Blog post by Heather Mew
In November 2016 I was lucky enough to be awarded a travel bursary and free place to attend a BSA Bourdieu Study Group event entitled Bourdieu, Aesthetics and the Body. The event was a stimulating day of discussions about the myriad of ways that Bourdieu’s theories can be applied to research within the social sciences, from the study of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to understanding the classed nature of fake tans. The presentations helped introduce me to concepts such as habitus and hexis, something which I was previously unfamiliar with, and gave me food for thought with regards to my own PhD applications.
Inclusiveness and discussion were key aspects of BSA Bourdieu, Aesthetics and the Body, and the event organisers provided a space which facilitated open and critical discussion around the presentations. Ideas were shared on a variety of themes, from the classed nature of beautification and bridal shop industries, to the ableist design of architecture which does not account for disabled bodies. One paper explored the potential for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to become a space for the creation of new habitus, whilst another focussed on working class masculinity and the ways in which our bodies can be read and misread. The central theme throughout all of the papers was the body – how do bodies present themselves, how are bodies interpreted, and who has the power and privilege to make judgements about others bodies?
My own research interests are concerned with how working class communities in the North East of England experience austerity and inequality, and how these communities might be resisting against this. In the wake of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, both of which have been heralded as (white) working class protest votes, it is vitally important to understand how working class communities are resisting, and against what.
Whilst I am relatively new to Bourdieu, my PhD applications draw heavily upon the works of Bev Skeggs and Lisa McKenzie, both of which have utilised Bourdieu’s theories to understand the experiences of working class communities in Manchester and Nottingham, respectively. I recently bought myself a copy of Distinction, a sociological Christmas treat from me to me, and I look forward to engaging with Bourdieu’s theories first hand.
Inclusiveness within academia is an issue close to my heart, and I believe that offering bursaries to unwaged or low waged people is a vital step in making academia more inclusive to working class academics, such as myself.
I would like to once again thank the event organisers for this opportunity to critically engage with discussions around Bourdieu, Aesthetics and the Body.
Heather Mew is currently applying to do a PhD looking at resistance to austerity and inequality amongst working class communities in the North East of England. She completed her MA in Geography Research Methods at Durham University, and her undergraduate degree in Human Geography at Queen Mary University of London.
For more information on the Bourdieu Study Group Travel Bursary and Free Place Scheme, please see here.