Bourdieu in american sociology, 1980-2004

Abstract

This article traces the transatlantic diffusion of Pierre Bourdieu's ideas into American sociology. We find that rather than being received as abstract theory, Bourdieu has been actively put to use to generate new empirical research. In addition, American sociologists have used their findings to problematize and extend his theory. Bourdieu's sociology, in other words, has inspired a progressive research program in the United States. We trace this process in the two main forums for presenting research: journal articles and books. Content analysis of articles published in four major sociology journals reveals that, far from a recent fad, Bourdieu's ideas steadily diffused into American sociology between 1980 and 2004. Case studies of four influential books in turn illustrate how researchers have used Bourdieu's key concepts (capital, field, habitus, and symbolic power) to inform debates in four core subfields (political, economic, cultural, and urban sociology).

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