In todays class we considered the work of Pierre Bourdieu, a French philosopher who works on ideas of social behaviours and occurrences and how these relate to the idea of having a cultural capital. His writings are complex and extensive and required a huge amount of “decoding” to unpick the key ideas that are suggested.
He takes much of his influences from the work of Karl Marx, a communist left wing philosopher who heavily considered ideas of social hierarchy. In Bourdieu’s theories he suggests that “the more capital one has the more powerful a position one occupies in social life” (Routledge, 2016). The term ‘capital’ as described on dictionary.com is “wealth in the form of money or other assets”. For Bourdieu’s theories this wealth can come in the form of knowledge, cultural exposure, financial or symbolic elements such as tastes, skills, clothes and mannerisms. All of these choices we make in our lives to enrich our capital ultimately determines our position within society.
We can then come onto the idea that our capital allows us to create collective identities because we associate with “people like us”. Whilst we like to share our ideas, emotions and situations with people that we can identify with, it poses the possibility for social inequality as certain capitals are valued higher in society than others. Capitals are uniting but also distinctive.
Bourdieu poses two ideas that encompass what makes up our capital. The first being habitus, which he describes as “the feel for the game”. These are the habits, skills and dispositions that we have gained through life experiences and as a result of these we are capable of successfully excelling in social situations where we had previous experience and have, therefore, gained the necessary skills. In a none philosophical understanding, people refer to this as ‘natural’, that people are simply born with these attributes and that it is ‘instinct’. However, Bourdieu will argue that it is only because of life experiences that we have been able to gain the appropriate habitus for these situations.
The second idea is fields. This is the game itself. The practices that our habitus allow us to fall into and the areas that develop certain habitus. Fields are entered by an individual with the want to challenge current rules and knowledge to struggle for position and play to win, meaning that fields become autonomous and try to over throw one another.
So, how does this all relate to the branding world? Well if a brand is able to understand the field and habitus of its ideal consumer they can tailor the marketing campaign for the products or the whole brand to specifically target the desired customers. In turn this will then result in a positive response from the buyer as the product is ultimately right for them and create mindshare (as discussed in the previous post). As a workshop we were asked to create a poster which defined ourselves as a brand and ultimately highlighted our habitus and field which we fit into.