[SOLUTION] Forms of Capital

Question #1: In “Forms of Capital”, Bourdieu figuratively throws down the gauntlet towards much of our standard economic thinking.  In his discussions, he roundly criticized the idea of homo economicus, or the economic human (preference based, utility maximizing, rational choice, etc.), for presenting an unrealistic view of human behavior.  This may seem to be a minor academic squabble but given the amount of attention standard economic models have received in guiding public and economic policy, Bourdieu is legitimately concerned about the degree to which the adoption of standard economic views serves to obfuscate systems of entrenched social classes.  How compelling do you find this critique, and how important do you believe such academic assumptions are for the “real world”?Question #2: The concept of the “Iron Cage of Rationality” has achieved not only ubiquitous recognition in the social sciences but has also entered non-sociological discussions, whether in other disciplines or in the popular press. It’s evocative imagery, that of humanity’s efforts to limit themselves through the processes of formal rationality, has proven to be a powerful metaphor to describe the lived experiences of modernity.  This phrase “Iron Cage” emerged as a translation of Stahlhartes Gehäuse in the English edition of The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, as translated by the sociologist Talcott Parsons.  However, other scholars have suggested that the above phrase should be translated as “Shell as Hard as Steel”, rather than “Iron Cage”. Of the two translations, which do you think is more appropriate to describe Weber’s concerns of formal rationality? Or is the metaphor the same regardless of our translation?

 

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