Sociology as reflexive science: on Bourdieu’s project


Robbins, Derek 2007. Sociology as reflexive science: on Bourdieu’s project. Theory, Culture and Society. 24 (5), pp. 77-98.
AuthorsRobbins, Derek

The article focuses on the fact that the consequence of Bourdieu’s death is that we now have to respond specifically to the texts that he produced between 1958 and 2002, rather than to the impact of writing and political action in combination, which was his goal during his life. The article raises general questions about the status of social texts in relation to the practices of philosophy and social scientific enquiry to which Bourdieu must have returned in preparing his final course of lectures, published in 2001 as Science de la science et r�flexivit�. It then offers three case studies of this relationship in action in Bourdieu’s early work, considering his textual and scientific practices. It discusses aspects of the contemporary philosophical debate about the referentiality of texts at the time of this early work and thus indicates that this was a question of continuous importance in Bourdieu’s work. The article next reflects on the significance of Bourdieu’s thinking in this respect for the ways in which we should now respond to his texts and deploy his concepts empirically. It takes three examples of different ways in which Bourdieu’s texts have become pretexts for further research practice. These are characterized as ‘academic exploitation’, ‘nominal appropriation’ and ‘informed divergence’. The conclusion is that Bourdieu’s work demands a reflexive response, which requires that respondents should analyse rigorously their own situations and the grounds for transferring received concepts, and that this entails detailed attention to both Bourdieu’s texts and the contexts of their production, rather than a superficial exploitation or appropriation of his ‘consecrated’ texts.

KeywordsBouveresse; contexts; Lyotard; Merleau-Ponty; Wittgenstein
JournalTheory, Culture and Society
Journal citation24 (5), pp. 77-98
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Deposited19 Jan 2010
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Robbins, D. (2007) ‘Sociology as reflexive science: on Bourdieu’s project’, Theory, Culture and Society, 24 (5) 77-98.

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