The Weight of the World

The Weight of the World : Social Suffering and Impoverishment in Contemporary Society

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Confined in their governmental offices and with their eyes fixed on the opinion polls, politicians and state officials are all too often oblivious to the lives of their citizens. On the other hand, the ordinary men and women who have so much hardship in their lives, and so few means to make themselves heard, are obliged either to protest outside the official frameworks or remain locked in the silence of their despair.Under the direction of Pierre Bourdieu, a team of sociologists spent three years analysing the new forms of social suffering that characterize contemporary societies - the suffering of those who are denied the means of acquiring a socially dignified existence, as well as the suffering of those who are poorly adjusted to the rapidly changing social and economic conditions of their lives. Declining housing estates, the school, the family, street-level state services, the everyday world of social workers, teachers and policemen, factory workers and white-collar clerks, the universe of small farmers and artisans, of teachers and of the unemployed and partly employed: these are just some of the spaces where conflict occurs, where specific discriminations and recriminations, tensions and contradictions, abound and accumulate, and where new forms of suffering are produced and experienced by ordinary people in the course of their daily lives. This book can be read like a series of short stories - the story of a steel worker who was laid off after twenty years in the same factory and who now struggles to support his family on unemployment benefits and a part-time job: the story of a trade unionist who finds his goals undermined by the changing nature of work: the story of a family from Algeria living in a housing estate in the outskirts of Paris whose members have to cope with pervasive, everyday forms of racism: the story of a school teacher confronted with urban violence: and many others as well. Reading these stories enables one to understand these people's lives and the forms of social suffering which are part of them. And the reader will see that this book offers not only a distinctive method for analysing social life, but also another way of practising politics.The publication of this book was a major social and political event in France, where it topped the best-seller list and triggered a wide-ranging public debate on inequality, politics and social solidarity. It will be essential reading for all those - including social scientists, educators, social and political activists and ordinary citizens - who are concerned about the current state of contemporary societies.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 656 pages
  • 172 x 244mm | 1,257g
  • Polity Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • French
  • 0
  • 0745615929
  • 9780745615929

Table of contents

Translator's Preface. To The Reader: Pierre Bourdieu. The Space of Points of View: Pierre Bourdieu. Jonquil Street: Pierre Bourdieu. A Displaced Family: Abdelmalek Sayad. Everyone in a Place of their Own: Rosine Christin. The View from the Media: Patrick Champagne. The Order of Things: Pierre Bourdieu. An Integrated Family: Patrick Champagne. A Bad Investment: Gabrielle Balazs. Renovation: Gabrielle Balazs. The Last Difference: Patrick Champagne. Site Effects: Pierre Bourdieu. America as Social Dystopia: The Politics of Urban Disintegration: Loic Wacquant. Inside "The Zone": the Social Art of the Hustler in the American Ghetto: Loic Wacquant. Homeless in El Barrio: Philippe Bougois. The Abdication of the State: Pierre Bourdieu. An Impossible Mission: Pierre Bourdieu. Institutional Bad Faith: Pierre Bourdieu. Double Binds: Pierre Bourdieu and Gabrielle Balasz. The View from the State: Patrick Champagne. 'Costs' and 'Benefits' of Immigration: Abdelmalek Sayad. Disorder Amongst Agents of Order: Remi Lenoir. Woman and Cop: Remi Lenoir. A Living Reproach: Remi LenoirOn the Way Down. Permanent and Temporary Workers: Michel Pialoux and Stephane Beaud. The Old Worker and the New Plant: Michel Pialoux. The Temp's Dream: Stephane Beaud. Working Nights: Rosine Christin. Possession: Rosine Christin. The End of a World: Pierre Bourdieu. The Shop Steward's World in Disarray: Michel Pialoux. The Stolen Work: Sandrine Garcia. A Silent Witness: Rosine Christin. Such a Fragile Equilibrium: Pierre Bourdieu and Gabrielle Balazs. Hanging by a Thread: Pierre Bourdieu. A Life Wasted: Pierre Bourdieu. On the Way Down: Patrick Champagne. Broken Careers: Louis Pinto. Outcasts on the Inside: Pierre Bourdieu and Patrick Champagne. Those Were the Days: Pierre Bourdieu. Paradise Lost: Sylvain Broccolichi. Cogs in the Machine: Sylvain Broccolichi and Francoise Ouvrard. A Double Life: Rosine Christin. French Class: Rosine Christin. The Upper Hand: Sylvain Broccolichi. Institutional Violence: Gabrielle Balazs and Abdelmalek Sayad. The Contradictions of Inheritance: Pierre Bourdieu. Academic Destiny: Alain Accardo. A Compromising Success: Charles Soulie. The Spirit of Contradiction: Emmanuel Bourdieu and Denis Podalydes. Wife and Collaborator: Jean-Pierre Faguer. The Curse: Abdelmalek Sayad. Emancipation: Abdelmalek Sayad. The Sick Person as Object: Francois Bonvin. Solitude: Gabrielle Balazs. Understanding: Pierre Bourdieu. PostScriptum: Pierre Bourdieu. Glossary.show more

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124 ratings
4.08 out of 5 stars
5 44% (54)
4 30% (37)
3 20% (25)
2 4% (5)
1 2% (3)
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