The central plank in Bourdieu’s sociological platform is his attempt to transcend the ‘compulsory’ and ‘ritual’ choice between subjectivism and objectivism. In rejecting the determinism of mechanistic explanations of social life, however, he does not want to fall into the other trap, as he perceives it, of viewing conscious and deliberate intentions as a sufficient explanation of what people do. To adopt Hollis’s terminology this is the distinction between plastic man and autonomous man: ‘Where Plastic Man has his causes, Autonomous Man has his reasons’.  It can be assimilated to a series of homologous oppositions, ‘the individual versus society, action versus structure, freedom versus necessity, etc.’,  which provide the contemporary theoretical debate about structuration with its problematic and raison d’être. It is in terms of this theoretical ambition that Bourdieu’s contribution to sociology and anthropology must be assessed. This is the criterion against which he offers himself for judgement.
In assessing that contribution, however, a further important point to bear in mind is Bourdieu’s rejection of the project of ‘grand theory’. Theory for its own sake, for example, is roundly dismissed: