Pierre Bourdieu

Pierre Bourdieu

Pierre Bourdieu

Pierre Bourdieu

Synopsis

This short critical introduction to Pierre Bourdieu's thought is a model of clarity and insight. Where Bourdieu's own writings are often complex, even ambiguous, Richard Jenkins is direct, concise and to the point. He emphasizes Bourdieu's contributions to theory and methodology while also dealing in detail with his substantive studies of education, social stratification and culture. His book provides the best short English-language introduction to Bourdieu's work.
'As Jenkins points out in the final pages of his book, criticism can be the sincerest form of flattery. I particularly relished his critical approach to the work of Bourdieu and believe that he has written a timely introduction which both undergraduates and experienced teachers will find stimulating and enjoyable.'-Mike Hepworth, University of Aberdeen

Excerpt

On the evening of January 23rd, 2002, Pierre Bourdieu, Professor of Sociology at the Collège de France, died of cancer, aged 71, in a Paris hospital. His passing was news on the front page of Le Monde, and inspired a tribute from the French Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin (someone who had felt the sharp edge of Bourdieu’s critical tongue on many occasions). Arguably the last survivor of the great French intellectuals of the second half of the 20th century, he kept working pretty much to the end.

Whether one is a fan of Bourdieu or a critic, his status as a major figure is incontrovertible. Widely regarded during his life as among the most important contemporary sociologists, his legacy is already clear and secure. Within the narrow field of French sociology and social science, he responded to the hegemony of increasingly distant and abstract grand theory by re-asserting the centrality of critical, systematic inquiry. From his base in the Centre de Sociologie Européene he instigated a sustained programme of investigations into many aspects of French life. Philosophy was, of course, never to be neglected – with his background how could it be otherwise? – but neither was empirical research.

Bourdieu did not neglect the wider context and the problems of French society, either. He asserted vigorously the right, the duty . . .

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