The American Sociologist

, Volume 48, Issue 3–4, pp 436–452 | Cite as

From False Premises to False Conclusions. On Pierre Bourdieu’s Alleged Sociological Determinism



Pierre Bourdieu’s sociological determinism is a recurrent issue in French as well as in Anglo-Saxon sociology. Accusations of ‘determinism’ are very often coupled with the enunciation of a mechanistic and rigid structuralist vision of society which would result in a ‘reproductivist’ approach of social relations. In such a perspective, social change would be hardly possible. Without ignoring Bourdieu’s particular attention to structural constraints, in this article my intention will be to refute the accusations of social determinism by showing in a synthetic manner why it would be if not completely erroneous, but at least simplistic to define Pierre Bourdieu’s sociology as one only focusing on reproductive tendencies and thus being incapable of dealing with the possibility of social change.


Pierre Bourdieu Social theory Determinism Reproduction Habitus 


  1. Accardo, A. (2003). Un savant engagé. Awal, 27-28, 15–24.Google Scholar
  2. Alexander, J. C. (1995). Fin-de-siècle social theory: Relativism, reduction and the problem of reason. London/New York: Verso.Google Scholar
  3. Alexander, J. C. (2000). La réduction. Critique de Bourdieu. Paris: Les Éditions Du Cerf.Google Scholar
  4. Badouin, J. (2012): Pierre Bourdieu. Quand l’intelligence entrait enfin en politique ! 1982-2002. Paris: Les Editions du Cerf.Google Scholar
  5. Bohman, J. (2011). Réflexivité, agentivité et contrainte. In Michel de Fornel et Albert Ogien (eds.): Bourdieu, théoricien de la pratique. Paris: Éditions de l'EHESS.Google Scholar
  6. Boltanski, L. (2008). Rendre la réalité inacceptable. Paris: Demopolis.Google Scholar
  7. Boltanski, L. (2011). On critique. A sociology of emancipation. Cambridge/Malden: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  8. Boschetti, A. (2005). Des deux Marx aux deux Bourdieu. Critique d’un mythe malveillant. In: Gérard Mauger (dir.): Rencontres avec Bourdieu. Broissieux: Editions du Croquant, pp. 121–141.Google Scholar
  9. Bourdieu, P. (1980). The logic of practice. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Bourdieu, P. (1990). In other words. Essays towards a reflexive sociology. Stanford: Sanford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Bourdieu, P. (1993). Sociology in question. London, Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  12. Bourdieu, P. (1995). Outline of a theory of practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Bourdieu, P. (1996). Distinction. A social critique of the judgement of taste. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Bourdieu, P. (1998): Contre la destruction d’une civilisation [against the destruction of a civilisation]. In P. Bourdieu: Contre-feux. Propos pour servir à la résistance contre l'invasion néo-libérale. Paris: Liber-Raisons d'Agir.Google Scholar
  15. Bourdieu, P. (2000). Pascalian Meditations. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Bourdieu, P. (2002): Si le monde social m’est insupportable, c’est parce que je peux m’indigner [if I find the social world insupportable, it is because I can be outraged]. [interview with Antoine spire]. Paris: Editions de l’Aube.Google Scholar
  17. Bourdieu, P. (2008). The bachelors’ ball. The crisis of peasant Society in Béarn. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  18. Bourdieu, P., & Sayad, A. (1964). Le Déracinement. In La crise de l’agriculture traditionnelle en Algérie (the uprooting: The crisis of traditional agriculture in Algeria). Paris: Minuit.Google Scholar
  19. Bourdieu, P., & Boltanski, L. (1976). La production de l’idéologie dominante. Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 2(2), 3–73.Google Scholar
  20. Bourdieu, P., & Passeron, J.-C. (2000). Reproduction in education, society and culture. London, Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  21. Bourdieu, P., & Wacquant, L. J. D. (1992). An invitation to reflexive sociology. Chicago: Chicago University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Bourdieu, P., et al. (1999). The weight of the world. Social suffering in contemporary society. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Bourdieu, P., & Chartier, R. (2002). Interview in ‛Les lundis de l'histoire’, France Culture, August 3rd.Google Scholar
  24. Bourdieu, P., & Chartier, R. (2015). The sociologist and the historian. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  25. Durkheim, E. (1951). Suicide. A study in sociology. Glencoe: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  26. Elias, N. (1993). Mozart. Portrait of a Genious. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  27. Fabiani, J-L. (2016): Pierre Bourdieu. Un structuralisme héroïque. Paris: Seuil.Google Scholar
  28. Fuchs, C. (2003). Some implications of Pierre Bourdieu’s works for a theory of social self-organization. European Journal of Social Theory, 6(4), 387–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lane, J. F. (2000). Pierre Bourdieu. A Critical Introduction. London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  30. Garrigou, Alain (2012): Un jeune homme en colère in: Mauger, Gérard (éd.) (2012): Rencontres avec Pierre Bourdieu. Bellecombes-en-Bauges: Éditions du Croquant.Google Scholar
  31. Gruel, L. (2005). Pierre Bourdieu illusionniste. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes.Google Scholar
  32. Heller, M., & Rényi, Á. (2002). A nyilvánosság problematikája Pierre Bourdieu műveiben (The Problematic of the Public Sphere in Pierre Bourdieu’s Works). In G. Felkai, A. Molnár, & E. Pál (Eds.), Forrásvidékek. Budapest: Új Mandátum.Google Scholar
  33. Jenkins, R. (1992). Pierre Bourdieu. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. King, A. (2000). Thinking with Bourdieu against Bourdieu: A ‘practical’ critique of the habitus. Sociological Theory, 18, 417–443.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Mannheim, K. (1979). Ideology and utopia. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  36. Mounier, P. (2001). Pierre Bourdieu. Une introduction. Paris: Pocket/La Découverte.Google Scholar
  37. Ogien, A. (2011): L’antinomie oubliée. Ou la critique sociale a-t-elle besoin d’une théorie de la pratique ? [The Forgotten Contradiction. Or Does Social Critique Need a Theory of Practice ?] in: Formel, M. de and Ogien, A. (ed.): Bourdieu, théoricien de la pratique. Paris: Editions de l’EHESS.Google Scholar
  38. Sartre, J-P. (1956): Being and nothingness. An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology. New York: Philosophical Library.Google Scholar
  39. Verdès-Leroux, J. (1998). Le savant et la politique. Le terrorisme sociologique de Pierre Bourdieu. Paris: Editions Grasset.Google Scholar
  40. Verdrager, P. (2010). Ce que les savants pensent de nous et pourquoi ils ont tort. Critique de Bourdieu. Paris: La Découverte.Google Scholar
  41. Wacquant, L. (1989): Towards a reflexive sociology: A workshop with Pierre Bourdieu, Sociological Theory (7): 1, Spring.Google Scholar
  42. Wacquant, L. (2001). Further notes on Bourdieu’s Marxism. International Journal of Contemporary Sociology, 38, 1.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.EHESSParisFrance
  2. 2.ELTEBudapestHungary

Personalised recommendations