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This is the second of five volumes based on the lectures given by Pierre Bourdieu at the College de France in the early 1980s under the title ‘General Sociology’. In these lectures, Bourdieu sets out to define and defend sociology as an intellectual discipline, and in doing so he introduces and clarifies all the key concepts which have come to define his distinctive intellectual approach.
In this volume, Bourdieu focuses on two of his most important and influential concepts: habitus and field. For the social scientist, the object of study is neither the individual nor the group but the relation between these two manifestations of the social in bodies and in things: that is, the obscure, dual relation between the habitus – as a system of schemas of perception, appreciation and action – and the field as a system of objective relations and a space of possible actions and struggles aimed at preserving or transforming the field. The relation between the habitus and the field is a two-way process: it is a relation of conditioning, where the field structures the habitus, and it is also a relation of knowledge, with the habitus helping to constitute the field as a world that is endowed with meaning and value. The specificity of social science lies in the fact that it takes as its object of knowledge a reality that encompasses agents who take this same reality as the object of their own knowledge.
An ideal introduction to some of Bourdieu’s most important concepts and ideas, this volume will be of great interest to the many students and scholars who study and use Bourdieu’s work across the social sciences and humanities, and to general readers who want to know more about the work of one of the most important sociologists and social thinkers of the 20th century.