Capital, Power, and Habitus: How Does Bourdieu Speak to the Tenure Process in Universities?


  • Carla Digiorgio University of Prince Edward Island



This paper uses sociologist Pierre Bourdieu's theory of social structure (1986, 1990a, 1990b, 1991 , 1995, 1998) to better understand the concept of tenure and the relationships that contribute to a conflicted experience for many. Social structures reproduce themselves according to the rules of the field, and various forms of social, cultural, and symbolic capital, underlined by economic capital. are traded by individuals who each have a sense of their value in the system, or habitus. Aspects of the tenure process reflect the rules of the field of academia, excluding those academics (Bonner, 2004; Connell & Savage, 2001). The process of tenure is subjective and can exclude those who are most worthy (Batterbury, 2008; Benton, 2007). A glut of professors can reinforce the status quo and challenge it (Bourdieu, 1988) . Recommendations are made to improve the inherent biases and conflicts within the process.