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The radical ambiguity at the heart of Pierre Bourdieu’s critique of journalism

Harrison, S (2022) The radical ambiguity at the heart of Pierre Bourdieu’s critique of journalism. SN Social Sciences, 2.

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The influence of media theorist and sociologist of the journalistic field Pierre Bourdieu has been widespread since his death in 2002 yet his relationship with journalism was at best an ambivalent one. On the one hand, he acknowledged journalism’s primary role in shaping public discourse, and his ideas have spurred on journalism researchers and writers. On the other, he authored a best-selling polemic which offered a withering analysis of what he saw as television’s malign influence over not only journalism but cultural production as a whole. Through a close reading of key texts, this paper identifies an underlying ambiguity within Bourdieu’s writings regarding the status and legitimacy of journalism. It argues that this ambiguity produces theoretical effects which work against – or at least outside – the self-declared aims of field theory to provide the tools for an objective critique of journalism by smuggling into the theory terms which are value-laden. Finally, some of the epistemological and ontological grounds on which Bourdieu’s thought has been labelled as reductionist are considered. This fresh perspective helps to re-contextualise Bourdieu’s important contribution to journalism studies.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Field theory; symbolic capital; Pierre Bourdieu; habitus; journalism
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN4699 Journalism
Divisions: Screen School
Publisher: Springer Nature
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 30 Aug 2022 13:21
Last Modified: 30 Aug 2022 13:21
DOI or ID number: 10.1007/s43545-022-00485-7
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/17454
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