Jane Zavisca, Jeffrey J. Sallaz

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From the Margins to the Mainstream. The Curious Convergence of Pierre Bourdieu and US Sociology

  • Abstract

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Keywords: Bourdieu, sociology, field, diffusion, knowledge, United States of America.

Over the past several decades, the sociological project pioneered by the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu has entered the field of US sociology. In this paper we ask how and why this occurred. We describe two historical trajectories - that of the institutional field of US sociology, and that of Bourdieu as a biographical individual - as well as the ways in which the two have intersected. Such points of convergence have in fact been moments of mutual influence. For on the one hand, Bourdieu's sociology took form through engagement with the American tradition of social science; while on the other, Bourdieu's ideas have been selectively adopted (and often creatively reinterpreted) by researchers in the US. Drawing upon original primary data, we summarize precisely how Bourdieu has been "put to use" in research published in US journals and books since 1980. Also discussed are current trends and the future potential for a Bourdieuian sociology in America.

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