Bourdieu and Education: Acts of Practical Theory

By Michael David James Grenfell | Go to book overview

Part I

Bourdieu in Education

Anyone encountering Bourdieu’s work is immediately struck by the range of theoretical concepts he employs; for example, field, habitus capital, etc. What is the meaning of these terms and why are they necessary? This part of the book answers these questions, but it does so in two ways as represented by its two separate chapters.

Chapter 2 sets out to define the basic terms and to explain the issues of theory and practice underlying them. Bourdieu is a sociologist with sociological preoccupations. However, the themes raised in his methodological discussions have implications for the whole of social science research in general and education in particular. This chapter shows how this is so. The intention is to provide a theoretical and conceptual map within which the practical applications in later chapters can be located.

Chapter 3 approaches these theoretical and practical issues from a more philosophical direction. Again, the accent is on showing the way Bourdieu’s ideas have developed in response to a range of key epistemological issues. This discussion is set in a historical context. What the various issues meant for educationalists and the way they responded to Bourdieu’s work is also discussed. The points raised are thus connected to the hot debates of the day. The term epistemology is adopted to indicate the way knowledge is used in and gained from educational research. This knowledge has a different character and status according to the type of approach adopted. The ‘break’ mentioned in the chapter title refers to the attempt to move away from pre-established methodological positions. Why this should be necessary is the central purpose of this chapter. Bourdieu’s own background is also referred to in order to indicate the roots of his main theoretical position. Similar accounts are used later in the book in order to highlight the relationship between the researcher and their research.

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