There is nothing more difficult to convey than reality in all its ordinariness. Flaubert was fond of saying that it takes a lot of hard work to portray mediocrity. Sociologists run into this problem all the time: How can we make the ordinary extraordinary and evoke ordinariness in such a way that people will see just how extraordinary it is? (Bourdieu 1998: 21)
Theology as Ordinary Human Data
When I first read Pierre Bourdieu's above comment on the surprising effort it takes to represent ordinariness as extraordinary, I was struck by the importance of his seemingly subtle point. It is important for three reasons. First, it takes seriously the insider's unreflective understanding of their own social worlds after all, the object of study throughout the human sciences is people simply doing what they happen to be doing. Second, Bourdieu helps scholars to focus their attention on the techniques whereby people represent a subset of their behaviors (i.e., what they happen to be doing) as important, meaningful, and worthy of reproduction and transmission (i.e., what they must or ought to be doing). Finally,... [continues]
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