Pierre Bourdieu


Pierre Bourdieu (1930–2002) rose to become a leading international sociologist of the second half of the 20th century. He originally trained in philosophy and subsequently undertook extensive fieldwork in Algeria in which he used a number of structural anthropological tools. By combining philosophy and anthropology, he developed his own distinct version of sociology through a series of early studies on education and culture in the 1960s, as well as his studies in Algeria (see Grenfell, 2004). In fact, he often employed the word ethnology with reference to his own work, and it may be that it is better to consider him as a social philosopher than a sociologist.



He is sometimes seen as essentially a theorist, even though he spent a good deal of his work confronting the ‘theory effect’; much of his own theoretical thinking, in fact, arose from empirical field studies. Issues of methodology, both in his own research and the work of those now applying his perspective, remain paramount. Central to this methodology is what he referred to as his ‘theory of practice’, which he set out in a series of seminal texts: Esquisse d’une théorie de la pratique. Précédé de trois études d’ethnologie kabyle [Outline of a Theory of Practice] (1977/1972), and Le Métier de sociologue [The Craft of Sociology] (1991a/1968). This theory attempts, in practice, to transcend the limitations of subjectivism and objectivism through working with a series of key concepts. Major empirical studies followed in the 1980s when he deployed this approach, together with several discussions on a wide range of topics. The dimension of reflexivity took on increasing prominence in his work in the last decade of his career, and also formed the basis of the political activism he mounted later in his life. At that point, he became much more a public intellectual than hitherto, intervening in a number of socio-political movements and developing what he called ‘acts of resistance’, mostly to the growing influence of neoliberal economics and its political advocates. Although dying soon after retirement, Bourdieu’s influence has continued to grow, and his ideas are now employed in a range of disciplinary areas.


Bourdieu was born on 1 August, 1930, in Denguin, a tiny village in the Béarn region of the French Pyrénnées-Atlantiques, the Southwest region of rural France. His father was a petit fonctionnaire in the P.T.T., the French post-office, although his background would seem to be that of an itinerant sharecropper turned postman. The family background was poor, and Bourdieu grew up speaking Gascon, a now-moribund regional language, before starting elementary school. It seems his father had never completed his own schooling, whilst his mother continued schooling to the age of 16, since she was able to lodge with an aunt in Pau. After primary schooling, Bourdieu was duly sent to a lycée (secondary school) in Pau as a boarder. He then completed his secondary education at the Lycée Louis Le Grand in Paris, before gaining a place in 1951 at the École normale supérieur (ENS) in Paris, and graduating as an agrégé in philosophy in 1955.



He then taught in the lycée de Moulins for one year before going to Algeria in order to undertake his military service. Subsequently, from 1958 to 1960, he taught in the faculté de lettres in Alger. Returning to France in 1960, Bourdieu was employed as an assistant to Raymond Aron in Paris. He next took up a teaching post at Lille University (1961-1964), where he worked whilst residing in Paris. On 2 November 1962, he married Marie-Claire Brizzard, with whom he subsequently had three sons (Jérôme, Emmanuel, and Laurent). In 1964, with the support of leading French intellectuals—Raymond Aron, Claude Lévi-Strauss, and Fernand Braudel—Bourdieu was nominated as director of studies at the École pratique des hautes études (known, from 1977, as the École des hautes études en science sociales [EHESS, School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences]); he also took over as director of the Centre de Sociologie Européénne.



In 1964, Bourdieu also became editor of the Le Sens Commun series published by Les Éditions de Minuit and began a series of seminars at the École normale supérieure. In 1975, he founded the revue, Actes de la Recherche en Science Sociales. In 1981, he was named chair in sociology at the Collège de France. In 1993, he was awarded the gold medal from the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS, French National Center for Scientific Research) in France, the highest prestige to be awarded to an intellectual. He died of cancer on 23 January 2002.



Bourdieu’s professional output was voluminous. It includes books, academic papers, conference presentations, interviews, films and photography, newspaper articles, reviews, petitions, and talks. Together, they amount to several hundred pieces of work, not to mention the numerous translations into a wide range of global languages. It is possible to group his major publications into four overlapping phases. The first of these include his earliest work on Algeria—Sociologie de L’Algérie (1958), Travail et travailleurs en Algérie (1963), and Le déracinement, la crise de l’agriculture traditionelle en Algérie (1964)—and in his home village in the Béarn—‘Célibat et condition paysanne’ (1962) .



A second phase includes his early projects at the Centre de Sociologie Européenne: on education—Les héritiers (1964) and La reproduction (1970); and art and culture—Un art moyen (1965) and L’amour de l’art (1966). This phase culminated in the publication of two major methodological statements—Le métier de sociolgue (1968) and Esquisse d’une théorie de la pratique (1972).



A third phase saw the appearance of his main anthropological studies of France: cultural life—La distinction (1979); academia and state training schools—Homo academicus (1984) and La noblesse d’état (1989); as well as further methodological and philosophical statements—Le sens pratique (1980; itself a reworking of his Algerian studies), Questions de sociologie (1980), Leçon sur la leçon (1982; his inaugural lecture at the Collège de France), Choses Dites (1987), and L’ontologie de politique de Martin Heidegger (1988). He also published his only major work on language during this phase—Ce que parler veut dire (1982).



The final phase represents the last decade of his life. At this stage, Bourdieu took on an increasing public profile. Part of this role involved attacks on modern economics and its consequences—La misère du monde (1993) and Les structures sociales de l’économie (2000). These were also backed up by shorter collections of polemical statements aimed at a wider public—Contre-feux (1998) and Contre-feu 2 (2001). The focus on society and the individual included La domination masculine (1998).



Further methodological and philosophical works also appeared, often with explicit social and political discussion included as part of the implications of the theory of knowledge he had now developed to a sophisticated level—Réponses (1992), Raisons pratiques (1994), and Méditations pascaliennes (1997). His later empirical work included the artistic field, this time focussing on the production of writers and artists in Les règles de l’art (1992) . As part of his duties at the Collège de France, Bourdieu gave a series of annual lectures (leçons) during his time there. Some of these formed the basis of subsequent publications: for example, Science de la science et réflexivité (2001). Others have been transcribed and published since his death, including his analysis and history of the modern State, Sur l’Ėtat (2012), and a further major study of the ‘pre-impressionist’ painter Manet, Manet: une révolution symbolique (2013). Translations of Bourdieu’s work often appeared many years after these original publications, which has sometimes skewed interpretations for non-French speakers. For the remainder of the entry, the year of the English translation is noted first, followed by the year of the original work in French in order to facilitate ease of reference/reading for an English-speaking audience.

Theory of Practice

In Outline of a Theory of Practice (1977/1972), Bourdieu sets out his epistemological approach in terms of a series of ‘breaks’—from empirical knowledge, from phenomenological knowledge, from structural knowledge, and from scholastic (theoretical) knowledge itself. These breaks are not seen as a series of exclusions; rather, each theoretical position is retained and integrated into an overarching ‘theory of practice’. In effect, Bourdieu sees the need to understand these breaks as implying the addition of a fourth type of knowledge—praxeological. The basis of these breaks is a view of structure that sees it in terms of mental and social homologies. Structure for him, therefore, needs to be understood as being distinct from conventional forms found in structuralism. For Bourdieu, structural relations arise from practical (sense) action—that is, the empirical cognitive acts of individuals in pursuit of their aims. Such an engagement involves the interaction between generating principles in social contexts and the dispositions manifest in individual human agency. Such principles do not exist in some value-free, Platonic realm, but are the product and process of what already has been—values that serve the status quo and/or emerging social forms. This phenomenological structural relation is, consequently, also a product of environmentally structural conditions, which offer objective regularities to guide thought and action—ways of doing things. This understanding is hence the basis of an epistemology, which aims to construct a, ‘science of the dialectical relations between objective structures…and the subjective dispositions within which these structures are actualised and which tend to reproduce them’ (Bourdieu, 1977/1972, p. 3).



The objective and subjective bases to Bourdieu’s theory of practice can also be illustrated by his understanding of culture. In ‘Structuralism and theory of sociological knowledge’ (1968), Bourdieu writes that there are two traditions in the study of culture: the structural tradition and the functionalist one. The structuralist tradition sees culture as an instrument of communication and knowledge, based on a shared consensus of the world (e.g., the anthropology of Lévi-Strauss). The functionalist tradition, on the other hand, is formed around human knowledge as the product of a social infrastructure. The sociology of both Émile Durkheim and Karl Marx would form part of this second tradition, as both are concerned with ideational forms emergent in the structures of society—material, economic, organisational—one being positivist and the other critical-radical. Bourdieu criticises both traditions. The first tradition is too static for Bourdieu because it takes structure as structured structures, that is, synchronic forms, which are often based on primitive societies; whilst the second tradition reifies ideology—as a structuring structure—in imposing the ideology of the dominant class in the critical tradition, or maintaining social control in the positivist one. Bourdieu attempts to reconcile these two traditions by taking what has been learnt from the analysis of structures as symbolic systems in order to uncover the dynamic of principles, or logic of practice, which gives them their structuring power. In short, a theory of structure that is both structured (opus operatum, and thus open to objectification) and structuring (modus operandi, and thus generative of thought and action).



It is also important to see this response in the light of two salient intellectual disciplines of Bourdieu’s formative years (the 1950s): existentialism and structuralism. Existentialism is best represented by the work of the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, with its philosophy of personal liberation through the subjective choices we make in defining our lives. Structuralism may be represented by the work of Lévi-Strauss and its study of the objective ‘rules’ that can be found across cultures and that govern human behaviour—such as taboos and myths. But, Bourdieu was also responding in the light of his readings of the founding fathers of sociology—Durkheim, Marx, and Max Weber—as well as French historians of the philosophy of science, such as Gaston Bachelard, Alexandre Koyré, and Georges Canguilhem, who shared an interest in breaking away from positivist science as derived from Cartesian epistemology.



Actually, Bourdieu defined the conventional divide between subjectivism and objectivism as ‘the most fundamental, and the most ruinous’ (1990a/1980, p. 25). Bourdieu’s entire theory of practice can be seen as an attempt to bridge and go beyond this divide. Methodologically, the dichotomy is played out in terms of two approaches, to which German philosopher Ernst Cassirer is referenced: one substantialist, the other relational. The substantialist approach treats things as pre-existing entities with essential properties—as realist objects; whilst the relationalist approach understands things in terms of their relational context—how they acquire sense in terms of their position with respect to other phenomena, which share their context.



In the course of his empirical studies, Bourdieu developed a series of ‘key concepts’, which he used as analytic tools to carry out the approach (see Grenfell, 2014). The concepts representing objectivism and subjectivism are field and habitus, the relationship between which he described in Leçon sur une leçon as one of ‘ontological complicity’.



Field is the objective elements of the social environment, and is defined as



….. a network, or a configuration, of objective relations between positions. These positions are objectively defined, in their existence and in the determinations they impose upon their occupants, agents or institutions, by their present and potential situation (situs) in the structure of the distribution of species of power (or capital) whose possession commands access to the specific profits that are at stake in the field, as well as by their objective relation to other positions (domination, subordination, homology, etc.). (Bourdieu & Wacquant, 1992, p. 97)



Habitus, on the other hand, is an expression of subjectivity:



Systems of durable, transposable dispositions, structured structures predisposed to function as structuring structures, that is, as principles which generate and organize practices and representations that can only be objectively adapted to their outcomes without presupposing a conscious aiming at ends or an express mastery of the operations necessary in order to attain them. Objectively ‘regulated’ and ‘regular’ without being in any way the product of obedience to rules, they can be collectively orchestrated without being the product of the organizing action of a conductor. (Bourdieu, 1990a/1980, p. 53)



In line with the aforementioned discussion, habitus and field are homologous in terms of structures that are both structured and structuring. In other words, social spaces must be understood as differentiated, and thus structural in essence. Similarly, individual cognition arises from, generates, and is generated by mental structures, which are also essentially structured because of their systems of differentiation. In a seminal paper in 1966—Intellectual Field and Creative Project—Bourdieu builds on the discovery of historian Erwin Panofsky that there was a link between Gothic art, for example in the design of cathedral architecture, and the mental habits of those involved. In other words, each was symptomatic of the other. Bourdieu used this principle to argue that there was a structural homology between subjective thought and objective surroundings, the latter, for Panofsky, most noticeable in forms of social organisation rather than cathedrals. Such homologies exist because they are both generated by and generate the logic of practice of the field, itself defined in terms of its substantive raison d’être. This reinforces the point: social and mental ‘structures’ are co-terminus, both ‘structured’ and ‘structuring’, concrete and dynamic, stable but in flux.

Methodology in Practice


Despite being a member of an influential generation of French intellectual writers—which included the likes of Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, Jean-François Lyotard, and Roland Barthes—Bourdieu undertook a number of empirical studies, which might even be considered as anthropologies of contemporary France. These studies can be seen as Bourdieu working out what his theory of practice meant in research practice. The resultant method can be understood in terms of three co-terminus phases and a three-level field analysis. The three phases include (1) construction of the research object, (2) field analysis, and (3) participant objectivation. The three-level field analysis includes (1) the field and the field of power, (2) the field, and (3) the habitus of those occupying positions in the field (see Grenfell, 2014: chapter, 13).



These levels and phases can be identified across Bourdieu’s work, although not always dealt with systematically. Work ‘in the field’ also led to further principle-based and philosophical reflections of method and approach. In theory and practice, Bourdieu insists on epistemological vigilance, a term borrowed from Bachelard, in synthesizing a number of intellectual strands and traditions in order to create a symbolically ‘enhanced form of materialism’; and frequently complains that critics often wish to pigeon hole him as either Marxist, Durheimian, or Weberian.



Central to this project is an exploration of symbolic power (see Bourdieu, 1991b), in particular with respect to its provenance in the state. This preoccupation is evident from the earliest studies. For example, voluminous studies on Algeria begin with challenging the unitary concept of such as imposed by the French on a country it colonized in 1832. Using ethnographical, pictorial, and statistical techniques, Bourdieu constructs a ‘social topography’ of Algeria and its people. He also coins a phrase derived from French economist François Perroux in order to show the ‘domination effect’ or de-structuration and re-structuration that takes place when a dominating country takes geographical proximity, rather than a socio-cultural perspective, as a base for its administration. Observations on Algeria stayed with Bourdieu for his entire career, and he constantly came back to them as a way of reflecting on the similarities and differences between traditional and contemporary societies. In a later leçon at the Collège de France (Bourdieu, 2014/2012), he argues that integration precedes domination, and unification precedes monopolization in the state’s imposition of symbolic power.



A similar process is seen in The Bachelor’s Ball (2008a/2002), his study of the bachelor farmers in his home region of the Béarn in the Pyrénnées. This book is a collection of papers spanning over 25 years, as Bourdieu repeatedly returns to rework data. Both ethnographic and statistical analyses are employed to demonstrate the effects of the intrusion of modern society on the traditional country matrimonial mores, making one group of male farmers literally unmarriable. Besides being a study that is justified in sociological terms, Bourdieu is also attempting to show up ‘social suffering’ as a direct consequence of changes in society and the state’s attitude to them. Similar concerns underlie a good deal of his work, not only on Algeria, but later in terms of ‘masculine domination’ (2001b/1998) and the effects of neoliberalism on the lives of French men and women (1999/1993).



Further empirical studies in the 1960-1980s were preoccupied with education and culture, and it is resultant publications on these that first brought Bourdieu to international attention and led to the development of further analytic concepts to explain the disparities that Bourdieu discovered in French behaviour towards these two key aspects of the foundation of the French Vth Republic. For example, he coined the phrase cultural capital in order to account for the way students of different socio-cultural provenances performed variably when confronted with the ‘culture of schooling’ (see, e.g., Bourdieu, 1994/1965). This argument somewhat undermined the claims, and indeed aspirations, of the so-called democratisation of schooling. In a similar vein, his work on museums and art galleries (the latter were often seen by the French state as the means to socialise and educate the population) showed that attendance invariably followed the levels of education that visitors have received (see, e.g., Bourdieu, 1990b/1966). Such studies were highly influential. Scholarly discussion of ‘the love of art’ fed directly into the cultural interests growing in the enormous expansion in sociology that took place in the 1960s and 1970s, along with its cognate disciplines of media studies, cultural studies, for example. Meanwhile, scrutiny of the reality of schooling was taken up by the ‘new’ sociology of education in Anglo-Saxon countries with its preoccupations with knowledge formation in the classroom. However, the uses to which this work was put—in the case of culture leading to a greater orientation towards public receptivity of art, and in educational explorations to train teachers in ways that might mitigate the effects of cultural capital—were partially misplaced. Bourdieu’s aim was not so much better education and cultural processes per se (although he did go on to make suggestions in these directions) but rather further exemplifications of the workings of the state, in this case with respect to two of its principal estates.



This work culminated in the 1980s with a study of French ‘taste’—Distinction (1984/1979), which has become a sociological classic—and studies of the French academic field in considering the Homo academicus (1988/1984) and the system of French grandes écoles, which furnish France with their ‘state nobility’ (The State Nobility, 1996b/1989). As well as dealing with aspects of French society and the state, these works can be seen as Bourdieu applying and developing his epistemological perspectives in practice. Clearly, his sociology was highly particular and did not always conform to conventional disciplinary norms; indeed, that was its whole point. At one stage, he referred to it as structural constructivism or constructive structuralism, but even these terms have to be interpreted through a philosophical and anthropological lens. Many other topics are considered under this microscope—art, culture, religion, fashion, economics, sport, literature, science, law—many of which are included in the publication Questions de Sociologie (1993/1980), but only some to which Bourdieu did go on to give a full account: literature/Flaubert (1996a/1992), art/Manet (2017/2013), and economics (2005/2000).



Given the personal epistemological epiphany that Bourdieu experienced during his time in Algeria, it is not surprising that reflexivity is central to his work. The early studies in Algeria, the Béarn, education, and culture are all areas in which Bourdieu was intimately involved, and can be read as partly his own attempts to make sense of his place within them. Outline of a Theory of Practice includes a section on ‘the observer observed’, and Homo Academicus has Bourdieu objectifying his own academic field. However, reflexivity as a concept took on a more explicit prominence in later works—for example, Réponses (1992a/1992) and Science de la Science et Réflexivité (2004/2001). In one of his final authored works, he writes a ‘sketch for a self-analysis’ (2007), all whilst insisting that it is not an autobiography. In his final lecture at the Collège de France he suggests that his work was ultimately about himself; although this should not be read as a matter of self-indulgence but rather an intellectual attempt to work out the relations between an individual and the state, with all its manifestations (see Eakin, 2001). But, Bourdieu’s reflexivity is very different from common forms and understandings of the concept. He sees it as a ‘metanoia’, a totally ‘new gaze’ on the world, which implies a radical break from normal ways of seeing things (see Grenfell, 2017). Self-awareness is not enough, and neither is acknowledgment of expressive consciousness. Both are little more than the illusion of ‘transcending thought by the power of thought itself’. Bourdieu’s alternative gets to the phenomenological route of individuals’ relationship to both the material and ideational world by again deploying his theory of practice and conceptual thinking tools.



There is scope to do that at an individual/personal level. For example, Bourdieu suggests that some of his later ethnographic interviews with French men and women have a therapeutic effect for those involved, as it allowed them some objectivity regarding the social forces acting on them, and thus understand the roots of their social suffering (see Bourdieu, 2000c). This would make his philosophy on a par with Sartre’s existentialism as a source of human liberation. However, it is with respect to the conduct of science and research that Bourdieu develops the notions of reflexivity, the causes of false objectivity, and what can be done to minimize its effects.



In the series of epistemological breaks Bourdieu is proposing in defining his theory of practice, the final one is to break from scholastic knowledge itself. In other words, the scholastic world of theory needs to be seen as being just as prone as the empirical world to acting on the basis of presuppositions and historicisation, so much so that there is indeed the danger of research knowledge becoming a kind of scholastic fallacy, whereby what is offered in the name of scientific knowledge is, in actuality, simply the reproduction of a certain scholastic relations to the world, and thus one indeed imbibed with its own interests. In Pascalian Meditations (2000a/1997), Bourdieu writes of three presuppositions, which are key dangers in this potential ‘misrepresentation’. Firstly, there is the presupposition associated with a particular position in the social space; in other words, the particular habitus (including gender) as constituted by a certain life trajectory, and thus the cognitive structures, which orientate thought and practice. Secondly, there is the orthodoxy of the site of the academic/discipline field—its doxa—with its imperative to think in these terms, as they are the only ones acknowledged as legitimate within the field. Thirdly, there is the whole relation to the social world implied by scholastic skholè itself; in other words, to see the former as substantive, given, and an object of contemplation rather than relationally—praxeologically—and existentially dynamic. To avoid these, Bourdieu argues for the necessary alternative as a process of participant objectivation, or the objectification of the objectifying subject’: “I mean by that the one that dispossesses the knowing subject of the privilege it normally grants itself and that deploys all available instruments of objectification … in order to bring to light the presuppositions it owes to its inclusion in the object of knowledge” (Bourdieu, 2000a/1997, p. 10).



In other words, social scientists are called on to apply the same methods of analysis to themselves as to their object of research. What this means, in effect, is to see their own research field in terms of habitus, field, and capital, and to objectify their own position within it. Although this undertaking can be attempted on an individual basis, and is partly necessitated by a personal epistemological imperative, what is even more important is that participants in a particular academic field commit themselves to a similar process of reflexivity as a way of showing up the limits of its science. Bourdieu is perfectly aware that such an activity runs counter to the conventional underlying logic of practice of the scientific field, with its interest in asserting its own worldview in competing for a dominant position in the academic field overall. As a result of the latter, there is often a reluctance on the part of academics to recognise and acknowledge the limits of thinking that a truly reflexive process would reveal. For Bourdieu, it is the special mission of sociology—or at least his version of sociology—to insist on this reflexive stance. Indeed, anything else is a kind of ultimate act of scholastic bad faith.

Acts of Resistance


Such reflexive, praxeological knowledge, can for Bourdieu, form the basis of forms of resistance to dominant orthodoxies. Besides the personal insights referred to previously in this entry, this new gaze is used to critique state institutions. It also involves a more overt form of political action.

The tenor of Bourdieu’s work and public profile certainly evolved over the course of his professional life. For much of the 1960s and 1970s, he was perhaps regarded as a distant intellectual who did not concern himself with politics and social action; although Interventions (2008b/2002) makes it clear that this was never really true. However, his election to the Collège de France and the appearance of large studies with respect to contemporary France in the 1980s gave his work a new public profile. This coincided with the socialists coming to power, the first time in the period of the Vth Republic, and Bourdieu at first embraced their new socially minded policies. In fact, he chaired a committee at the Collège, which produced a report on reform to the curriculum for schools and colleges. This convergence was somewhat short-lived, and Bourdieu moved to a position of opposing the socialist government after it performed a socio-economic volte-face and began implementing the same sort of neoliberal policies that were being embraced internationally, especially in the United States and United Kingdom. Much of Bourdieu’s subsequent activity can be seen as a series of interventions into the socio-political space, which he viewed as ‘acts of resistance’. These included publications aimed at a non-specialist audience (e.g., Contre-feux1998a/1998, Contre-feux 2001a); a study of social suffering in France (La Misère du Monde, 1993); appearing in (and writing on) the media more frequently (Sur la Télévision, Suivi de l’Emprise du Journalisme ,1998b/1996); more overt political statements (Propos sur le Champ Politique , 2000); and indeed appearing at and addressing striking workers’ demonstrations. Bourdieu also supported a film made of a year in his life—La sociolgie est un sport de combat—which again offers a rationale for the application of his particular insights as socio-political instruments of activism. At this time, Bourdieu himself was active in creating an international of writers, which drew together authors across the globe as an intellectual movement capable of intervening and opposing politics deemed to result in social impoverishment. In their place, he proposed une politique de Bonheur—policies that begin with the aim of making life more comfortable for national citizens. Theory, practice, methodology, and political activism are therefore all part of one epistemological vision for Bourdieu—one that addressed the individual (in their personal relationship) to both their object of research and the state that enclosed it.



Others have embraced Bourdieu’s ideas and used them to illustrate issues within their own research fields, such as, for example, religion (Rey, 2007), architecture (Webster, 2011), law (Retaerd, 2006), journalism (Benson & Neveu, 2005), literature (Martin, 2010), and language/applied linguistics (Grenfell, 2011). Loïc Wacquant, a close collaborator of Bourdieu, has utilised the approach in his own empirical study of black ghettos in the United States (2008), which offers an example of what a Bourdieusian research project might look like when unbuckled from explicit use of its conceptual terms.

Reaction to Bourdieu’s Work


Bourdieu has attracted a range of responses and critiques. Besides the aforementioned applications, some have found his approach somewhat ‘totalising’. He asks his readers to travel with him from the most phenomenological roots of his philosophy through to the practical applications of his theory and method in field work, and on to implications of its outcomes in terms of both political action and personal understanding/standing in the world. For some Anglo-Saxon readers, its antecedents in continental philosophy are insufficiently appreciated, and especially the moral dimension of a French Republican worldview. Bourdieu himself was aware of the dangers of the ‘international circulation of ideas’, which travel around the world divorced from the context from which they emerged. This can lead to serious misunderstandings. The gaps between French publications and the appearance of translations in English (not normally chronological) exacerbates this problem. Bourdieu (1993c) does thus plead for a ‘sociogenetic reading’ of his work. Yet, there is something over and above such issues. Bourdieu continues to attract a good deal of interest, and many researchers persist in operationalizing his theory of practice in practice, in particular, in terms of developing methodology and analyzing just what field theory might buy them in the 21st century. For those who do not appreciate his work, it is a worldview they simply do not share. As previously noted, it is perhaps even questionable whether one should regard his approach as sociology in the conventional sense and practical meaning of the word. Nevertheless, the original insights of Bourdieu seem set to continue to absorb social scientists of many persuasions for some time yet to come.




Further Readings


Bourdieu, P. (1958). Sociologie de l’Algérie. (New Revised and Corrected Edition, 1961). Paris: Que Sais-je.


Bourdieu, P. (1962). ‘Célibat et condition paysanne’, Etudes rurales, 5-6, 32 – 136.


Bourdieu, P. (with Darbel, A, Rivet, J P, and Seibel, C). (1963). Travail et travailleurs en Algérie. Paris- The Hague: Mouton.


Bourdieu, P. (with Sayad, A) (1964). Le Déracinement, la crise de l’agriculture tradionelle en Algérie. Paris: Les Editions de Minuit.


Bourdieu, P. (1965). Un art moyen: essai sur les usages sociaux de la photographie. Paris: Editions de Minuit.


Bourdieu, P. (with Passeron, J-C). (1977). Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture (trans. R. Nice). London: Sage. (Original work published as La Reproduction. Eléments por une théorie du système d’enseignement, 1970).


Bourdieu, P. (Passeron, J-C). (1979). The Inheritors, French Students and their Relation to Culture (trans. R. Nice). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. (Original work published as Les héritiers, les étudiants et la Culture, 1964).


Bourdieu, P. (1982). Leçon sur une leçon. Paris: Les Editions de Minuit.


Bourdieu, P. (1993). Sociology in Question (trans. R Nice). London: Sage. (Original work published as Questions de sociologie, 1980).


Bourdieu, P. (1994). In Other Words: Essays Towards a Reflexive Sociology (Trans. M Adamson). Oxford: Polity. (Original work published as Choses dites, 1987).


Bourdieu, P (1991b) Language and Symbolic Power (trans. G. Raymond and M. Adamson). Oxford: Polity Press.


Grenfell, M and Hardy, C (2007) Art Rules. Pierre Bourdieu and the Visual Arts. Oxford: Berg.


Grenfell, M (2007) Pierre Bourdieu: Education and Training. London: Continuum


Grenfell, M and Lebaron, F (2014) Bourdieu and Data Analysis. Bern: Lang





Benson, R., and Neveu, E. (2005). Bourdieu and the Journalistic Field. Oxford: Polity Press.

Bourdieu, P. (1968). Structuralism and theory of sociological knowledge, Social Research, 35, 4, 681-706.


Bourdieu, P. (1966). Intellectual field and creative project, in M F D Young (Ed.) Knowledge and Control: New Directions for the Sociology of Education. London: Macmillan, 1971.


Bourdieu, P (1977). Outline of a Theory of Practice (trans. R Nice). Cambridge: CUP. (Original work published as Esquisse d’une théorie de la pratique. Précédé de trois études d’ethnologie kabyle, 1972).


Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction (trans. R. Nice). Oxford: Polity. (Original work published as La distinction, 1979).

Bourdieu, P. (1990a). The Logic of Practice (trans. R Nice). Oxford: Polity. (Original work published as Le sens pratique, 1980).


Bourdieu, P. (with Darbel, A., and Schnapper, D.). (1990b). The Love of Art. European Art Museums and their Public (trans. C Beattie and N Merriman). Oxford: Polity Press. (Original work published as L’Amour de l’art, les musées d’art et leur public, 1966).


Bourdieu, P. (with Chamboredon, J-C and Passeron, J-C). (1991a). The Craft of Sociology (trans. R Nice). New York: Walter de Gruyter. (Original work published as Le Métier de sociologue, 1968).


Bourdieu, P. (1991b). Language and Symbolic Power (trans. G. Raymond and M. Adamson). Oxford: Polity Press.


Bourdieu, P. (with Wacquant, L.) (1992). An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology (trans. L Wacquant). Oxford: Polity Press. (Original work published as Réponses. Pour une anthropologie réflexive, 1992).


Bourdieu, P. (1993). Concluding remarks: foe a sociogenetic understanding of intellectual works, in C. Calhoun, E. LiPuma and M. Postone (Eds.) Bourdieu: Critical Perspectives. Oxford: Policy Press.


Bourdieu, P. (with Passeron, J-C and De Saint Martin, M). (1994). Academic Discourse. Oxford: Polity. (Original work published as Rapport Pédagogique et Communication, 1965).


Bourdieu, P. (1996a). The Rules of Art (trans. S. Emanuel). Oxford: Polity Press. (Original work published as Les règles de l’art. Genèse et structure du champ littéraire, 1992).


Bourdieu, P (1996b). The State Nobility. Elite Schools in the Field of Power (trans. L C Clough). Oxford: Polity Press. (Original work published as La noblesse d’état. Grandes écoles et esprit de corps, 1989).


Bourdieu, P (1998a). Acts of Resistance. Against the New Myths of our Time (trans. R Nice). Oxford: Polity Press. (Original work published as Contre-feux, 1998).


Bourdieu, P. (1998b). Homo Academicus (Trans. P. Collier). Oxford: Polity. (Original work published, 1984).


Bourdieu, P (1998c). On Television and Journalism. London: Pluto Press. (Original work published as Sur la télévision, suivi de l’Emprise du journalisme, 1996).


Bourdieu, P. (1999). The Weight of the World. Social Suffering in Contemporary Society (trans. P Parkhurst Ferguson, S Emanuel, J Johnson, S T Waryn). Oxford: Polity Press. (Original work published as La Misère du monde, 1993).


Bourdieu, P. (2000a). Pascalian Meditations (trans. R. Nice). Oxford: Polity Press. (Original work published as Méditations pascaliennes, 1997).


Bourdieu, P. (2000b). Propos sur le champ politique. Lyon: Presses Universiterres de Lyon.


Bourdieu, P. (with Swain, H). (2000c). Move over, shrinks, Times Higher Educational Supplement, 14 April, 19.


Bourdieu, P. (2001a). Contre-feux 2. Pour un mouvement social européen. Paris: Raisons d’Agir.


Bourdieu, P (2001b). Masculine Domination. Oxford: Polity Press. (Original work published as La Domination masculine, 1998).


Bourdieu, P. (2004). Science of Science and Reflexivity. Cambridge: Polity Press. (Original work published as Science de la science et réflexivité, 2001).


Bourdieu, P. (2005). The Social Structures of the Economy. Cambridge: Polity Press. (Original work published as Les Structures sociales de l’economie, 2000).


Bourdieu, P. (2007). Sketch for a Self-analysis. Cambridge: CUP. (Original work published as – Esquisse pour une auto-analyse, 2007).


Bourdieu, P. (2008a). The Bachelor’s Ball. Cambridge: Polity Press. (Original work published as Le bal des célibataires. Cris de la société en Béarn, 2002).

Bourdieu, P. (2008b). (Eds. Discepolo and F Poupeau). Political Interventions: Social science and political action. London: Verson. (Original work published as Interventions (1961-2001), 2002).


Bourdieu, P. (2014). On the State. Cambridge: Polity Press. (Original work published as Sur l’État, 2012).


Bourdieu, P. (2017). Manet: A Symbolic Revolution. Cambridge: Polity. (Original work published as Manet: une revolution symbolique, 2013).


Eakin, E. (2001). ‘Social status tends to seal one’s fate, say France’s master thinker’, New York Times, 6th January 2001.


Grenfell, M. (2004). Pierre Bourdieu: Agent Provocateur. London: Continuum.


Grenfell, M. (2017). Reflecting in/ on Field Work, in Albright, J, Hartmann, D, and Widen, J (eds.) Beyond the Fields we know: Operationalising and Extending Bourdieu’s Field Analysis, (In Press 2017).


Grenfell, M. (2011). Bourdieu, Language and Linguistics. London: Continuum.


Grenfell, M (Ed.) (2014). Pierre Bourdieu: Key Concepts (2nd Edition). London: Routledge.


Retfaerd. (2006). Pierre Bourdieu: From Law to the Legal Field. Copenhagen.


Rey, T. (2007). Bourdieu and Religion: Imposing Faith and Legitimacy. London: Equinox.


Wacquant, L. ( 2008). Urban Outcasts: A Comparative Sociology of Advanced Marginality. Oxford: Polity Press.


Webster, H. (2011). Bourdieu for Architects. London: Routledge.