Frédéric Lebaron and Brigitte Le Roux
Chapter abstract The extent to which the concepts of field and social space are linked to a concrete mode of empirical research—and in particular to a set of original statistical tools—has seldom been acknowledged. This chapter aims to re-establish the close link between the field concept and geometric data analysis (GDA), Bourdieu’s preferred technique for mapping the “social distances” between individuals. The elective affinity between the two is based on a relation of tight interdependence: on the one hand, the emergent practice of GDA sustains and strengthens the “implicit philosophy” of the theory of fields; on the other hand, the method’s widespread use by Bourdieu and his collaborators has facilitated GDA’s international reception in the social sciences. The chapter concludes by discussing the empirical research program that results from wedding a sociology of fields with the systematic use of GDA.
Correspondence Analysis and Bourdieu’s Approach to Statistics: Using Correspondence Analysis within Field Theory
Chapter abstract Since the mid-1970s, Bourdieu used multiple correspondence analysis (MCA) on a regular basis in order to construct fields and social spaces. After having been long neglected, this part of his work has spurred a new interest for some years. This chapter aims to highlight the very original and rich thought that lies behind Bourdieu’s use of MCA, but which can lead to misunderstandings. The chapter emphasizes three main points: the specific (French) sociological tradition in which Bourdieu’s statistical practices were rooted; the importance of the stage that consists in establishing the data to construct social spaces in an adequate way; and the dialectic relation between the thinking in terms of field and the use of MCA.
Jeffrey J. Sallaz
Chapter abstract This chapter argues that Pierre Bourdieu’s research program is less compatible with ethnography than it first appears. Bourdieu was critical of structuralism, that perspective on the social world that prioritizes general patterns over lived experience, whereas ethnography claims as its raison d’être the elucidation of lived experience. A close reading of Bourdieu’s entire body of writings, however, reveals multiple reservations about the ethnographic method. At various points Bourdieu argues that ethnography is partial knowledge, impotent knowledge, and dangerous knowledge. This chapter elaborates each of these critiques, and gives ethnography a chance to respond. Ultimately, it concludes that it is possible to do ethnography from within the Bourdieusian research program. But ethnographers must take care to contextualize their field data in its extra-local context; they should deploy systematic research designs; and they must exercise reflexivity as to how one’s position as a scholar shapes one’s experience of others’ social worlds.
Vonnie C. McLoyd, Rosanne M. Jocson, and Abigail B. Williams
This article examines the effects and mediators of childhood poverty, with particular emphasis on the confluence of forces that gave rise to these foci and perspectives. It first considers macroeconomic trends as a context for the study of childhood poverty in the United States, followed by a review of developments that directed attention to the dynamics and context of childhood poverty as research topics, along with a summary of the findings generated by this research. It then discusses perspectives that have emerged about processes that mediate links between poverty and child development, including the social causation and social selection perspectives, as well as the applicability of these perspectives for understanding the effects of poverty on children living in developing countries. Finally, it assesses the role of poverty in maternal and child mental health and the influence of parenting practices and investments on child development.
This article examines the history of poverty research and the evolution of the practice of gathering knowledge about the poor. It distinguishes between poverty research and poverty knowledge, suggesting that the convergence of the two was a historically specific development that first began to gain wide currency in the late nineteenth century in response to the vast and increasingly visible disparities of industrial capitalism in Western Europe and the United States. It also situates poverty research within the politics and social organization of knowledge and considers the influence of broader contextual factors, such as the creation, expansion, and subsequent restructuring of welfare states in Western industrial democracies; the geopolitical imperatives of empire, decolonization, and the Cold War; and the official declaration of the War on Poverty in the 1960s. Finally, it explores how poverty knowledge was reshaped by the economic, political, and ideological transformations associated with the rise of neoliberalism.
Timothy M. Smeeding
This article focuses on the complexities and idiosyncrasies of poverty measurement, from its origins to current practice. It first considers various concepts of poverty and their measurement and how economists, social statisticians, public policy scholars, sociologists, and other social scientists have contributed to this literature. It then discusses a few empirical estimates of poverty across and within nations, drawing primarily on data from the Luxembourg Income Study and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to highlight levels and trends in overall poverty, while also referring to the World Bank’s measures of global absolute poverty. In the empirical examinations, the article takes a look at rich and middle-income countries and some developing nations. It compares trends in relative poverty over different time periods and in relative and anchored poverty across the Great Recession.