La production de l'idéologie dominante

ЗаголовокLa production de l'idéologie dominante
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1976
AuthorsBoltanski, L, Bourdieu, P
JournalActes de la recherche en sciences sociales
Publication Languageeng

The production of the dominant ideology. This article consists of group of documents and analyses which treat single subject from different perspectives : the social philosophy predominant among those who occupy positions of power. This new "dominant ideology" is considered simultaneously as product and as mode of production. 1) The Encyclopedia of Received Opinions. Here the commonplaces current in the places of power are presented in the form of an encyclopedia or dictionary. Each entry, corresponding to one of the key words of this ideology, comprises one or several citations taken from one or another of the analyzed works which may be either individual or collective. {(The} corpus of works cited was established by procedure which took into account both membership of the authors in certain official institutions and the frequency of intercitations.) 2) The Royal Science and the Fatalism of the Probable. The analysis of these texts allows us to discern the principal schemes giving rise to the language spoken by the holders of power : involving the opposition between the "past" and the"future", the "blocked" and the "open", the "small" and the "great", the "immobile" and the "mobile", "stagnation" and "growth", etc. Each of these fundamental oppositions evokes, more or less directly, all the others, and the evolutionist scheme they express can be applied to everything from the crisis of winegrowers in southern France to social science research. But the most directly political consequence of this cardinal opposition becomes apparent when the new system of classification is applied to the opposition between the right and left, with the result that this fundamental opposition of the political field is declared to be "surpassed". According to this way of thinking, "socialism" and "syndicalism" are on the same side as the "immobile" and the "blocked". They are "archaisms" belonging to the "past", just like their symmetrically arranged counterparts "fascism" and "parliamentarism". The optimistic evolutionism of reconverted conservatism (variants of which can be found in the universities) is the product of the same scheme as the pessimism of openly avowed conservatism, whose hierarchy it simply inverts. Against the pessimistic philosophy of the declining sections of the bourgeoisie, the new social philosophy affirms its faith in the future and, first of all, in the future of science and technology. It sacrificies the old conservative ideologies to forward-looking ideology suited to social universe in the midst of expansion. Progressive conservatism, a seemingly contradictory combination, is supported by section of the dominant class which holds as an objective law that which in fact constitutes the objective law of its own perpetuation, namely, that one must change in order to preserve. Reconverted conservatism is distinguished from the old conservatism in that it wants the inevitable to occur. The inevitable : on the one hand, this is what among the various futures which could be realized given the current social structures conforms to the interest of the dominant class and which is helped on its way by being presented as inevitable ; on the other hand, it is what must be let go of in any case in order to avoid that which must be avoided at all cost, the subversion of the established order, a possibility which is also inscribed in the laws of historical evolution. The new group of leaders is informed, and, above all, about its history : it invokes historical precedents and the lessons of the past, not as means of legitimating itself, however, but in order to avoid previous errors. Political history functions as a method of perceiving political actions and is transformed into an intellectual scheme capable of dealing with them in their current setting. Take, for example, a purely rhetorical scheme, like the one taught explicitly at {"Sciences} Po" (the Institut Etudes Politiques de Paris), which opposes two extreme positions -for example dirgism and liberalism or parliamentarism and fascism- in order to surpass them by "r ising the level of debate". Such scheme functions as matrix of ways of talking and of acting applicable everywhere because it reproduces the double exclusion of the conservative rear-guard and the progressive avant-garde. And it is this exclusion which constitutes the definition of enlightened conservatism. Rhetoric contains a politics because it contains a history. But history's most important lesson is the discovery that one can no longer expect anything from history : the universe of possible political regimes (modes of domination) is exhausted. The fatalism inherent in the ideology of the end of ideology is the hidden condition of scientistic use of statistical forecasting and economic analysis. Neither science nor phantasm, the language of the dominant groups is political language, that is to say, a language of great potency, which, although not true, is capable of making things come true. To escape from idealism it is not enough to speak of the "dominant ideology" ; the analysis must trace the metamorphoses which transform the language of dominance into a working tool. For this language is only the accompaniment of a politics, a self-fulfilling prophecy which contributes to its own realization because those who produce it have an interest in its truth and possess the means of making it come true. 3) Neutral Places and Commonplaces. Reconverted conservatism is the product of ideological reconversion strategies that the avant-garde of the dominant class attempts to impose on the other sections of this class by establishing a new mode of production of the dominant way of talking about the social world. The small handicraft producer has been supplanted by a collective enterprise assembling, in organized confrontations (colloquia, commissions, committees, etc.), people who occupy -often simultaneously- widely differing positions in the field of the dominant class. The illusion of objectivity produced by neutral places results essentially from the eclectic structure of the groups assembled in them. The neutral language in evidence on such occasions arises "naturally" from the confrontation of individuals belonging to different groups. There has been a marked increase in the number of institutions of this type, charged with organizing the work that the dominant class must perform upon itself in order to secure the required collective conversion and reconversion. This is the reason for the development of institutions for economic research directly subordinated to the needs of the bureaucracy, of institutes of public opinion, and of schools designed to train future leaders, where the language of the dominant class is submitted to a rationalization requiring rationalized instruction. {(These} two schools are roughly equivalent to, say, the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and the Kennedy School of Public Administration at Harvard University, and, to a lesser degree, to the London School of Economics). Veritable neutral places bringing together enlightened leaders and realistic intellectuals, such schools legi-timate the thought categories and ways of acting developed by advanced sections of the dominant class. They transmit to future leaders the experience accumulated by the dominant class in the course of historical conflicts. In the production of the language of the dominant groups, it is impossible to distinguish what pertains to production from what pertains to circulation : the most specifie properties of the product, namely the ensemble of unexamined presuppositions and the collective belief accorded them, are produced in and through the circulation process. The hidden structure of the field of production makes it the site of a circular circulation capable of generating a certain self-confirmation and self-reinforcement. This false circulation engenders collective belief by establishing a sort of prophetie chain in which each one preaches to the converted, who in turn will preach, without seeming to do so, to others who are also already converted.

Short TitleLa production de l'idéologie dominante