The Sociological Life of Pierre Bourdieu

Pierre Bourdieu both brilliantly illustrated and bluntly belied his distinctive social theories with a brimful life that, through unlikely twists and long-winding turns, was anchored by an abiding  commitment to science, intellectual institution-building, and social justice. He had a sociologically and academically improbable trajectory. As Raymond Aron was fond of saying, Bourdieu was an exception to the laws of the transmission of cultural capital that he established in his early books (with Jean-Claude Passeron) The Inheritors and Reproduction in Education, Society, and Culture: the grandson and son of sharecroppers from a marginal province, he rose to the apex of the French cultural pyramid and became the world’s most cited living social scientist. Reared to join the high caste of philosophers, the supreme intellectual species in postwar France, he embraced instead the lowly and then-moribund discipline of sociology, which he helped revitalize and renew, and whose influence in the public sphere he extended like no one before him. Yet Bourdieu also embodied many of his signal theoretical innovations and teachings in his own scientific practice and output. His view that social action is governed by dispositions acquired by durable immersion in social games finds expression in his insistence and ability to fuse high-level theoretical work with mundane research activities.



About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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