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D. Broady, Sociologi och epistemologi, 2 ed. 1991, Summary


The following is a HTML version of the English summary, pp. 579-582, in Donald Broady,
ociologi och epistemologi.Om Pierre Bourdieus författarskap och den historiska epistemologin , 2 ed. 1991.
(Sociology and Epistemology. On Pierre Bourdieu's work and the historical epistemology).


Broady, D.: Sociologi och epistemologi. Om Pierre Bourdieus författarskap och den historiska epistemologin (Sociology and Epistemology. On Pierre Bourdieu's work and the historical epistemology). 645 pp. Stockholm: HLS Förlag, second edition 1991. ISBN 91-7656-269-7.


Chapter I ('Background'), is a survey of the social and institutional conditions surrounding Pierre Bourdieu's project. The aim of this chapter is not to point out influences or forerunners but, rather, to reconstruct the vacant space that Bourdieu's sociology eventually occupied.

At a given time and place an intellectual universe can be regarded as an objective field of positions. From an individual's point of view, however, the same universe appears as a subjective field of possibilities, some of which are deemed worth striving for, others are regarded as impossible, inferior or dishonourable, and others still are simply invisible. In the 1950's and 1960's Bourdieu - like other young philosophers following a similar elevated trajectory through the educational system - came to be repelled by the existentialism suffusing intellectual circles, as well as by the traditional 'subject philosophies' (Cartesian, Kantian, Bergsonian) cultivated at the universities. Instead, the philosophy of the natural sciences and mathematics, and notably the so-called historical epistemology instigated by Gaston Bachelard and Georges Canguilhem, functioned as a magnet for these young men. Some of them, like Bourdieu, withdrew from philosophy and converted to the social sciences and to empirical research. Here, Bourdieu's sociology was to occupy a position that, both socially and intellectually, had affinities with the position of the first Durkheimian generation, notably the research-orientated fraction that included Mauss, H. Hubert, Simiand, Halbwachs, Granet and others. The Durkheimians' reputation had steadily declined from the 1930's, leaving a vacant space in French sociology, to some extent now occupied by the Bourdieu school.


Chapter II ('The work and the reception') comprises an overview of Bourdieu's published writings. Following a biographical note, it identifies three periods. The first period, 1958-66, is marked by a series of empirical investigations by Bourdieu and his collaborators; the second by synthetic and theoretical studies; and the third, which dates from around 1975, by a productive fusion of theoretical and empirical work. A distinctive shift also occurred in the early 1980's, as Bourdieu began to intervene in cultural and educational policy, thereby transgressing the limits of his circumspect sociological project.

The final sections of chapter II discuss the reception of Bourdieu's work outside France; with bibliometric information assessing its reception among social scientists in the United States.


Chapter III ('Key concepts') is divided into three main sections: 'Capital,' 'Habitus,' and 'Field.' Each section contains a short preliminary definition, a discussion of the concept in the mature work (viz. the 'third period') of Bourdieu and his collaborators, philological observations (when, how, and why were these terms gradually - and unevenly - introduced into Bourdieu's writings?), and, finally, each section contains detailed examination of the genesis of these concepts and their links with cognate traditions in philosophy and the social sciences.

Symbolic capital, cultural capital, habitus, field, strategy, misrecognition etc, are neither empiricist notions,, labels denoting raw empirical phenomena]]] nor bricks in a formalized theory. Bourdieu's concepts should be conceived as research tools to be used as part of the sociologist's craft, or, more exactly, as condensed research programmes. They are not concepts which are first invented or borrowed and then 'applied' in empirical research. They emerged within a comprehensive and extensive empirical research practice. Indeed, the kernel of Bourdieu's conceptual apparatus and terminology did not assume a stable form until after the mid-1960's, i.e., after a decade of empirical research.

As indicated, Bourdieu has infused fresh life into the Durkheimian heritage. His work, however, also draws upon other traditions. It retains, as an undercurrent, resonances with the phenomenological tradition. It has affinities with Weberianism, especially the emphasis on the problems of legitimacy. It relates to Marxism, although Bourdieu's view of Marxism could be characterized as a readiness to address questions posed by marxists combined with a disbelief in their answers. Bourdieu's relation to structuralism is more complicated. His texts over a short period during the 1960's bear uncompromising structuralist traits, which do not appear in the earlier or the later works. On the whole his project has been a parallel to, rather than an outgrowth of, the movement inaugurated by Lévi-Strauss. This parallellism can to a large extent be explained by the fact that Bourdieu had found in earlier traditions - the Durkheimians, the historical epistemology, the Marburgians - theoretical positions corresponding to those annexed by the orthodox structuralists.


Chapter IV ('Historical epistemology') is a digression that temporarily sets aside Bourdieu's work to examine the French tradition in the philosophy of the natural sciences and mathematics represented by Pierre Duhem, Gaston Bachelard, Jean Cavaillès, Georges Canguilhem, Alexandre Koyré, and others. The primary focus is on the works of Bachelard, Cavaillès, and Canguilhem. The chapter is divided into six sections, corresponding to major themes in their philosophies. Section 1 claims that the historical epistemology can be usefully characterised as 'applied rationalism'. Ratio is given priority, with an explicit appreciation that scientific thought must also be corrected and developed (i.e. 'applied') through its confrontation with the object of its endeavour. Section 2 elaborates the historical epistemologists' claim that scientific thought must be autonomous - strictly separated from both traditional philosophical doctrines and common sense knowledge. Section 3 discusses the claim that such rupturing of habitual forms of thought is necessary to surpass 'epistemological obstacles'. Section 4 examines the proposition that rigorous scientific work entails the analysis of systems of relations, rather than the investigation of the separate elements. Section 5 reports the historical epistemologists' view that each science constructs its own objects - such objects may not be taken for granted nor imported from other disciplines or from common sense knowledge. Section 6 considers that, as its name suggests, historical epistemology always locates the subject of scientific knowledge within a specific time and a specific place, and within the flesh and blood of scholars working in their relatively autonomous scientific disciplines. It eschews efforts to achieve a unified science, and it abjures any transcendental notion of the subject of scientific knowledge.


Chapter V ('An epistemology for the social sciences') concludes that the adoption of a reflexive epistemology is the alpha and omega of Bourdieu's craft of sociology. His work, that is, is underpinned by a theory of the conditions, limits, and possibilities of sociological knowledge. In short Bourdieu's project has been an attempt to provide a reflexive epistemology for the social sciences, comparable in effect to the renewal of the philosophy of mathematics and the natural sciences carried out by Bachelard and his followers. To facilitate comparisons with historical epistemology chapter V is divided into six sections, corresponding to those of the previous chapter. Thus, the first section examines Bourdieu's version of 'applied rationalism'; the second the specificity of sociological knowledge and its separation from traditional philosophical doctrines and common sense knowledge; the third the specific epistemological obstacles encountered by the sociologist; the fourth Bourdieu's emphasis on systems of relations; the fifth the proposition that sociologists have to construct their own objects, and the final section problems surrounding the subject of sociological knowledge. Overall, the most challenging feature of Bourdieu's sociology is the all-pervasive stance of reflexivity adopted throughout his work.

In connection with the discussion of Bourdieu's relationism, emphasis is placed upon his use of statistical methods and techniques (especially the correspondence analysis) developed by Jean-Paul Benzécri. These methods and techniques are well fitted to mapping systems of relations, which is why Bourdieu and his collaborators have made extensive use of them since the mid-1970's.


The bibliography at the end of the volume is constructed according to the principles laid out in chapter II. It serves as a tool in the examination of the genesis and development of Bourdieu's methods, concepts, and terminology. Hence, the purpose of the bibliography is to record the complete body of Bourdieu's 'unique' published texts (1958-1987). Even minor texts, as well as substantial changes in different editions of one and the same text are included, whereas reprints and translations without appreciable revisions are omitted. Hence, this bibliography - different from the standard Bourdieu-bibliography of Yvette Delsaut - prefigures the kind of work that will be required whenever someone undertakes the preparation of a critical edition of Bourdieu's collected works.


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