Pierre Bourdieu: Habitus, Capital and Field

Topics: Sociology, Pierre Bourdieu / Pages: 9 (2026 words) / Published: Dec 7th, 2010
Pierre Bourdieu was an acclaimed French sociologist, anthropologist and philosopher, who is still noted today as being one of the most prominent and influential intellects in recent years. He is famous for his contributions to many subjects and areas, and much of his work is still considered today as being classics. His work is considered to be some of the most innovative and groundbreaking bodies of theory and research in contemporary social science. He is still prominent today for his many great contributions to the field of sociology, and though he has many revolutionary concepts, this essay will focus on three; Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus, capital and field, and a key sociological factor these concepts help to explain. These three concepts have been continually developed throughout all of Bourdieu’s work.
Habitus
Habitus is one of Bourdieu’s landmark concepts, and is considered one of his greatest contributions to the field of sociology. Habitus is a sociological concept that has been in use for many years; even Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosopher, was familiar with the concept and developed his own theory on the concept of habitus. The concept has been adapted and reiterated by many prominent sociologists over the years, including Max Weber, Norbert Elias and Marcel Mauss. Mauss’ theory of habitus inspired Bourdieu; but Bourdieu developed the theory further and thus differences in the two concepts by the two different sociologists can be found. Mauss described habitus as the aspects of culture that are anchored in the body, or daily practises by individuals, groups, societies and nations. It is, according to Mauss, the set of habits, tastes and customs that lie beneath the surface of rational ideology. These habits and customs include most aspects of a person’s daily life, including speech and movement. Bourdieu was influenced by the work of these great and influential sociologists, however he developed his own theory that was different and arguably



Bibliography: * Bourdieu, Pierre ‘In other words; Essays Towards a Reflexive Sociology’ (Stanford University Press, 1990). * Fowler, Bridget ‘Pierre Bourdieu and Cultural Theory: Critical Investigations’ (Sage, 1997). * Grenfell, Michael ‘Pierre Bourdieu, Agent Provocateur’ (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2004). * Reed-Danahay, Deborah ‘Locating Bourdieu: New Anthropologies of Europe’ (Indiana University Press, 2005). * Smart, John C ‘Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research’ (Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2009) * Swartz, David ‘Culture & Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu’ (University Of Chicago Press, 1997).

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