Pierre Bourdieu: Key Concepts

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This item has been added to your basket View basket Checkout. Your local Waterstones may have stock of this item. View other formats and editions. Reviews of the first edition: "This collection is highly admirable for its clarity and thoroughness, and should be of great interest to anthropologists and others who are new to, or familiar with, Bourdieu's oeuvre. Added to basket. Social theory for beginners.

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Paul Ransome. Simone Weil: An Anthology. Simone Weil. The Social Construction of Reality. Peter L.

Pierre Bourdieu

Classical Sociological Theory. Craig Calhoun. Social Theory: Ideas in Profile. William Outhwaite. Richard H. The Sane Society. Erich Fromm. The Philosophy of Social Science.

Bourdieu regards this ease, or natural ability—distinction—as in fact the product of a great social labor, largely on the part of the parents. It equips their children with the dispositions of manner as well as thought which ensure they are able to succeed within the educational system and can then reproduce their parents' class position in the wider social system.

Habitus | Social Theory Rewired

Cultural capital for example, competencies, skills, qualifications can also be a source of misrecognition and symbolic violence. Therefore, working class children can come to see the educational success of their middle-class peers as always legitimate, seeing what is often class-based inequality as instead the result of hard work or even "natural" ability.

A key part of this process is the transformation of people's symbolic or economic inheritance e. Bourdieu insisted on the importance of a reflexive sociology , in which sociologists must at all times conduct their research with conscious attention to the effects of their own position, their own set of internalized structures, and how these are likely to distort or prejudice their objectivity.


The sociologist, according to Bourdieu, must engage in a "sociology of sociology" so as not to unwittingly attribute the object of observation the characteristics of the subject. One must be cognizant of their own social positions within a field and recognize the conditions that both structure and make possible discourses, theories, and observations.

A sociologist, therefore, must be aware of his or her own stakes and interests in the academic or sociological field and render explicit the conditions and structures of understanding that are implicitly imbued in his or her practices within those fields. Bourdieu's conception of reflexivity, however, is not singular or narcissistic, but must involve the contribution of the entire sociological field. Sociological reflexivity is a collective endeavor, spanning the entire field and its participants, aimed at exposing the socially conditioned, subconscious structures that underlay the formulation of theories and perceptions of the social world.

Bourdieu asserted that there are specific social conditions of existence of a scientific field. Bourdieu's ideal scientific field is one that persistently designates upon its participants an interest or investment in objectivity. Bourdieu combined a structuralist framework with close attention to subjectivity in social context. A key relationship in bridging objectivism and subjectivism in social research, for Bourdieu, is that between habitus and field via practices. To study the subjective-objective nature of social practices, the researcher may take on the perspectives of both research subject and observer in kind of double participant observation, which combines the objective study of the world with reflexive knowledge of the subject s of the study.

The double objectification in his method is described by Jenkins :. First, there is the work done in the act of observation and the objectification or distortion of social reality which it is likely to produce.

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  5. In Bourdieu's focus on practices and habitus, they are neither objectively determined nor products of free will. Fields are sets of relations in the world. Through practices, fields condition habitus and habitus inform fields. Practices mediate between the inside and outside. But, habitus cannot be directly observed. In Bourdieu's theory, agency is not directly observable in practices or in the habitus, but only in the experience of subjectivity. Further, some critics charge that Bourdieu's habitus governs so much of an individual's social makeup that it significantly limits the concept of human agency.

    In Bourdieu's references to habitus it sometimes seems as if so much of an individual's disposition is predetermined by the social habitus that such pre-dispositions cannot be altered or left behind. Pierre Bourdieu's obituary in The Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom said Bourdieu "was, for many, the leading intellectual of present-day France… a thinker in the same rank as Foucault , Barthes and Lacan. His works have been translated into two dozen languages and have had an impact on the whole gamut of disciplines in the social sciences and the humanities.

    Several works of his are considered classics, not only in sociology , but also in anthropology , education , and cultural studies.

    Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste was named as one of the twentieth century's ten most important works of sociology by the International Sociological Association. His book, Outline of a Theory of Practice is among the most cited in the world. The Rules of Art has impacted the fields of sociology, history , literature, and aesthetics. In France, Bourdieu was not seen as an "ivory tower" academic or "cloistered don," but as a passionate activist for those he believed subordinated by society.

    Its very title stressed how much of a politically engaged intellectual Bourdieu was, taking on the mantle of Emile Zola and Jean-Paul Sartre in French public life, and slugging it out with politicians because he thought that was what people like him should do. According to Bourdieu, cultural capital comes in three forms—embodied, objectified, and institutionalized. In its institutionalized form, cultural capital refers to credentials and qualifications such as degrees or titles that symbolize cultural competence and authority.

    It refers to the physical embodiment of cultural capital, to the deeply ingrained habits, skills, and dispositions that we possess due to our life experiences. However, if you were one of the lucky few in your neighborhood to make it to college, you would probably find that this same set of skills and dispositions was not useful—and maybe even detrimental—to your success in your new social scenario.

    This often leads to justifying social inequality, because it is mistakenly believed that some people are naturally disposed to the finer things in life while others are not. Each field has its own set of positions and practices, as well as its struggles for position as people mobilize their capital to stake claims within a particular social domain. Much like a baseball or football field, social fields are places where people struggle for position and play to win. France loves its intellectuals. So much so that they even make documentaries about them!

    To find your way through his many writings, we suggest you take a look at this handy online bibliography:.