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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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Positions and Position-Takings Among Political Producers:The Field of Political Consultants


← 252 | 253 → DANIEL LAURISON

Positions and Position-Takings Among Political Producers: The Field of Political Consultants


Political consultants are an essential part of the American electoral process. Consultants shape every political message Americans hear in major elections, decide whether and how individuals will be contacted by campaigns, and create the ads flooding television and the internet as elections near. They also advise politicians once they attain elected offices, devise public relations and lobbying strategies for corporate clients, move in and out of the political party organizations, and serve as pundits and in other roles in the media. In other words, political consultants play key roles in the American field of power, producing much of the political culture experienced by ordinary Americans. This work takes its inspiration from Bourdieu’s descriptions of the political field and other fields of cultural production (Bourdieu 1991a, 1993b) as well as from other work on the properties of fields and their relevance for what is produced within them (Fligstein and McAdam 2011; Armstrong and Bernstein 2008).

In this chapter, I ask: is this indeed a field with structures that map onto those found in other fields? And do consultants’ opinions correspond to their positions in the field? I use a specific Multiple Correspondence Analysis (MCA) and find the answer to be ‘yes’ to both questions.

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