The symbolic capital of being a 'writer'
What kind of symbolic capital do writers have that bankers or lawyers or psychiatrists don’t have?
In what sense is writing a profession? . What, writers wonder, is the ambition to be a novelist an ambition to be?
Writers themselves, may want to ask whether their claims are sound or fraudulent.
an example of the self-assertiveness required by the modern man without (officially legitimated) qualities
i.e the professions, Doctors, Lawyers etc.
There was a time when people had a place and knew their place; and then there was a time, which we are still living in, when for various reasons they didn’t, when more and more people had to find a place in the world instead of simply inheriting one, when prestige was up for grabs.
The project of the modern, unmoored, displaced individual is to find his value in the eyes of other people, and to resent this. It is a predicament that breeds new forms of megalomania and new forms of servility. The whole notion of ambition, of what people might want for themselves, is transformed.
Trotter brings Bourdieu’s notion of symbolic capital into play.
It is his contention that the writers he talks about were acutely aware of all this because, as writers, they had a profession that wasn’t one. Their capital was symbolic, but there was no available certification. There was no institution – other than the market, which is a kind of counter-institution – to tell writers that they were the real thing. Paranoia was the self-cure for those who couldn’t take it, for all those modern and Modernist writers with substance anxiety. One is in a paranoid state of mind when one’s insignificance is unthinkable and this applies more to writers than to other 'professions'.
adapted from source http://www.lrb.co.uk/v25/n10/adam-phillips/hauteur