Bourdieu’s theory of social fields is one of his key contributions to social sciences and humanities. However, it has never been subjected to genuine critical examination. This book fills that gap and offers a clear and wide-ranging introduction to the theory. It includes a critical discussion of its methodology and relevance in different subject areas in the social sciences and humanities.
Part I "theoretical investigations" offers a theoretical account of the theory, while also identifying some of its limitations and discussing several strategies to overcome them. Part II "Education, culture and organization" presents the theory at work and highlights its advantages and disadvantages. The focus in Part III devoted to "The State" is on the formation and evolution of the State and public policy in different contexts. The chapters show the usefulness of field theory in describing, explaining and understanding the functioning of the State at different stages in its historical trajectory including its recent redefinition with the advent of the neoliberal age. A last chapter outlines a postcolonial use of the theory of fields.
Table of Contents
Introduction to Pierre Bourdieu’s Theory of Social Fields Mathieu Hilgers and Eric Mangez Part I: Theoretical Investigations 1.Was Bourdieu a Field Theorist? John Levi Martin and Forest Gregg 2.The Limits of the Field: Elements for a Theory of the Social Differentiation of Activities Bernard Lahire 3. The Field: a Leibnizian Perspective in Sociology Louis Pinto Part II: Education, Culture And Organization 4. Collective Agents in the School Field: Positions, Dispositions and Position-taking, in Educational and Vocational Guidance Géraldine André and Mathieu Hilgers 5.The Literary Field between the State and the Market Gisele Sapiro 6. A Heuristic Tool: On the Use of the Concept of the Field in Two Studies of Culture Julien Duval Part III: The State And Public Policy 7.The Field of Power and the Relative Autonomy of Social Fields. The Case of Belgium Eric Mangez and Georges Liénard 8. The Fields of Public Policy Vincent Dubois 9.Field Theory and Organizational Power: Four Modes of Influence among Public Policy "Think Tanks" Thomas Medvetz 10. Crafting the Neoliberal State Workfare, Prisonfare and Social Insecurity Loïc Wacquant Afterword: Theory of Fields in the Postcolonial Age Mathieu Hilgers and Eric Mangez
Mathieu Hilgers is Associate Professor at Université Libre de Bruxelles (Anthropology) and has been visiting researcher in many universities, more recently at Harvard University and University of London (Goldsmiths). His research focuses on the relationship between urbanization, capitalism and state building and discusses theory on globalization, social class and neoliberalism. He has published more than 45 papers in scientific journals and books some of which specifically discuss the work of Bourdieu. His most recent book is Une Ethnographie à l’échelle de la ville (Paris, Karthala, 2009)
Eric Mangez is Professor of Sociology at the University of Louvain (UCL), Belgium, where he teaches sociological theory, research method, and political sociology. He has published several papers and books that exploit Bourdieu’s field theory. He is author of Réformer les contenus d’enseignement. Une sociologie du curriculum (Paris: PUF, 2008) and co-editor of the World Yearbook of Education 2014.