To some readers this may have seemed an unnecessarily critical appraisal of Bourdieu’s work. It could legitimately be argued that a brief introductory text should be positive rather than negative in its orientation. In my defence I can offer three arguments, the first of which is simply that I have accentuated the positive wherever I felt I could. What is more, I offer this as only one possible reading of Bourdieu’s theory, albeit a plausible one.
Second, in criticising Bourdieu I have attempted to stay within the bounds of his own objectives and ambitions. My strongest criticism of his work is probably that he consistently says he is doing one thing while actually doing something else (and usually something which negates or undermines his stated project). He seeks, for example, to transcend the objectivist-subjectivist dualism while remaining firmly rooted in objectivism. He vociferously rejects determinism while persistently producing deterministic models of social process. He perpetually reminds his readers that his accounts of social life should only be read as models of that social reality - ‘it all happens as if - but is equally consistent in his use of the language of positivist empiricism, which presents his analysis as based in a ‘real’ material world.