"The real is relational": An epistemological analysis of Pierre Bourdieu's generative structuralism

Sociological Theory 17 (1):32-67 (1999)
Abstract
An internal reconstruction and an immanent critique of Bourdieu's generative structuralism is presented. Rather than starting with the concept of "habitus," as is usually done, the article tries to systematically reconstruct Bourdieu's theory by an analysis of the relational logic that permeates his whole work. Tracing the debt Bourdieu's approach owes to Bachelard's rationalism and Cassirer's relationalism, the article examines Bourdieu's epistemological writings of the 1960s and 70s. It tries to make the case that Bourdieu's sociological metascience represents a rationalist version of Bhaskar's critical realism, and enjoins Bourdieu to give heed to the realist turn in the philosophy of the natural and the social sciences. The article shows how Bourdieu's epistemological assumptions are reflected in his primary theoretical constructs of "habitus" and "field." To concretize their discussion, it analyzes Bourdieu's reinterpretation of Weber in his theory of the field of religion and of the young Mannheim in his theory of the scientific field
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Frédéric Vandenberghe (2009). Realism in One Country? Journal of Critical Realism 8 (2):203-232.
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