M1: Unit 4: Chapter 7 – Conclusion

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Chapter 1: Introduction Chapter 5: Capital: are translators disinterested?
Chapter 2: Hamlet lives and sings in Arabic: Is that what Shakespeare really meant? Chapter 6: Habitus and trajectory: the agency of translators
Chapter 3: Translation as a field: rethinking ‘social context’ Chapter 7: Conclusion
Chapter 4: Positions: naming the foreign Chapter 8: Bibliography

Chapter 7: Conclusion

7.1 In this unit I tried to show how Bourdieu’s sociological approach can be useful in providing a fresh understanding of translation as both a social practice and a cultural product. My account of Bourdieu’s sociology is neither comprehensive nor impartial. I addressed only the concepts which I found pertinent to the case presented in chapter two.

7.2 Bourdieu’s sociological concepts are yet to be tested on other translation phenomena. Translation research published in English and based on his concepts has so far been limited to studying the translation of fiction (see Gouanvic 2002; 2005), interpreting (see Inghilleri 2003) and drama translation (see Hanna 2005). The implications of these concepts still need to be explored in connection with the translation of other literary genres and non-literary translation phenomena.

7.3 Although Bourdieu’s ideas are helpful in making us think differently about translation, they are not without their own problems. Perhaps the obvious one has to do with the overall ‘economistic’ vision in which these ideas are couched. For Bourdieu’s critics, this vision does in effect reduce the complexity of social action and cultural production into a set of mechanical metaphors that fail to attend to the nuanced reality of socio-cultural phenomena. Luckily, the remedy comes through another of Bourdieu’s concepts.Reflexivity, for Bourdieu, is a necessary tool for the sociologists of culture to maintain their awareness of the positioned nature of their knowledge of the world. In other words, Bourdieu’s ‘economistic’ vision of socio-cultural phenomena is itself conditioned by his habitus, his position in the field of sociology and the kinds of capital he aspired to accumulate. Thus, Bourdieu’s conceptual metaphors may be looked at as mere constructs, postulations about the socio-cultural world from a very specific perspective.

7.4 The future challenge for translation scholars with an interest in these concepts is to critically engage with them, explore their relevance to the current diversity of translation phenomena and think through the potential as well as the problems they present for translation research.