ABSTRACT

An analysis of whom we choose to remember reveals the underlying social determinants for the celebration of individual distinction or symbolic capital. Thus the question of who is selected for certain key national newspapers is considered systematically in this chapter, with particular reference to their social origins, educational backgrounds and nationality. Our starting point for this analysis is infl uenced particularly by Bourdieu’s work on closure (or class ossifi cation) over generations. Like him, we accept that sociology ‘obliges’ the truths of power relations to come into the open (Bourdieu and Passeron 1990: xxi). Like him, we fi nd obituaries socially illuminating and share his acute perception of the seductions of such accolades, those ‘symbolic baubles’, as Napoleon called them (Bourdieu 2000a).