In this major work, Bourdieu examines the distinctive forms of power -- political, intellectual, bureaucratic and economic -- by means of which contemporary societies are governed. What kinds of competence are claimed by the bureaucrats and technocrats who administer our societies? And how do those who govern come to gain the recognition of those who are governed by them? Bourdieu examines in detail the work of consecration which is carried out by the educational system -- and especially in France by the grandes ecoles. The work of consecration can be seen in operation in different historical periods, whenever a nobility is produced. Today the socially recognized groups function according to a logic similar to that which characterized the divisions between high and low in the ancien regime. Today this state nobility is the heir -- structural and sometimes even genealogical -- of the noblesse de robe which, in order to consolidate its position in relation to other forms of power, had to construct the modern state and the republican myths, meritocracy and civil service which went along with it.
Bourdieu examines the mechanisms which produce the kind of nobility displayed by those who govern, and the recognition granted to them by those who are governed by them.