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Bourdieu and Data Analysis

Methodological Principles and Practice

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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Classification, Social Classes and Cultural Practices: A GDA Approach Through Bourdieu’s Sociology of Culture



Recent breakthroughs in the methodology of Geometric Data Analysis (GDA) (especially by Le Roux and Rouanet 2004, Le Roux and Rouanet 2010) allow for the development of the analysis of social space structures as started by Bourdieu during the 1970s. In particular, this work was highlighted in an article published with Monique de Saint-Martin, entitled in French ‘L’anatomie du gout’ (‘an anatomy of taste’) (Bourdieu and de Saint-Martin 1976c), which was afterwards included and expanded in the book La distinction in 1979 (Bourdieu 1984a/79). These breakthroughs are not just methodological refinements which ‘modernize’ an ‘old’ instrument (multiple correspondence analysis) already much used by Bourdieu himself and by numerous members of his ‘team’ (Rouanet et al. 2000, Lebaron 2009). They help to us examine various sociological issues which are at the centre of what can be called, thirty years after the ‘Distinction model’, the issue of the existence of a ‘cultural hierarchy’ and its social determinants. Included here are the relative weight of various types of capital (cultural and economic) as factors of cultural inter-individual variations in lifestyles or, more specifically, the question of the structural homology which characterizes different sub-spaces constituting the global social space.

In this chapter, we focus on the issue of the determination of ‘classes’ of individuals on the basis of cultural practices and their sociological interpretation, especially as regards their (sociological) constituency. It is a form of analysis which has been largely used by Bourdieu since the beginning of...

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