, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 1-44
Date: 09 Jan 2008

Bourdieu and organizational analysis

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Abstract

Despite some promising steps in the right direction, organizational analysis has yet to exploit fully the theoretical and empirical possibilities inherent in the writings of Pierre Bourdieu. While certain concepts associated with his thought, such as field and capital, are already widely known in the organizational literature, the specific ways in which these terms are being used provide ample evidence that the full significance of his relational mode of thought has yet to be sufficiently apprehended. Moreover, the almost complete inattention to habitus, the third of Bourdieu’s major concepts, without which the concepts of field and capital (at least as he deployed them) make no sense, further attests to the misappropriation of his ideas and to the lack of appreciation of their potential usefulness. It is our aim in this paper, by contrast, to set forth a more informed and comprehensive account of what a relational – and, in particular, a Bourdieu-inspired – agenda for organizational research might look like. Accordingly, we examine the implications of his theoretical framework for interorganizational relations, as well as for organizations themselves analyzed as fields. The primary advantage of such an approach, we argue, is the central place accorded therein to the social conditions under which inter- and intraorganizational power relations are produced, reproduced, and contested.

Emirbayer and Johnson are equal co-authors of this article