Chicago School Economist Becker and Judge Posner blog that the majority of minimum wage earners are wives earning pin money, part-timers, retirees supplementing incomes, teenagers getting work experience (References svp). Raising minimum wage will hurt the “really” poor. Is this Freakonomics? Friedman’s long shadow darkens future of most vulnerable

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Digg works! Over 340 people added comments to the Chicago School Economist Becker and Judge Posner blog entry. This is robust conversation at its peak! This is a hot spot of emotion for many Americans. I’m not sure if any Canadians responded. Each entry has its own value. No would could yell so my living room/office remained quiet except for the fireplace as I scrolled through them all. There were enough people who added references for those of us who like informed, nuanced dialogue. Even the cognitive certitude of the academic economists who simply declared their one-sentence truth statements in excellent form, then left, added an element to the discussion. It reminded me of Bourdieu’s (1988) Homo Academicus or his Academic discourse : linguistic misunderstanding and professorial power (1994).

I particularly enjoyed the clever digg, a parody of my own headlines playing with the term disemployed. Of course ‘disemployed’ is the term the Noble Peace Prize winning economist Becker used so I simply borrowed from him.

It is very confusing to read the comments. It’s like trying to msn with a group. Responses overlap and it makes no sense when read in a linear fashion. Does this mean we will all have to learn to read and therefore think in a nonlinear way referring to tags or in this case usernames?


There is an urgent need to challenge supposedly self-evident truth claims assigned with high levels of legitimacy and authority, generated from within a high status academic discipline or/or institution. History of scientific knowledge reveals that knowers may be hiding behind deliberate obfuscation, insider jargon and complex formula that cannot, in effect, be converted to real world phenomena .

Bourdieu (1994) argued that in fact academics nurtured linguistic misunderstanding to maintain higher levels of academic and social capital. In the ‘Introduction’ (Bourdieu and Passeron 1994:11) of Academic discourse: linguistic misunderstanding and professorial power, Pierre Bourdieu compared the academic at his rostrum to Deus Absconditus (Bourdieu, Passeron, and Martin 1994:11) In this critical examination of the role of academics in the French tradition based on a 1960s study which he claimed was still relevant in the 1990s he argued that academics claim knowledge and power from the safe distance of the rostrum (Bourdieu and Passeron 1994:11). Even the intimidating architecture and décor of the ideal lecture room and gallery served to inspire awe and an almost sacred respect. Academics maintain an ontological, epistemological, pedagogical and embodied distance through the use of text which serves as a tool of distantiation filtering out all but those who are best suited to become their progeniture.

I am searching for the description of the ideal academic classroom envisioned by a first year student and cited by Bourdieu in one of his publications. For now this will do,

It is in all its peculiarities in which the academic institution locates the teacher–the rostrum, the chair from which a French professor holds forth, his position at the point where all attention converges–that he finds the material conditions to keep his students at a distance, to require and enforce respect, even when, left to himself, we would decline it. Physically elevated and enclosed within the magistral chair which consecrates him, he is separated from his audience by a few empty rows. These physically mark off the distance which the profane crowd, silent before the mana of the word, timorously respects and abandons to the most well-trained zealots, pious lesser priests of the professorial word. Deus Absconditus, remote and untouchable, protected by obscure and alarming spiritual ‘authorities’ (so many mythologies to him), the professor is in fact condemned by an objective situation more coercive than the most imperious regulation to dramatic monologue and virtuoso exhibition (Bourdieu 1994:10).

A Selected Bibliography

Bourdieu, Pierre & Passeron, Jean-Claude (1994) Introduction: Language and Relationship to Language in the Teaching Situation. IN Bourdieu, Pierre, Passeron, Jean-Claude & Martin, Monique De Saint (Eds.) Academic discourse: linguistic misunderstanding and professorial power. Stanford, California, Stanford University Press