1st Edition

Bourdieu’s Metanoia Seeing the Social World Anew

By Michael Grenfell Copyright 2023
    240 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    240 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Bourdieu once commented that what was needed was a ‘new gaze’ on the social world – a metanoia. This book describes this view and how to do it. Based on biographical detail and the socio-political contexts which surrounded him, it sets out his vision of society and culture.

    Grounded on the distinction between traditional and modern worlds, it shows how ethnographic experience led Bourdieu to an intellectual epiphany. It demonstrates the growth of his conceptual tools and the emergence of ‘field theory’ in various contexts: law, religion, fashion, sport, culture, fine art, philosophy, literature and politics. The book offers an up-to-date, extensive account of Bourdieu, his work and its significance. It centres on philosophical questions of social experience and intellectual practice. Based around his entire oeuvre, it features recent posthumous publications in French, providing important insights for the first time into his way of viewing the world.

    Including issues of the state, neoliberalism and resistance, this book explores the ways in which the social, philosophical and political came together for Bourdieu to shape how we see ourselves and our place in the contemporary world – a metanoia. Being both an introductory and advanced text, it is a valuable resource for the newcomer to Bourdieu as well as the experienced researcher. It will be of interest to undergraduates, postgraduates, researchers of Bourdieu’s work in the areas of sociology, media, philosophy, religion, economics, architecture, cultural studies, education, music, journalism, gender studies, politics, the law, fine arts and linguistics.

    1. Introduction

    2. Life and Times

    3. Preliminary Field Studies: Algeria, the Béarn, Education, Culture

    4. Philosophy, Anthropology and Sociology

    Interlude I

    Bourdieu and Science: The Particular and the Whole

    5. Field Theory in Action: Law, Religion, Sport, Fashion

    Interlude II

    Symbolic Power and Capitalism

    6. The Anthropologies of France: Taste/Culture, Higher Education

    Interlude III

    Bourdieu and Language

    7. Literature and Art: The Rules of Art (Flaubert, Manet)

    8. The State: Neoliberalism, Acts of Resistance

    9. Metanoia

    Postscript: Principles to Practice

    Afterword: A Personal and Scientific View


    Michael Grenfell is Emeritus Professor at the University of Southampton.

    "While Grenfell’s body of work on Bourdieu is already impressive, it is Metanoia that truly changes the way we think about him. Bourdieu wasn’t just a theorist who described the ways in which inequalities and violence work symbolically below our awareness, or how our practices contribute to the reproduction of our own domination. As Grenfell shows in this comprehensive account of his life and work, Bourdieu was a theorist of social and political change. He wanted a different world, and it is this book that finally helps us to see that world and how we can work toward it."

    Dan Schubert, Dickinson University, Pennsylvania, USA

    "This is a major contribution to our understanding of Pierre Bourdieu’s work. Both experienced scholars and curious beginners will find much of value here. In tracing the origins of Bourdieu’s thinking back to his early experiences, Grenfell teases out the development of his theory of practice through analyses of French institutions and demonstrates how Bourdieu’s thinking has both historical and contemporary relevance. By framing this as metanoia, Grenfell successfully highlights the radical nature of the ‘new gaze’ that Bourdieu brought to bear on society and the enduring value of this perspective."

    Gee Macrory, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK