Bourdieu and the media: the promise and limits of field theory
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Little more than a decade ago the common wisdom was that the great French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu had neglected media.1 The publication in English in 1998 of Bourdieu’s polemic On Television and Journalism2 hardly altered this assumption, since it was widely, if rather unkindly given that it is clearly a popularizing work, rejected by media scholars as superficial. Yet already for more than a decade, followers of Bourdieu had been producing a great deal of original but untranslated research into the journalistic field.3 With Benson and Neveu’s book, this neglected tradition of work emerges fully for the first time into the world of English-speaking media and social research.
In spite of the common wisdom, there was nothing surprising about the Bourdieu research tradition’s intense interest in media. Bourdieu stands alone among the major sociologists of the late twentieth century in his interest in the symbolic dimensions of power. In later political commentary, he saw media...