Pierre Bourdieu

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Pierre Bourdieu, 1996

Pierre Bourdieu (August 1, 1930January 23, 2002) was an acclaimed French sociologist whose work employed methods drawn from a wide range of disciplines, from philosophy and literary theory to sociology and anthropology.


  • If the sociologist has a role, it is probably more to furnish weapons than to give lessons.
    • (talk at the Conference of the AFEF, Limoges, October 30, 1977)
  • By making social hierarchies and the reproduction of these hierarchies appear based upon the hierarchy of ‘gifts’, merits, or skill established and ratified by its sanctions, or, in a word, by converting social hierarchies into academic hierarchies, the educational system fulfils a function of legitimation which is more and more necessary to the perpetuation of the ‘social order’ as the evolution of the power relationship between classes tends more completely to exclude the imposition of a hierarchy based upon the crude and ruthless affirmation of the power relationship.
    • Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste (1973), p. 84
  • The practical mastery of the logic or of the imminent necessity of a game — a mastery acquired by experience of the game, and one which works outside conscious control and discourse (in the way that. for instance, techniques of the body do).
    • (1990), In Other Words p. 60
  • Practice has a logic which is not that of the logician.
    • (1990), The Logic of Practice. p. 86
  • You can fight the international technocracy in an efficient way only by challenging it on its very own field of activity, the economic science, and by opposing a kind of knowledge that respects human beings and realities towards that mutilated kind of knowledge used by the technocrats themselves.
    • Pierre Bourdieu on a strike meeting of governmental employees in Lyon/France, 1995. Quote from: Grefe C., Greffrath M. & Schumann H. Attac: Was wollen die Globalisierungskritiker? Berlin: Rowohlt p. 15
  • Male domination is so rooted in our collective unconscious that we no longer even see it.
  • Television enjoys a de facto monopoly on what goes into the heads of a significant part of the population and what they think.
    • (1998: 18); as cited in: Helen Kelly-Holmes (2001) Minority Language Broadcasting: Breton and Irish. p. 8
  • I often say that sociology is a martial art, a means of self-defense. Basically, you use it to defend yourself, without having the right to use it for unfair attacks.
    • (2000), La Sociologie est un sport de combat; cited in: John Horne, Wolfram Manzenreiter (2004), Football Goes East. p. xii
  • The point of my work is to show that culture and education aren't simply hobbies or minor influences.
    • (2001), "The Intellectual Class Struggle," New York Times, Jan. 6, 2001

Equisse d'une Théorie de la Pratique (1977)[edit]

(1977), Equisse d'une Théorie de la Pratique.
  • The mind is a metaphor of the world of objects which is itself but an endless circle of mutually reflecting metaphors.
    • p. 91
  • Every established order tends to produce (to very different degrees with different means) the naturalization of its own arbitrariness.
    • p. 164; as cited in: Jan E. M. Houben (1996) Ideology and Status of Sanskrit, p. 190
  • The most successful ideological effects are those which have no need of words, and ask no more than complicitous silence
    • p. 188

About Pierre Bourdieu[edit]

  • Overall, Bourdieu's work provides a dynamic model of structural inequality; it enables researchers to capture "moments" of cultural and social reproduction. To understand the character of these moments, researchers need to look at the contexts in which capital is situated, the efforts by individuals to activate their capital, the skill with which they do so, and the institutional response to the activation of resources. Unfortunately, Bourdieu's empirical work has not paid sufficient attention to the difference between the possession of capital and the activation of capital." Nor has he focused attention on the crucial mediating role of individuals who serve as "gatekeepers" and decision makers in organizations.
    • Annette Lareau Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life (2011)
  • Pierre Bourdieu [was] a leading French sociologist and maverick intellectual who emerged as a public figure here in the 1990's by championing the antiglobalization movement and other anti-establishment causes.
  • in the canonical studies of Eckert, as well as of Willis (1977) and Bourdieu and Passeron (1977), high schools are key sites for the reproduction of socioeconomic stratification.
    • Jonathan Rosa, Looking Like a Language, Sounding Like a Race: Raciolinguistic Ideologies and the Learning of Latinidad (2019)
  • Pierre Bourdieu, a French sociologist, observed that elites in a society typically maintain their power not simply by controlling the means of production (ie money), but by dominating the cultural discourse too (ie a society’s intellectual map). And what is most important in relation to that cognitive map is not what is overtly stated and discussed – but what is left unstated, or ignored.

External links[edit]

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