Abolish the (social) distance? A platform of Ouistreham by Florence Aubenas in the light of Pierre Bourdieu

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Abstract

This article assesses Florence Aubenas's work of "immersion journalism" Le Quai d'Ouistreham in the light of Pierre Bourdieu's methods of investigation. The point is to find out whether the journalist's immersion in joblessness has the hallmarks of good fieldwork. It is true that the book provokes a radical change of mind in readers about the lives of the working poor, and this is a sign of a successful testimony. However, some crucial elements of the "reflexivite reflexe" recommended by Bourdieu are missing, such as the researcher's self-analysis in terms of her own social position compared with the subjects under observation. Aubenas bridges the social distance between her subjects, devoid of economic and social capital, and herself by adopting a temporary role as a cleaning lady doing her "hours", but she remains an intellectual with advantages she doesn't even realize she has. These are the strength and the weakness of immersion journalism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-108
Number of pages15
JournalAustralian Journal of French Studies
Volume53
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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social distance
journalism
social position
intellectual
testimony
journalist
social capital
economics
Pierre Bourdieu
Immersion
Social Distance
Journalism

Cite this

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title = "Abolish the (social) distance? A platform of Ouistreham by Florence Aubenas in the light of Pierre Bourdieu",
abstract = "This article assesses Florence Aubenas's work of {"}immersion journalism{"} Le Quai d'Ouistreham in the light of Pierre Bourdieu's methods of investigation. The point is to find out whether the journalist's immersion in joblessness has the hallmarks of good fieldwork. It is true that the book provokes a radical change of mind in readers about the lives of the working poor, and this is a sign of a successful testimony. However, some crucial elements of the {"}reflexivite reflexe{"} recommended by Bourdieu are missing, such as the researcher's self-analysis in terms of her own social position compared with the subjects under observation. Aubenas bridges the social distance between her subjects, devoid of economic and social capital, and herself by adopting a temporary role as a cleaning lady doing her {"}hours{"}, but she remains an intellectual with advantages she doesn't even realize she has. These are the strength and the weakness of immersion journalism.",
author = "Helene Jaccomard",
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AB - This article assesses Florence Aubenas's work of "immersion journalism" Le Quai d'Ouistreham in the light of Pierre Bourdieu's methods of investigation. The point is to find out whether the journalist's immersion in joblessness has the hallmarks of good fieldwork. It is true that the book provokes a radical change of mind in readers about the lives of the working poor, and this is a sign of a successful testimony. However, some crucial elements of the "reflexivite reflexe" recommended by Bourdieu are missing, such as the researcher's self-analysis in terms of her own social position compared with the subjects under observation. Aubenas bridges the social distance between her subjects, devoid of economic and social capital, and herself by adopting a temporary role as a cleaning lady doing her "hours", but she remains an intellectual with advantages she doesn't even realize she has. These are the strength and the weakness of immersion journalism.

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