Pierre Bourdieu

Pierre Bourdieu is the director of the Centre de Sociologie Européenne in Paris. Among those books of his which have been translated into English are Reproduction in Education, Culture and Society and Outline of a Theory of Practice. His most recent works are Le Sens Pratique (1980), and La Distinction (1979), which is to be published in English next year by Harvard University Press. The current issue of the journal Media, Culture and Society is largely devoted to his work, and contains a collaborative discussion of it by Raymond Williams and Nicholas Garnham. His article on Sartre was translated by Richard Nice.


Pierre Bourdieu, 20 November 1980

‘Sartre has undoubtedly dominated his generation and had no successor.’ This is the verdict on his work in a school text-book, a critical study of post-war French literature, published in the 1970s. It is not for the sociologist to agree or disagree with this verdict; he has to take it for what it is, i.e. an indisputable social fact, and to endeavour to account for it, to make it intelligible. What made Sartre, the (French) intellectual par excellence, possible? What were the enabling conditions for this total intellectual, active on every front, as philosopher, critic, novelist and dramatist? These are typically anti-Sartrian questions. Sartre, who created the intellectual as an uncreated creator, never ceased, in the many self-analyses and self-critiques he produced throughout his career, to assert his capacity for exhaustive knowledge of his own truth, as an individual and as an intellectual. In so doing, he ruled out in advance, as reductive, any attempt to circumscribe the uncircumscribable, to classify the unclassifiable.

Martial Art: Pierre Bourdieu

Bruce Robbins, 20 April 2006

A recent French documentary about Pierre Bourdieu is entitled, after one of his own pronouncements: La Sociologie est un sport de combat. When he died in January 2002, Bourdieu was widely...

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Union Sucrée: The Normalising of France

Perry Anderson, 23 September 2004

The first part of this essay is also available online.In Britain, the early 1990s saw the breakdown of Thatcher’s rule and the passage to a less strident neo-liberal agenda, under the atonic...

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Top of the Class

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 8 May 1997

No theorist of what only a theorist would dare to call ‘modern society’ commands more attention in the anglophone world; no one is closer to the centre of the local ‘field of...

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Jon Elster, 5 November 1981

In his inaugural lecture at the Collège de France – in the very chair occupied today by Pierre Bourdieu – Raymond Aron coined the word ‘sociodicy’: an apt term for...

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