Book: Bourdieu and Historical Analysis

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Bourdieu and Historical Analysis

Edited by Philip S. Gorski, professor of sociology

(Duke University Press)

The French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu had a broader theoretical agenda than is generally acknowledged. Introducing this collection of essays, Philip S. Gorski argues that Bourdieu’s reputation as a theorist of social reproduction is the misleading result of his work’s initial reception among Anglophone readers, who focused primarily on his mid-career thought. A broader view of his entire body of work reveals Bourdieu as a theorist of social transformation as well. Gorski maintains that Bourdieu was initially engaged with the question of social transformation and that the question of historical change not only never disappeared from his view, but that it re-emerged with great force at the end of his career.

The contributors to “Bourdieu and Historical Analysis” explore this expanded understanding of Bourdieu’s thought and its potential contributions to analyses of large-scale social change and historical crisis. Their essays offer a primer on his concepts and methods, and relate them to alternative approaches, including rational choice, Lacanian psychoanalysis, pragmatism, Latour’s actor-network theory, and the “new” sociology of ideas. Several contributors examine Bourdieu’s work on literature and sports. Others extend his thinking in new directions, applying it to nationalism and social policy.