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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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Bourdieu and Data Analysis


Those who classify themselves or others, by appropriating or classifying practices or properties that are classified and classifying, cannot be unaware that, through distinctive objects or practices in which their powers are expressed and which, being appropriated by and appropriate to classes, classify those who appropriate them, they classify themselves in the eyes of other classifying (but also classifiable) subjects, endowed with classificatory schemes analogous to those which enable them more or less adequately to anticipate their own classification.

— BOURDIEU 1984a: 484


This chapter offers a conceptual introduction to Bourdieu and data analysis. It sets out key stages in approaching any research topic from a perspective developed from his theory of practice. Behind this perspective lay Bourdieu’s vision to build a ‘new social gaze’ on the social world, what he referred to as a metanoia. Key components in this approach are how we construct the research object and the place that participant objectivation plays in research. The chapter considers these as elements in a three-stage methodology, which also includes at its core Field Analysis, itself explicated in terms of three levels – of a field with respect to the field of power, the structure of the field itself, and the habitus of those occupying positions within that field. These stages and levels are discussed later in the chapter. First, however, we consider Bourdieu’s conceptual thinking tools; not so much in terms of their full range and meaning, which is already accomplished ← 7...

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