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Bourdieu, Pierre (1930–2002)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-R044-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved September 24, 2023, from

Article Summary

Critically assessing both hermeneutic and structuralist approaches, Pierre Bourdieu’s social theory aims at transcending the opposition between the individual and society. On the one hand, people exhibit practical skills which are adjusted to the constraints of the environment. On the other hand, society does not determine people’s actions: the very same practical skills allow them to improvise and deal with an infinite number of situations. Although Bourdieu takes into account the individual, he does not succumb to the Cartesian notion of a self-sufficient subject. Also, his view is very much in opposition to rational choice theory. His theoretical framework has emerged out of his empirical research and vice versa. In his research Bourdieu applies his reflexive sociology: a critical reflection on the part of the social scientist towards their own practices.

Citing this article:
Baert, Patrick. Bourdieu, Pierre (1930–2002), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-R044-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2023 Routledge.

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