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.
Chapter abstract This chapter explores some of the ways Bourdieusian theory is reinvigorating historical sociology. The first section reconstructs Bourdieu’s increasingly serious engagement over the course of his career with historians and historical material. It argues that Bourdieu generated and encouraged among his students a unique approach to historical sociology. The second section argues that the historical turn in Bourdieu’s work is firmly grounded in the fundamentally historicity of his two key theoretical concepts, habitus and field. The third section sketches an agenda for future work in historical sociology based on Bourdieu’s mature theory. The final section surveys recent social research using Bourdieusian field theory, arguing that this constitutes an unacknowledged and growing tendency within historical sociology.
This chapter explicates Marx’s concept of capital and highlights its centrality to his book Capital, arguing that Capital is specifically about capital, not all of capitalist society. In Marx’s conception, capital has two forms, money and means of production, but capital itself is the process of self-expansion of value, or valorization. The commodity fetish and subsumption of labor under capital are explored in relation to this. Employing Marx’s concept of the circuit of capital, the chapter considers his theory that value self-expands by extracting surplus labor and his understanding of the reproduction and accumulation of capital. It also argues that failure to rigorously respect the difference between constant capital and the value of means of production is one source of allegations that Marx’s value theory and falling-rate-of-profit theory are logically inconsistent or incorrect. Finally, his theory of surplus-value is compared to the view that interest is a “return to capital.”
This chapter argues that capital in general and competition are the two main levels of abstraction in Marx’s theory in Capital and that they correspond to the theories of the production of surplus value in Capital I and II and the distribution of surplus value in Capital III. The main question addressed at the level of capital in general is the production of surplus value or the determination of the total surplus value produced in the economy as a whole. The main question addressed at the level of abstraction of competition is the distribution of surplus value, or the division of the total surplus value into individual parts (first the equalization of the rate of profit across industries and then the further division of the total surplus value into commercial profit, interest, and rent).
Capital is the fundamental concept of modern social theory because capital is the foundation of bourgeois society. Unlike produced means of production, capital is a specific social form of production. A vast gulf separates Marx from the mainstream notion that capital is produced means of production. Inattention to production’s social form, a feature of the “bourgeois horizon,” shackles social theory: it puts capital out of sight. Capital is value whose value is increased. Value is enigmatic; a strange, “supersensible” social form of wealth, it results from commodity-producing labor. The topic of labor’s social form falls outside economics. Capital shapes and subsumes society in various ways. Marx identifies several forms of subsumption: formal, real, and ideal, as well as “hybrid forms.” Commerce makes capitalist society appear classless; however, capital presupposes a class division of the means of production and subsistence. Crises are seeded in the dichotomous character of commodities.
Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin
Capitalist development is a contradictory process prone to structural crises—the genesis, nature, and outcome of which are historically contingent and the resolution of which changes the terrain for the development of future crises. Crises are always historically specific; they occur within particular periods of capitalist development and must be theorized using the tools of historical materialsm in relation to the class and state matrices of that period. This article analyzes the specific class, state, and imperial configurations of the particular historical conjunctures in which the four structural crises of capitalism’s history have occurred from the late nineteenth century to the opening decades of the twenty-first century
Capitalist Social Reproduction: The Contradiction between Production and Social Reproduction Under Capitalism
Martha E. Gimenez
This entry will look at Marx’s theoretical contributions to social reproduction in relationship to critical assessments of his alleged “neglect” of reproduction and to the development of the social sciences, particularly the “radical” social sciences that emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and continued to develop ever since. Marx, as well as Engels, offered important insights for understanding social reproduction as an abstract feature of human societies that, however, can only be fully understood in its historically specific context (i.e., in the context of the interface between modes of production and social formations). Social reproduction in the twenty-first century is capitalist social reproduction, inherently contradictory, as successful struggles for the reproduction of the working classes, for example, do not necessarily challenge capitalism. Finally, this article argues that radical social scientists, because they identify the capitalist foundations of the social phenomena they study, have made important contributions to the study of capitalist reproduction.
This chapter affirms that class and class struggle were fundamental to Marx’s conception of history. His claims are affirmed as it is shown that upper-class demands for surplus and lower-class resistance have driven the evolution of society from the Bronze Age to the present and were critical to the passage from the tributary mode of production to the capitalist mode of production. Class struggle exists in all class-based societies but was particularly acute in China and the West. In Classical Antiquity class antagonism mainly took the form of peasant/landlord struggle but also expressed itself in conflict between slave and master. In modern times the bourgeoisie engaged in a two-sided struggle against both the landlord class and against the working class. Its struggle against the latter is ongoing. The state, culture, and ideology are key components of class struggle.
Tomás Rotta and Rodrigo Teixeira
This entry presents an analysis of the commodification of knowledge and information in contemporary capitalism. We provide a consistent account of how information as a commodity effects the workings of both capitalism and of Marxist theory. The first part of the chapter critically revisits Marx’s own writings on the commodification of knowledge and how the immaterial labor hypothesis initially interpreted these writings. Based on the new categories knowledge-commodity and knowledge-rent, we then present our own approach in response to the challenges raised by the immaterial labor hypothesis. Lastly, there is an analysis of the more recent contributions on the commodification of knowledge and information within the Marxist literature. The current debate on the value of knowledge has been divided between two camps: the reproduction cost approach and the average cost approach. Finally, there is a look at empirical estimates of the magnitudes of knowledge-rents.
Chapter abstract The concept of habitus plays a central role in Bourdieu’s dispositional theory of action, itself part of his lifelong effort to develop a science of practice and a correlative critique of domination. Retracing the concept’s philosophical origins and its early uses by Bourdieu clears up four recurrent misunderstandings about the concept: first, habitus is never the replica of a single social structure, but a multilayered and dynamic set of schemata that records, stores, and prolongs the influence of diverse environments successively traversed during one’s existence; second, habitus is not necessarily coherent and unified, but displays varying degrees of integration and tension; third, habitus is no less suited to analyzing crisis and change than cohesion and perpetuation; fourth, habitus is not a self-sufficient mechanism for the generation of action—like a spring, it needs an external trigger—and cannot be considered in isolation from the social worlds in which it operates.
Mark R. Rank
This concluding article proposes a new paradigm in which to understand poverty, focusing primarily on the United States even as several dimensions of the paradigm apply globally across other countries. It first considers the major tenets of the “old” paradigm, which is to a large extent a reflection and affirmation of both the free market economic structure and the culture of individualism that have profoundly shaped the American ideology. It then introduces the new paradigm, which aims to stimulate a fundamental shift in how we conceptualize and act toward the problem of poverty, and some of its major themes: poverty results from structural failings; poverty is a conditional state in which individuals move in and out; poverty constitutes deprivation; poverty as injustice; the condition of poverty affects and undermines each one of us.