions which they adopt, that is to say between the point occupied in the space and their viewpoint of that same space, which is part of reality and of the development of that space. In other words, the 'classification' produced by scientific work through the delineation of regions in the space of positions is the objective ground of the classificatory strategies through which the agents aim to preserve or modify the space. Among these strategies we must include the constitution of groups mobilized to ensure the defence of the interests of their members.

The need to integrate the two visions, objectivist and perspectivist, requiring us to work at attempting to objectify objectification, to create a theory of the effect of theory, is necessary for another, no doubt fundamental, reason, as much from the theoretical as from the ethical or political viewpoint: the scholarly construction of the 'objective' space of agents and of operative properties tends to replace a global and confused perception of the population of the 'powerful' with an analytic and reflexive perception, thus destroying the vagueness and the mist of imprecision and uncertainty which constitute our everyday world. To understand 'objectively' the world in which we live without understanding the logic of this understanding, and what differentiates it from practical understanding, is to prevent oneself from understanding what makes the world livable in and viable, that is to say the very vagueness of practical understanding. As in the case of the exchange of gifts, the objectivist approach, which is unaware of its own truth, denies the condition which makes practice possible, that is, a misconstrual of the model which would explain that practice. And only the satisfactions that a icductivist vision offers those of reductivist mood could lead us to lorget to introduce into the model of reality the distance between experience and the objectivist model, which corresponds to the truth ol experience as we know it.

There are no doubt few worlds which provide so much scope, or even so much institutional support, for the game of self-deceit and lor the gap between the representation experienced and the true position occupied in a social field or space; the tolerance granted to i his gap doubtless reveals the inner truth of a milieu which authorizes and encourages all forms of splitting the ego, in other words all ways <>l making the confusedly perceived objective truth coexist with its negation, thus permitting those most lacking in symbolic capital to survive in this struggle of each against all, where everyone depends on everyone else, at once his competitor and client, his opponent and judge, for the determination of his own truth and value, that is, of his symbolic life and death.31 For it is obvious that [hese individual systems of defence would hardly have any social clfcctiveness unless they met with the complicity of those who are led by their occupation of an identical or homologous position to recognize in these vital errors and illusions of survival the expression ol an effort to persevere in a social identity which they recognize as their own.

Many more or less institutionalized representations and practices i an indeed only be understood in terms of collective defence mechanisms through which the agents find a way to avoid the excessively harsh questioning that the rigorous application of their explicit criteria, such as those of science or erudition, would provoke. Thus it is that the multiplicity of scales of evaluation, scientific or administrative, academic or intellectual, offers a multiplicity of paths lo salvation and of forms of excellence, allowing everyone, with the complicity of everyone else, to disguise truths known to all.32 The scientific report should take account of the effect of vagueness which the indeterminacy of the criteria and the principles of hierarchization engender in objectivity itself: the indeterminacy, for instance,of criteria such as place of publication or the number of foreign colloquia or visiting lectures is due to the fact that there is, for each science, a complex and contentious hierarchy of reviews and publishers, of loreign countries and colloquia,and also that those who refuse to participate may appear difficult to distinguish from those who are not invited. In short, it would be a serious blow to objectivity not to write into the theory the objective imprecision of the hierarchies which the model, constructed on the basis of an (indispensable) survey of the indicators of scientific status, aims precisely to overcome. And we must ask ourselves if the very plurality of hierarchies, and the coexistence of practically incommensurate forces, scientific prestige and university power, internal recognition and external renown, are not the effect of a sort of anti-trust law both written into the structures and at the same time tacitly recognized as a protection against the consequences of a strict application of the norms officially professed.

We can see another instance of this in the paradoxical fact that this milieu which claims allegiance to science proposes practically no institutionalized signs of scientific prestige as such. No doubt we can invoke the Institute,33 and the gold medal of the CNRS,34 but the former distinction seems to consecrate politico-moral attitudes as much as scientific accomplishments, while the latter is absolutely exceptional. And it is in the same perspective, that is to say as a concession imposed by the need to subscribe to and insure against the specific risks of the profession of researcher, that we should interpret the tendency of so many scientific committees to function like bipartite committees, or the strategies familiar to occupants of subordinate positions inside the academic or scientific fields which consist in using the ability to universalize offered by political or trade-union rhetoric in order to treat homologies of position as identity of condition (in accordance, for instance, with the pattern of the 'three Ps', pere, patron, professeur [i.e. father, manager, professor], which was such a success in 1968) and thus to establish more or less strained identifications, in the name of the solidarity, which is never insignificant, of all the subordinates in all the fields, between positions and stances as far apart as those of the Renault car worker on the assembly line and the temporary researcher35 at the CNRS, between the struggle against accelerated production rhythms and the rejection of purely scientific criteria. We would also need to note methodically all the cases where politicization functions as a compensatory strategy allowing an escape from the specific laws of the academic or scientific market, for instance all forms of political criticism of scientific studies which allow scientifically outmoded producers to give themselves - and to give their peers - the illusion that they transcend what transcends them: the state of historical Marxism - such as it may be observed in the reality of the social uses which are made of it - would not be comprehensible if we failed to see that often, with all its references to the 'people' and the 'popular', it has that function of last resort which allows the least scientifically capable to set themselves up as scientific judges.


Date: 2015-01-29; view: 218


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