Our usual representations of the opposition between the
civilized" and the primitive" derive from willfully ignoring the
relationship of distance our social science sets up between the
observer and the observed. In fact, the author argues, the
relationship between the anthropologist and his object of study is
a particular instance of the relationship between knowing and
doing, interpreting and using, symbolic mastery and practical
masteryor between logical logic, armed with all the accumulated
instruments of objectification, and the universally pre-logical
logic of practice.
In this, his fullest statement of a theory of practice, Bourdieu
both sets out what might be involved in incorporating one's own
standpoint into an investigation and develops his understanding of
the powers inherent in the second member of many oppositional
pairsthat is, he explicates how the practical concerns of daily
life condition the transmission and functioning of social or
The first part of the book, Critique of Theoretical Reason,"
covers more general questions, such as the objectivization of the
generic relationship between social scientific observers and their
objects of study, the need to overcome the gulf between
subjectivism and objectivism, the interplay between structure and
practice (a phenomenon Bourdieu describes via his concept of the
), the place of the body, the manipulation of time,
varieties of symbolic capital, and modes of domination.
The second part of the book, Practical Logics," develops detailed
case studies based on Bourdieu's ethnographic fieldwork in Algeria.
These examples touch on kinship patterns, the social construction
of domestic space, social categories of perception and
classification, and ritualized actions and exchanges.
This book develops in full detail the theoretical positions
sketched in Bourdieu's Outline of a Theory of Practice
. It will be especially useful to readers seeking to grasp the
subtle concepts central to Bourdieu's theory, to theorists
interested in his points of departure from structuralism
(especially fom Lévi-Strauss), and to critics eager to understand
what role his theory gives to human agency. It also reveals
Bourdieu to be an anthropological theorist of considerable
originality and power.