This article examines the unique contribution that analytic ethnography has made and can make to accomplishing two of the key principles of analytical sociology: developing theoretical explanations by identifying mechanisms that connect actors, action, and outcomes; bridging the micro, meso, and macro levels of analysis in those explanations. It first distinguishes ‘analytic ethnography’ from other varieties of ethnography before showing how analytic ethnography has historically developed mechanism-based explanations that go beyond the micro level. It then compares analytic ethnography to analytical sociology in order to highlight the compatibility of the two. Finally, it demonstrates how theoretical integration can be achieved first within analytic ethnography, then between analytic ethnography and analytical sociology, using research on signaling and explanations of outcomes in which signals are the mechanism.
Peter Hedström and Lars Udehn
This article locates analytic sociology in the Mertonian tradition of middle-range theory, which focuses on partial explanation of phenomena observed in different social domains through identification of core causal mechanisms. Robert K. Merton was one of the most important figures in twentieth-century sociology. He wrote on a wide range of topics, including bureaucracy, deviance, mass communications, professions, social stratification, and the sociology of science, paying attention to the consolidation and codification of existing sociological theories. His theoretical agenda has much in common with that of contemporary analytical sociology. This article begins with an overview of Merton’s middle-range theory, followed by a discussion of the micro-macro relationship. It then considers Merton’s arguments regarding social dynamics, along with his theories of self-fulfilling prophecies and the Matthew effect. It also explains different kinds of middle-range theories and concludes by stressing the importance of developing theories with sufficient causal depth.
Marx’s historical materialism is a powerful antidote to culturalist essentialism of the kind that became known as Orientalism after Edward Said. The Marxian perspective allows for a full consideration of the role of Western imperialism in hindering the development of the Middle East as well as in the deliberate preservation of archaic sociopolitical features in the region. The concept of Bonapartism that Marx developed in his writings on the French Second Empire is highly relevant to the analysis of the national-developmental experiences that emerged in the Middle East in the twentieth century. His insight on the reactionary aspiration of sections of the petite bourgeoisie confronted with capitalist transformation provides an important clue to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East. Marx’s theory of revolution as resulting from the blockage of economic development finds a most striking illustration in what is commonly designated as the Arab Spring.
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.
This article examines the multiple mechanisms by which beliefs are formed — from observation, social influence/socialization, induction, deduction from other beliefs, adaptation to desire (wishful thinking), and dissonance-reduction mechanisms — as well as the conditions under which each arises and the characteristic processes (and problems) associated with each. The discussion is generally set in a socio-cognitive framework, which is based on the assumption that individuals are motivated by an ‘effort after meaning’. The article first considers the role of categorization in belief formation before turning to inductive reasoning and analogism. It then describes the conditions under which people’s beliefs are particularly likely to be influenced by others, followed by an analysis of the mechanism of dissonance reduction. It suggests that while beliefs are slippery and difficult to nail down, they need to be taken into account in any explanation of action.
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.
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.
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).
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.