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“mother tongue”, but also the “spiritual mother” and/or “godmother”
) discourse;
2) inheriting along the lines of“secondary socialization”through the influence of educational
and other institutions (See Berger and Luckmann 1966). This is a type of inheritance which can be
inherited from the perspective of the effects of normalization and symbolic coercion exercised,
on the one hand, by the official discourse – mostly through the School, which for Bourdieu
means educational institutions functioning as “a brutal and powerful
reality principle
” (1999: 507),
insofar as they accomplish the “prescriptions” of the State. On the other hand, this also happens
at the level of multiple informal everyday discourses which, in the form of labeling, branding,
ostracization and other similar performative forms entailing a logic of accusations, praises, offenses
or justifications, “co-operate” in the realization of “becoming that which you are” as an individual
fate and responsibility.
In both cases of inheriting, the discourse (that of the parent or that of the official power and
of the informal judgements) always institutes and points out essences or competences attributed
to the inheritor. In this way, what is enforced is a“
to existence, which is also a
for existence
(or to exist)”, to employ Bourdieu again. This means that the “indicative” (the indication which the
respectivediscourseof inheritancegives to the inheritor about“what”he is) becomes an“imperative”
(an order to become and behave in accordance with“this”). As a result, we face the confirmation of a
“border”and the instituted personality“does that which he is supposed to do according
to its essence”, i.e. according to the thus attributed
right/duty for existence-as-inheritor
. This is why
Become what you are
”, i.e. the social essence, understood in its particular duality of simultaneous
attribution/imposition, is the“formula” for every identity underlying the performative magic of acts
of instituting and is in this way “in a true sense
”, to slightly paraphrase Bourdieu. In this sense
to inherit one’s social position, becoming “that what you are” appears to be your destiny. From
all this arises the really important question I will be seeking an answer to when discussing the
empirical cases below: can this social fate which is internalized as an individual fate be altered, i.e.
can the agent “outsmart” the mechanism of normalization and cut himself lose from its noose?
Therefore, it is important to trace at the microscopic level the
discursive practice of
“bestowing” inheritance
When passing on “inheritance” parents ensure the suitable habitat and opportunities for
realization of suitable biographical and life chances (cf. Penkova 2011, 2012), which allow the
“happening” of the passing along of inheritance (economic, cultural, political, religious, social and
so on and so forth). If the person onto whom inheritance is “bestowed”, “accepts” it, then certain
shared evidence for the “continuation” of the game is formed, i.e. what is formed is a particular
for constructing a successful biographical trajectory. This initially private experience – as far
as it is acquired as a result of primary socialization in the family – will be normalized and shaped
accordingly upon school entry and in the process of the so-called secondary socialization. The
11 To study the role of the “
spiritual father
” (see the interview tih S. K.) or of the “
spiritual mother
” – since I
encountered such an empirical case during our field work among the Thracian refugees in Tzarevo where the“spiritual
mother” formally becomes a“godmother” to her “inheritor”and ensures him suitable habitat as well as an opportunity
for realizing his “true” (from the point of view of Thracian inheritance) biographical and life chances, see further
Penkova 2011 – is very interesting in itself, but for the time being it is simply signposted.