Monday, October 11, 2010

Pierre Bourdieu Speaks My Language

To those of you who sent kind words of encouragement after my rather flustered thesis post last Friday: Thank you, your thoughts and prayers were much appreciated.

It's Monday. And you know what that means....the craziness starts all over again!  I must say that this weekend I've taken more time off from the books than I have in months. Breakfasting with girl friends on Saturday, kayaking away the beautiful 85-degree afternoon, church and brunch with friends on Sunday, exploring a new park, and then gallivanting around a backyard campfire until 2 am...I'd say I've more than made up for the last few months of seven-day workweeks.


I'm really trying to care less about some classes while still maintaining good grades....I know this sounds counterintuitive, but there are some things that I should strive less to do well in (and devote the time saved there to bigger pursuits, like my thesis, which is currently a low priority since the deadline - at approx. 20 months away - isn't as urgent as the 2-pager due this week).  Example: I was stressing out about a 7-page marketing paper that crept up on me about two weeks ago.  I took great care to make sure it was super quality work and very well cited with statistics and quotations that supported my argument. Even then, after I turned in the paper I realized that I hadn't really stuck to the prompt, and was concerned about getting a zero for not following instructions.  When I got the paper back, with a nice little "100 - Very Good!" in the top corner, a guy sitting behind me definitely said, "Shirah, why do you even worry? This isn't an honors class! Plus you're going to skew the bell curve.  You would save so much time if you just learned to work the system."

The words "work the system" resounded in my head for several minutes and took me back to the library at North Medford High School, where a dear friend Garrett had given me the same exact advice as a 9th grader.  I used to take notes while researching, then hand-write a rough draft, then type it up....all for the 2-page paper that was due weekly in our history course. Garrett was right when he said I was putting out a ridiculous amount of effort.  Compared to him, I was. He would literally walk into the library at the beginning of our free period, sit down at a computer an hour before class, copy and paste some notes into a Word doc, rearrange/rewrite some words to avoid plagiarizing, print it out, and get an A every time. I was mystified by his mysterious talent.  I definitely haven't made this method my standard, but I have taken to heart some of his practices....like composing the essay on the screen instead of on paper.  (I want to do a study on how one's choice of writing utensil -- computer vs. pen/paper - changes our thought processes as well as the way in which we express ourselves in writing...but I'll have to save this for another blog post.)


So yes, I'm revisiting the days of old and relearning how to "work the system"....just a little. :) 


Tonight I found a really neat quote by Pierre Bourdieu, twentieth century French sociological pioneer.  He happens to specialize in social, symbolic, and cultural capital -- the underlying philosophies of my thesis.  This quote comes from the last paragraph of his introduction to his book
Distinction: A social critique of the judgment of taste. 

Bourdieu says, 

"there is nothing more universal than the project of objectifying the mental structures associated with the particularity of a social structure."

This is what I'm trying to do!  I'm bringing objective constructs to the mental process (structure) of forming entrepreneurial intent, as it is associated with the prospective entrepreneur's social structure (social capital).  And Bourdieu expresses it with such finesse!

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