Through a revisit of the evolution of Marx’s ideas about Oriental society and the village community, this chapter explores the methodological meaning of Asia for the Marxist conception of history and demonstrates its contemporary relevance. Following Marx’s original cases of India, China, and Russia, the chapter traces how eventually in his analysis national liberation and class struggle became mutually indispensable and why the oldest forms of social organization could be transformed into the newest as the communist project. This textual study of a remarkable intellectual trajectory begins with a critical examination of Marx’s Asiatic mode of production and then looks into the major twists and leaps in his later reflections, and concludes with a tentative appraisal of the significance of his eastward turn. Marx’s non-deterministic history with a strong agential as well as ecological consciousness is shown to be an indispensable source for contemporary Marxist rethinking of historical and global transformations.
Tim Hallett and Matthew Gougherty
This chapter examines the relationship between Bourdieu’s sociology and organizational research, some of the ways he has been influential, how his ideas have been used, and new opportunities to push his research. In helping to spark the cultural turn in sociology, Bourdieu indirectly influenced the new institutionalist approach within organizational sociology. Although organizations were rarely the primary focus of his own work, we argue that there are traces of an organizational sociology in some of his canonical books. Much like his other work, this implicit approach is centered on the field-capital-habitus triumvirate. However, organizational scholars influenced by Bourdieu tend to focus on and modify the concepts of field and capital. Given recent calls to apply Bourdieu’s full conceptual framework to the study of organizations, we examine the promise and the potential pitfalls of incorporating Bourdieu’s concepts into the scholarship on the micro-foundations of institutions, especially as it relates to social interaction.
Chapter abstract This chapter considers the relationship between the sociologies of Pierre Bourdieu and Alfred Schutz. It begins by making plain the shared rootedness of many of their ideas in the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl and tracing the different directions in which they took that influence, given the dissimilar states of the intellectual fields they were positioned in. It then goes on to compare the two thinkers on philosophical anthropology and epistemology, making the case that Bourdieu’s relational worldview fills in significant gaps in Schutz’s account. However, the author subsequently argues that Schutz’s vocabulary can, in turn, help plug holes in Bourdieu’s perspective too, pushing the latter toward becoming a “relational phenomenology.” These holes are, first, the sketchy depiction of conscious activity associated with the concept of habitus and, second, the neglect of how individual lifeworlds are structured by multiple fields.
Catherine Connell and Ashley Mears
Chapter abstract The work of Pierre Bourdieu provides a framework to see how class position is written on the body and expressed through classed styles of walking, talking, gesturing, eating, drinking, and so forth. This chapter considers how Bourdieu’s work on the body has informed and advanced empirical research on the body. From Bourdieu’s perspective, each body is the visible product of the composition and volumes of class-specific capitals accrued over the course of a lifetime, and it can be a powerful resource, or liability, depending upon the fit between one’s bodily capital and the field in which one is positioned. In particular, the chapter considers how women’s bodies have signified status for men’s class projects far more than the reverse, one of the many gendered implications of bodily capital and class reproduction.
Chapter abstract Having grown up in the relative cultural backwater of Béarn, in southwestern France, Pierre Bourdieu found himself wrenched and jolted by his earliest encounters with French intellectual society. His perceptions, tastes, and dispositions offered constant reminders that he had not been made for this world. But the same disjuncture yielded productive insights and made Bourdieu into an accidental anthropologist of intellectual life. This chapter thematizes “the social relations of intellectual life” as a linchpin of his work, first tracing the sociobiographical roots of this interest and dividing Bourdieu’s career into four successive but overlapping phases, each defined by a particular approach to the subject. The chapter then highlights several moments in his theory where the focus on intellectual life holds the key to its deeper purpose or meaning. A key task for sociology after Bourdieu is to develop a more advanced theory of “intellectual practical sense.”
The collapse of the communist regimes in the former Soviet bloc and the subsequent economic, political, social, and cultural transformations opened up new challenges for social science research. Working with the methodological and conceptual tools of Pierre Bourdieu, including habitus, field, capital, symbolic power, hysteresis, and the logic of honor, among others, scholars have defined and addressed four clusters of important research questions: the possibility of systemic change and the emergence of “capitalism without capitalists”; mechanisms for legitimacy and stability, new configurations of stratification and lifestyles; marketing selves, the informal economy, and nationalism; and state-level strategies for redefining positions in the international political field. This chapter shows that, although much remains to be done across these areas, works that use Bourdieu’s insights to analyze post-communist regimes have provided more nuanced accounts and fuller explanations than those available in mainstream literatures, making up in salience what they lack in number.
Marco Santoro, Andrea Gallelli, and Barbara Grüning
An influential figure in the French intellectual field since the 1960s, Pierre Bourdieu (1930–2002) is increasingly influential also—and probably mainly—on a global scale. In fact, the circulation of Bourdieu’s ideas and concepts outside of France greatly exceeds their transatlantic importation, both temporally and spatially. His works circulated in different parts of “old Europe” well before their renown in the United States, especially in countries geographically, historically, and culturally close to France, including Spain, Germany, and Italy. The patterns of transfer in these countries—each with its own intellectual tradition and academic organization—have been varied, both temporally and in intellectual content, following paths that are unpredictable and often surprising in many respects, with consequences in terms of status and identity of the transferred ideas equally diversified and not immediately understandable.
John McLevey, Allyson Stokes, and Amelia Howard
Pierre Bourdieu is one of the most influential and widely cited figures in anglophone Canadian sociology. Since the first decade of the twenty-first century, in particular, his theories have guided research in areas such as the sociology of culture, education, social theory, social networks, and social capital. This chapter presents a content analysis of journal articles to better understand Bourdieu’s influence on anglophone Canadian sociology. Many citations to Bourdieu are ritualistic and occasionally are characterized by misreadings. Furthermore, interpretations and applications of Bourdieu’s ideas have been limited by a methodological division of labor. Quantitative research has primarily been concerned with cultural and social capital, with qualitative and historical research placing more emphasis on habitus and fields. The authors suggest several ways to expand the engagement with Bourdieu’s work, and to move beyond the current methodological division of labor.
John Levi Martin
Chapter abstract The author of this chapter proposes that we consider Bourdieu’s work neither on its own terms, nor in the terms of the postwar French academic field, but in terms of the general problems that it solved. When we do so, we find that Bourdieu developed lines of thinking that had stalled in Germany and the United States. The former was the field theoretic tradition associated with Gestalt psychology and empirical phenomenology; the second was the habit theoretic tradition associated increasingly with pragmatism. Each had stalled because each seemed, in a way, too successful—everything turned into habit for pragmatist social psychology; field theory also put everything indiscriminately in the field of experience. By focusing on the reciprocal relations of habitus and field, Bourdieu developed these insights in ways that allowed for empirical exploration, and that cut against the French rationalist vocabulary that he inherited.
This chapter argues that rather than being focused on the higher levels of consumption of aesthetic goods on the part of the educated class, Pierre Bourdieu’s main hypothesis in Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste was concerned with how differences in class fractions as defined by total educational endowment (parental and individual) predict the extent to which individuals consume more artistically legitimate versus less artistically legitimate cultural forms. This argument leads naturally to Bourdieu’s understanding of the difference between the consumption styles of the educated (and less educated) classes as built from his understanding of differences in the formative experiences of different classes. The chapter develops the implications of this for contemporary debates regarding a more illuminating explanation of the omnivore taste phenomenon and other forms of aestheticized consumption.