Masculine domination is so deeply ingrained in our unconscious that we hardly perceive all of its dimensions. It is so much in line with our expectations that we struggle to call it fully into question. Pierre Bourdieu's ethnographic analysis of gender divisions in Kabyle society, as a living reservoir of the Mediterranean cultural tradition, provides a potent instrument for disclosing the symbolic structures of the androcentric unconscious which survives in the men and women of our own societies.
Bourdieu analyses masculine domination as a paradigmatic form of symbolic violence - the kind of gentle, invisible, pervasive violence which is exercised through cognition and misrecognition, knowledge and sentiment, often with the unwitting consent of the dominated. To understand this form of domination we must analyse both its invariant features and the historical work of dehistoricization through which social institutions - family, school, church, state - eternalize the arbitrary at the root of men's power. This analysis leads directly to the political question: can we neutralize the mechanisms through which history is continuously turned into nature, thereby freeing the forces of change and accelerating the incipient transformations of the relations between the sexes?
This new book by Pierre Bourdieu - which has been a bestseller in France - will be essential reading for students and scholars across the social sciences and humanities and for anyone concerned with questions of gender, sexuality and power.