Archive for December 2009

Bourdieu’s Unfinished Agenda: A “Social Europe”

December 2, 2009

In honor of the Treaty of Lisbon going into effect this week, here are some thoughts from Pierre Bourdieu on Europe:

“Social history teaches us that there is no social policy without a social movement capable of imposing it and that it was not the market, as some would have us believe today, but the labor movement that ‘civilized’ the market economy while greatly contributing to its effectiveness. Consequently, for all those who genuinely wish to oppose a social Europe to the Europe of the banks and money…the question is how to mobilize the forces capable of achieving that end and which bodies to call on to carry out this work of mobilization.” (Bourdieu, Firing Back, 56)

“But an objective as visibly utopian as the construction of a unified European trade union confederation remains indispensable. … There is no task more urgent than the invention of novel ways of thinking and acting forced upon us by the casualization of employment. Generalized precariousness, which is the basis of a new form of social discipline generated by job insecurity and the fear of unemployment, which now affect even the best placed workers, can be the basis for solidarities of a new kind, both in scope and in principle.” (Bourdieu, Firing Back, 61)

“In conclusion, therefore, I need only formulate the question which ought to be at the centre of any reasoned utopia concerning Europe: how do we create a really European Europe, one that is free from all dependence on any of the imperialisms—starting with the imperialism that affects cultural production and distribution in particular, via commercial constraints—and also liberated from all the national and nationalist residues that still prevent Europe from accumulating, augmenting and distributing all that is most universal in the tradition of each of its component nations?” (Bourdieu, “A Reasoned Utopia and Economic Fatalism,” 129-130, link)