The Legacy Of Pierre Bourdieu Critical Essays

However, Bourdieu critically diverged from Durkheim in emphasizing the role of the social agent in enacting, through the embodiment of social structures, symbolic orders.He furthermore emphasized that the reproduction of social structures does not operate according to a functionalist logic.

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Bourdieu's best known book is Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste (1979).

The book was judged the sixth most important sociological work of the twentieth century by the International Sociological Association.

While a fierce critic of neoliberalism, Bourdieu was also critical of the "total intellectual" role played by Sartre, and he dismissed Sartre's attempts to intervene in French politics as "irresponsible" and "opportunistic.".

There is an apparent contradiction between Bourdieu's earlier writings against using sociology for political activism and his later launch into the role of a public intellectual, with some highly "visible political statements".

From 1964 onwards Bourdieu held the position of Professor (Directeur d'études) in the VIe section of the École Pratique des Hautes Études (the future École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales), and from 1981 the Chair of Sociology at the Collège de France (held before him by Raymond Aron and Maurice Halbwachs).

In 1968, Bourdieu took over the Centre de Sociologie Européenne, founded by Aron, which he directed until his death.His concepts of habitus, capital, and field were conceived with the intention of overcoming such oppositions.During the 1990s Bourdieu became more and more involved in political debate, becoming one of the most important public faces of intellectual life in France.During the Algerian War in 1958–1962, Bourdieu undertook ethnographic research into the clash through a study of the Kabyle peoples of the Berbers, laying the groundwork for his anthropological reputation.The result was his first book, Sociologie de l'Algérie (The Sociology of Algeria, 1958), which became an immediate success in France and was published in America in 1962.Maurice Merleau-Ponty and, through him, the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl played an essential part in the formulation of Bourdieu's focus on the body, action, and practical dispositions (which found their primary manifestation in Bourdieu's theory of habitus).Bourdieu was also influenced by Wittgenstein (especially with regard to his work on rule-following) stating that "Wittgenstein is probably the philosopher who has helped me most at moments of difficulty.From Max Weber he retained the importance of domination and symbolic systems in social life, as well as the idea of social orders which would ultimately be transformed by Bourdieu from a sociology of religion into a theory of fields.From Marx he gained his understanding of 'society' as the ensemble of social relationships: "what exist in the social world are relations – not interactions between agents or intersubjective ties between individuals, but objective relations which exist 'independently of individual consciousness and will'." (Arnold Hauser earlier published the orthodox application of Marxist class theory to the fine arts in The Social History of Art (1951).) From Émile Durkheim, through Marcel Mauss and Claude Lévi-Strauss, Bourdieu inherited a certain structuralist interpretation of the tendency of social structures to reproduce themselves, based on the analysis of symbolic structures and forms of classification.After getting his agrégation, Bourdieu worked as a lycée teacher at Moulins for a year before his conscription into the French Army in 1955.His biographers write that he chose not to enter the Reserve Officer's College like many of his fellow ENS graduates as he wished to stay with people from his own modest social background.


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