Reinventing Practice in a Disenchanted World: Bourdieu and Urban Poverty in Oaxaca, Mexico

By Cheleen Ann-Catherine Mahar | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
WORK, MONEY, AND DREAMS:
TRANSFORMING CAPITAL

INTRODUCTION: FIELDS, PRACTICE, AND CAPITALS

THIS CHAPTER EXPLORES THE WORLD of work and money, as well as the mechanism by which such structures influence the lives and identities of Colonia Hermosa residents. In the story that begins the chapter, Alejandro discusses his work history, how that history has unfolded, and how particular events have led him to his present situation. Alejandro's words give weight to the central theoretical argument of this book: that our lives are not simply a matter of chance, though chance has its place. Rather, we can claim that our lives are a product of our personal and family habitus, class habitus, and the structuring structures of economics, politics, and education within which we live. The social space of everyday practice can be likened to a series of social fields (Mahar 1990). In these fields there are positions of strength and weakness—as in a soccer game. In this game, players who have a feel for the game make better choices by virtue of their better placement and because of their doxic understanding of what choices mean in the game. In short, their strategies and their struggles for social and symbolic capital are more effective, better established in evidence and experience, and more likely to succeed than the alternatives. Such placements in the field are constituted in two central ways. First, they emerge from structural conditions, such as one's social class, and the possibilities, which are closed or opened up to some, but not to others. Second, we must examine the durable dispositions of individuals, one's [habitus,] which is constructed through the learning that goes on with family, friends, schooling, and the like.

In the story that Alejandro relates, we glimpse how both structure and agency play out in his life. There is an additional, third critical as-

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Reinventing Practice in a Disenchanted World: Bourdieu and Urban Poverty in Oaxaca, Mexico
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • To the Reader ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1- Colonia Life in Oaxaca 12
  • Chapter 2- Creating the Object of Study 27
  • Chapter 3- Consuelo's Story 40
  • Chapter 4- Place Andi Dentity 55
  • Chapter 5- Work, Money, and Dreams- Transforming Capital 89
  • Chapter 6- Social Capital as a Strategic Choice 111
  • Chapter 7- The Disenchanted World and the Question of Success 143
  • Chapter Summaries and Discussion Questions Forteachers and Students 154
  • Notes 161
  • Bibliography 167
  • Index 171
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