The Kabyle and the French: Occidentalism
in Bourdieu's Theory of Practice
The division of labour between those who study the West and those who study the Rest is rarely so strikingly found to reside within the work of a single person as it does in the case of Pierre Bourdieu. Bourdieu has done ethnographic research among the Kabyle peoples of Algeria, but has also contributed to the sociological analysis of Western Europe (most notably, by studying those renowned producers of High Culture--the French bourgeoisie). For several decades, Bourdieu has been developing an influential theory of the relationship between culture and power, through an examination of cultural practices and 'common-sense' understandings of the world. His approach, particularly with the concept of 'habitus' (the internalized predispositions of one's social group), claims to privilege neither structure nor individual agency in social analysis, and, indeed, seeks to break down such dualisms ( Bourdieu and Wacquant 1992: 178-9). My argument in this chapter will be that Bourdieu has none the less used, and thereby perpetuated, a different kind of dualism in his work.
I shall compare two of Bourdieu's most famous books, produced at approximately the same moment in his career, and suggest that they illustrate the use of a paired occidentalism and orientalism in their analyses of French and Kabyle society. My discussion will centre on the texts of Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture, co-written with JeanClaude Passeron and based upon a sociological study of secondary education in France, and Outline of a Theory of Practice, drawn from ethnographic research among the Kabyle peoples of Algeria. These books are significant in establishing Bourdieu's career and, as Richard Jenkins has recently written, it was through them that he 'acquired his international reputation--as a social theorist, an ethnographer of Algeria and a sociological observer of Modern France' ( Jenkins 1993: 617). The French version of Reproduction was first published in 1970 and that of Outline in