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Bourdieu and Data Analysis

Methodological Principles and Practice

Edited By Michael Grenfell and Frédéric Lebaron

Uniquely amongst the numerous publications to appear on the work of the French social theorist Pierre Bourdieu, this book deals with data analysis, examining a range of techniques and instruments. After an introductory chapter outlining the key principles of Bourdieu’s theory, the book presents detailed examples of data being collected and analysed in a Bourdieusian way across various social science contexts. Both qualitative and quantitative methods are addressed, including analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of each method, as are common data collection procedures such as interview, observation and questionnaire. Examples of Multiple Correspondence Analysis are an important feature of the book, since this was an approach particularly favoured by Bourdieu. In each case study, the pros and cons of different approaches are highlighted and the qualitative/quantitative debate is thoroughly explored. Overall, the book offers readers a blueprint to develop their own methodological plans for using Bourdieu in research practice.


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Michael Grenfell and Frédéric Lebaron Introduction


Interest in the work of the French social theorist, Pierre Bourdieu, has con- tinued to grow since his untimely death in 2002. At this time, Bourdieu had risen from being a relatively obscure French sociologist in the 1960s to an intellectual star of international repute. He had long since been acknowledged in the principal fields of his research – Algeria, Education and Culture. However, since his death, as well as continued extensions and applications of his work in these areas, it is now not uncommon to discover major discussions of his ideas in such diverse disciplines as theol- ogy, geography, media and journalism, the arts, language, economics, poli- tics, history, and philosophy. Of course, some of these fields were indeed discussed by Bourdieu himself, sometimes as preliminary remarks, some- times more extensively. However, many remained undeveloped by him. Subsequent researchers have then been able to develop his initial ideas more comprehensibly. In other areas, bringing a Bourdieusian lens to traditional preoccupations has required a whole new conceptualization from a per- spective derived from his theory of practice. Here, we are able to observe the potential of Bourdieu’s approach to elucidate a wide range of themes and topics within the social sciences. Much of the work presented in this book is of this type. Bourdieu was probably the most ‘empirical’ of the celebrated intellectu- als of the late twentieth century. Work across his career is often exemplified with copious analyses collected in field contexts and analysed from various directions. However, Bourdieu was,...

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