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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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Conclusion to Part III

Extract



Part III shows the fertility of the combination of a sociological theoretical programme inspired by Bourdieu, as presented in Part I, and the appropriate use of Geometric Data Analysis techniques.

GDA techniques allow us to operationalize empirically the concepts of social space and field and to substantiate statistically the relations between dispositions and practices, positions and position-takings, trajectories and lifestyles, actors and discourses.

Since the 1970s, Bourdieu and his colleagues have made a systematic and important use of these techniques, especially Multiple Correspondence Analysis (MCA): his first article referring to GDA was ‘L’anatomie du gout’ (1976c) with Monique de Saint-Martin, republished in La distinction (1979). Then came the article ‘Le patronat’, with Monique de Saint-Martin, in 1978. After these two major publications of empirical results which are clearly strongly based on GDA methods, Bourdieu published the results of two MCAs in Homo academicus (1984) in order to study the universe of academics; he completed his analysis of ‘Le patronat’ in La noblesse d’Etat (1989) with a series of CAs and MCAs. He also published the results of GDA methods in a large collective study about the field of real estate companies and public policies in France (Bourdieu et al. 1990; Bourdieu 2000). It is no surprise that Bourdieu used these techniques in: 1) an investigation about cultural practices and lifestyles; 2) a study of dominant groups (economic and intellectual elites); and 3) the (economic) sociology of a ‘market’ and a public policy sector.

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