David Mamet’s Oleanna: A Bourdieusian Reading


Author(s): Hossein PIRNAJMUDDIN, Shima SHAHBAZI

David Mamet’s Oleanna addresses different notions such as power, hierarchy, education and language. According to Pierre Bourdieu, social agents compete for specific positions in a field and gain certain habitus (attitudes, dispositions, bodily hexis). In the process of socialization, agents struggle for different capitals (economical, cultural, social and symbolic) all of which lead to “power”. Oleanna set in the field of academia concerns the struggle of the members for cultural capital which leads to symbolic capital. The shift of power in the play is the outcome of the shift of symbolic capital. Other Bourdieusian issues namely bodily hexis, misrecognition, feminine capital and IQ racism are also related to Oleanna. This article is an attempt at shedding light on how in Mamet’s play linguistic, cultural, and symbolic capital lead to shift of power in different discourses. The aim is to argue for the relevance of Bourdieu, a great theorist of culture, in reading David Mamet, a playwright preoccupied with contemporary American culture and its roots.


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