So far in this book we have outlined Bourdieu’s basic theory of practice and discussed its emerging profile in an educational context. We have also offered examples of educational researchers using his theoretical terms and approach in various practical situations; including issues of reflexivity for the researchers involved. In this chapter we go on to explore what constitutes an educational research endeavour from a Bourdieuian perspective. We want to avoid a ‘how to do it’ prescription. It is clear from Part II that there are various ways of using Bourdieu within the scope of the theory he offers. At the same time, the strength of his work and its applicability to educational research can only ultimately be evaluated once it is used in real-life contexts.
In this chapter, we offer some description of the possible stages, techniques and methods for conceptualizing and conducting a research project. Some of these involve issues of principle; others include implications for practice. Out of this discussion, it is intended that a picture will emerge of how to go about carrying out research within a Bourdieu-based framework, and the character and ways of presenting knowledge produced as a result of such an undertaking. The core of this section systematically considers procedures and techniques. Throughout the chapter, we employ Bourdieu’s own voice as a commentary on the issues raised.
We begin by turning our attention to the main theme of the chapter expressed in its title: theory as method.