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STRUCTURALISM AND THEORY OF SOCIOLOGICAL KNOWLEDGE

Author(s): PIERRE BOURDIEU and Angela Zanotti-Karp


Reviewed work(s):
Source: Social Research, Vol. 35, No. 4, FocusConservative Approaches in the Human Sciences
(WINTER 1968), pp. 681-706
Published by: The New School
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40969937 .
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THE INTERNATIONAL SCENE: CURRENT TRENDS


IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES

STRUCTURALISM AND THEORY OF


SOCIOLOGICAL KNOWLEDGE*
BY PIERRE

BOURDIEU

researchcalled
of thetrendin anthropological
JLhe originality
said
on
to
structuralism
be
rest,paradoxically, thefactthatit
may
to wipingout the fictitious
has greatlycontributed
originality
to
bythespontaneous
assigned anthropological
knowledge
theory
ofsucha knowledge.The riskofunderestimating
or overestimatwhicharenotmutually
ing(twoalternatives
exclusive)theoriginof
this
which
deserves
less
thanmathematics
trend,
ality
reasonably
or modernphysicsthenameof structuralism,
is due to thefact
thattheprinciples
it hasstirred
or
constituted
up again expressly
in theirspecifically
formare diametrically
anthropological
opposed to the spontaneous
theoryof knowledgeof man and of
whenanthropology
to found
undertakes
society.Consequently,
itselfupon principles
thatultimately
are thoseof any theoryof
it
scientific
has
to
overcome
obstacles
knowledge,
epistemological
thatare notcomparable
withthosefacedbythenaturalsciences.
of strucProperlyto appraisethe theoreticalcontribution
in oppositionto theusual waysof
we mustintroduce,
turalism,
a clear-cutdistinction
betweentheoryof sociological
thinking,
and
of
the
social
The theory
ofsociologiknowledge theory
system.
cal knowledge,
ofprinciples
as thesystem
and rulesgoverning
the
of
all
production
sociological
propositions
grounded,
scientifically
and of themalone, is the generating
of
all
principle
partial
theoriesof the social and, therefore,
the unifying
principleof
a properly
discourse
whichmustnotbe confused
with
sociological
a unitary
of thesocial. In otherwords,a sociologicaldistheory
* Editor's Note - Translated
by Angela Zanotti-Karp.

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682

SOCIAL RESEARCH

course,for example a theoryof marriagetransactionsor of cultural diffusion,is scientificonly to the extentthat it makes use
of the epistemologicaland logical principlesof the theoryof social knowledge,that is, of sociologicalmeta-science,
in arranging
a systemof relationsand of theirexplicatoryprinciples. It follows,on the one hand, thatthe pluralityof theoriesof the social
systemmustnot conceal the unityof the meta-science
upon which
all thatin the formerstandsout as scientificis founded: scholars
suchas Marx,Durkheimand Weber,totallydifferent
in theirviews
of social philosophyand ultimatevalues, were able to agree on
the main points of the fundamentalprinciplesof the theoryof
knowledgeof the social world. It follows,on the otherhand, that
what is usually called the "unityof science" is nothingbut the
unityof meta-science,the identityof principlesupon which all
science,includingthe scienceof man, is founded.
The originalityof anthropologicalstructuralism
lies essentially
in thefactthatit attacksfromfirstto last thesubstantialist
way of
thinkingwhichmodernmathematicsand physicshave constantly
strivento refute. Only in relativelyrecent times has it been
possibleto breakwiththe substantialist
way of thinkingthatconceives of geometricalfiguresin theirfactualexistenceinsteadof
consideringthem in theirreciprocalrelations;it has finallybecome possible to perceive that single elementsonly hold their
propertiesby virtue of the relationslinking one with another
withina system,
thatis to say,by virtueof the functiontheyfulfill
within the systemof relations. Finally, it has been possible to
discoverthatany geometryis nothingbut a pure systemof relationsdeterminedby the principlesgoverningthemand not by the
intrinsicnatureof the figuresenteringthoserelations. Thus, for
example,points,lines and planes of Euclidean geometrycan be
replaced by an infinityof entirelydifferentobjects without
thevalidityof thecorresponding
theorems,in such a way
affecting
that,as Bachelardwrites,"the realityof a line is strengthened
by
its belongingto multiple varied surfaces;even better,. . . the
essence of a mathematicalnotion is definedby the possibilities

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CURRENT TRENDS

683

ofdeformation
theapplicationofsucha
thatallowforextending
obnotion."1 One can immediately
see all the epistemological
mustovercomein orderto deal with its
staclesanthropology
- as
cultural
subject
systemsand systemsof social relations
defined
moderngeometry
dealswithitssubject,thatis,as systems
notbysomesubstantial
"content"but onlyby thelawsof combinationof theirconstitutive
elements.In the firstplace,such
as language,
cannot
ora complexofsocialrelations
culture,
things
and
be dealtwithas systems
internal
coherence
necessity,
having
Ernst
the
clear-cut
Cassirer
as
remarks,
exceptby overruling,
oppositionestablishedby Leibniz and all classicalrationalism
eternal
between
truths
ofreasonandtruths
offact,betweenformal
and contingent
truthsof logicand mathematics
empiricaltruths
of history.In ceasingto place in oppositionto each otherthat
whichis formal
and thatwhichis real,reasonand experience
conceivedas mere"Rhapsodievon Warnehmungen,"
structuralism
its
is a system.2
foundation
the
that
on
places
postulate experience
characterof empiricalfacts,
The postulateof the systematic
ofa further
the
however,
epistemological
presupposes overcoming
obstaclewhichis typicalofthesciencesofmanbecauseit is linked
and his
betweenthesocialscientist
to theparticular
relationship
in thespontaneous
inherent
philosophy
object. The artificialism
of the social worldleads to the "atheismof the moralworld"
tohisPhilosophy
criticized
ofRight:
byHegelin theintroduction
socialsubjectsareinclinedtodenythesocialworldtheimmanent
in thenaturalone,eitherbecausetheyare
necessity
theyrecognize
deludedbytheexperience
ofeveryday
life,wherethemeaningof
others'conductand activities
is immediately
seizable,or because
are
anxious
to
retain
the
they
rightsof man,inimprescriptible
cludingtherightto be awareof the meaningof an actionand
i G. Bachelard,Le Nouvel EspritScientifique,
Paris,P.U.F., 1934; 5th ed., 1949,
p. 24. Bachelardalso writes:"The roleof entitiestakesprecedenceovertheirnature
withtherelation"(p. 22). It is in relationsthat
. . . and theessenceis concomitant
are equivalent. As relationstheyhave a realityand not by
different
geometries
or an imageof intuition"(p. 28).
to an object,an experience,
reference
in ModernLinguistics,"Word,I, 1945,pp. 99-120.
2E. Cassirer,"Structuralism

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684

SOCIAL RESEARCH

freelyand rationallyto determineit and its consequences. By


recognizingin thesocial worlda vicariousnecessityonly,of which
man ever remainsmasterand owner,one may avoid such artificialism;social realitymaybe dealt withas a systemthathas immanentnecessity,independentof individuals' consciousnessand
mustbe exploredin the same way as are
will,and that,therefore,
the relationshipsamong factsof the physicalworld. The debate
as
recentlydeveloped, especiallyin France, about structuralism
a "philosophywithoutsubject" misseswhat is trulyoriginal in
this trend of researchby attributingto structuralismwhat the
foundersofsocial science,Marx as well as Durkheim,alwaysstated
both in their theoreticalwritingsand scientificpractice: structhe postulateof the systematic
turalismsimplyreaffirms
character,
of the social world,thusdivesting
or the immanentintelligibility
individual consciousnessof the gnoseologicalprivilege granted
to it bythespontaneoustheoryofthesocial.
hinderthe methodologicaldecision to
Considerabledifficulties
regard a cultural formation,such as language, mythor ritual,
or a social formationas a systemcontainingthe key to its own
and to draw fromthe factsthemselvesthe code for
interpretation,
their
meaning: the symbolsof culture formations
unraveling
mythsor ritualseven more than language do not have the conclusiveclarityof the symbolsof formallogic,whichare arbitrary
and are perceivedto be so. Even more than geometricalfigures,
theyappear as concreteindividualitiesthatmustbe dealt within
ratherthan in theirrelationswith
themselvesand forthemselves,
all phenomenain thesame class.Myths,ritualsor even literaryor
traditionsare shielded
philosophicalworksbelongingto different
not so much because minds which are
against interpretation,
and in addition of the
of
of
the
interpretation,
key
deprived
consciousnessof such a deprivation,experiencein them an apparentabsurdityand incoherence;but rather,because theygive
an appearanceof senseto partialand selectivereadings,wherethe
meaningof each symbolicelementis expected to derive froma
special revelationratherthan fromits methodicallyestablished

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CURRENT

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685

relationwithall the otherelementsof the same class.8 The true


meaningof a given ritual act, of a symbol,may remain hidden
from the observer because, paradoxically,this act or symbol
assumestoo easily the appearance of truth(as for example, the
sexual significance
ofwork). By allowingone to assignone meaning to each symbolseparatelytaken,the books on dreamsdiscoureach symbolicelementto the
age even the intentionof referring
totalsystemof manifestations
fromwhichit derivesits truesense.
In thesame waythe earliermythologists,
payinggreaterattention
to the subjectmatterof the myththan to the way it was told, to
itsvocabularyratherthanto itssyntax,werecontentedwithwordwhichwere made possibleby dictionariesof
by-wordtranslations
universalsymbolismwhich included mythicalor ritual elements
borrowedfromdifferent
traditionsand consideredin theircontentonly. By takingsuchshort-cuts,
whichdirectlyled fromeach
to
its
signifiant
correspondent
signifi,scholarsweredivertedfrom
the long detourby the totalsystemof the constitutivesignificants
of a ritual or mythicalcorpus. Yet thatdetouralone could have
led themto thecompletesystemof significants
and, consequently,
to the particular significantcorrespondingto each particular
correspondent.
to findequivalentpracticesat once lazy
It would not be difficult
and over-hasty,
among sociologists. The verylogic of investigation,a seriesof operationsproducinga collectionof facts,leads
atomismthose who, yieldingto an easy task,
into hair-splitting
take the statisticaltable as the unit of interpretationand who
avoid exposing an entire coherentbody of propositionsto the
confutationthatmightcome fromeverytable, because theyskip
over the question of articulatingthe propositionsderived from
3 Several of the interpretationsof Greek philosophers' works,
especially those of
the pre-Socratics,reveal more about the interpreters'way of thinking than about
the structureof the discourse interpreted. Among other reasons, the ease of wordtranslation has shielded these works from a
by-word, at times letter-by-letter,
systematicinterpretationat least as effectivelyas has the apparent absurdity of
translatingcultural works belonging to the most removed and least acknowledged
tradition.

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686

SOCIAL RESEARCH

each table or fromseriesof tables,each entailingits own analysis.


a system
As againsta discontinuousseries of ad hoc hypotheses,
of hypothesesowes its epistemologicalvalue to coherence,and to
itsvulnerabilityto attack:one factalone can bringinto question
thewholesystem. Being built at the priceof breakingawayfrom
phenomenalappearances,thesystemcannotreceivetheimmediate
and easycorroborationthatfactsat theirfacevalue or documents
is onlymade possible
literallytakenwould provide:itsverification
of
of
the
the
total
whole
coherence
by
system factscreated byand not for the theoreticalhypotheses. Such a method of
proof,wherethe coherenceof the systemof intelligiblefactsis in
itselfits own proof,while,at thesame time,the powerof proofis
conferred
on thepartialtestspositivismmanipulatesin a scattered
decisionto question the
way,evidentlypresupposesthe systematic
factsabout the relationswhich bind theminto a system. When
Erwin Panofskyoffersas an "elementof proof" the interse disputando of Villard de Honnecourt'sAlbum, he does not ignore
that thatphrasedoes not settlea question of fact,the directinforexample: such a
fluenceof the scholasticsupon the architects,
smallfactderivesitsproofvalue fromitsrelationswithotherfacts
as long as theyare consideredindepenwhich are insignificant
dentlyof the relationsthat a systematichypothesisallows us to
discover,but which take hold of their real "value" only as
organizedlinksof one series.4 The sociologistsetsin motionthe
same circularprocessin his analysisof the factsyielded by an
startingfromthecomplexofresponsesto a questioninvestigation:
naire, he interpretsthe meaning of each question by means of
reformuwhichhe has elicitedand built the responses,constantly
lating the meaningof the whole in the light of what he learns
fromeach oftheresponses.
The structuralapproachcan be establishedin researchprovided
only thatall automaticroutinesin scientificpracticeare broken.
* Cf. P. Bourdieu,"Post-face,"
Architecture
in E. Panofsky,
gothiqueet pense
scholastique,prcdde L'Abb Sugerde Saint-Denis,Paris: Editionsde Minuit,
1966,pp. 135-167.

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687

In addition,however,thegreaterdisciplineimpliedbysystematization alwaysruns the risk of appearingas a cleverlydisguisedrenunciationof scientificexactitudeto thoseforwhom just taking
the "given" as such representsthe ideal of precision. Actually,
the proofobtainedthroughthe coherenceof the systemof proofs
condemnsany systematicprocedure to a methodiccycle which
inevitablyappearsas a viciouscircle,inspiredby the spiritof the
this logic of
system,to a positivistepistemologythatreinterprets
proofwith referenceto an analyticaldefinitionof verification.
The same blindnessleads some to perceivein the structuralanalysis of a myth the projection of the researcher'scategoriesof
thought,or even the protocolof a projectivetestor a bias in the
chosenmethodof interpreting
each statisticalrelationestablished
by a multivariateanalysison the basis of the total systemof the
relationsbetweenthe relationsfromwhicheach derivesits meaning.5 The strengthof proofof a relationempiricallydiscovered
is not exclusivelydeterminedby a strongstatisticalcorrelation.
The validityof the hypothesistestedis a functionof the complete
systemofrelationsalreadyestablished,whetherstatisticalrelations
or regularitiesof a different
type. In Reichenbach'swords,it is
a functionof those"chainsof proofs"that"may be strongerthan
theirweakestlink,evenstrongerthantheirstrongest
link,"6 since
theirvalidityis measurednot onlyby thesimplicityand coherence
of the principlesemployed,but by the range and
diversityof the
s Thus, in the same
way that mathematics can consider the absence of property
as itself a property,the sociologist can view the absence of a statistical relation
between two variables as highly significantwhen he places it within the
complete
systemof relations of which it is a part. For example, no significantrelation (in a
statisticalsense) is found among studentsof differentsocial origin in theirknowledge
of classical theater, while they systematicallydifferentiatethemselves in all other
cultural practices. In this case, an interpretationof the meaning of the attitude
toward academic culture, which reveals a non-significantrelation, should contain
the meaning of the socially conditioned and diversifiedrelation of the studentswith
the free culture (avant-garde theater or modern music) and vice versa, etc. (P.
Bourdieu and J. C. Passeron, Les Etudiants et leur tudes, Cahiers du Centre de
Sociologie Europenne, n.l, Paris-La Haye, Mouton, 1964).
A. Kaplan, The Conduct of Enquiry, Methodology of Behavioral Science, San
Francisco,Chandler, 1964,p. 215.

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SOCIAL RESEARCH

facts considered and by the multiplicityof unforeseenconsequences. The wordsthatDuhem used to describethe progressof
physicscan thusdescribethe progressof any structuralresearch:
"A symbolicpaintingto which incessantretouchinggivesgreater
extentand unity. . . , while each detail, cut offfromthe whole,
losesany meaningand no longerrepresentsanything."7 It is not
thata physicisthas expounded the theoryof
by chance,therefore,
scientifictheorywhich is the most appropriateforremovingthe
in the application of the structuralmethod
apparentdifficulties
to the social sciences. In the introductionto his book, The
Principlesof Mechanics,Herz showsthat the theoreticalprocess
whose structureis
consistsin building symbolicrepresentations
such that theirnecessaryconsequencesin the sphereof thought
are symbolsof the consequencesin the realm of thingsof the
objectsrepresented. Here Herz is veryclose to a positivistphilosophyofsciencesuchas thatof Mach, forwhoman adequate theory
to the sense data which it expresses
is definedby its conformity
in their here and now. Herz, however,radicallydifferentiates
himselffrompositivismin thathe stressesthat,in order thatthe
theorybe verified,it is not necessaryto verifyeach singlepropositionbut onlythecompletesystemof propositions. That is to say
thatno elementin a theoryof nature,such as the notionof force
or mass,can be isolatedin orderto be verifiedby an objectivecorcan no
constructed,
relate,and thatsingleconcepts,hypothetically
longerbe expectedto reproduceconcretelyand empiricallyfacts
thatcan be demonstrated.It is in theirtotality,or, more exactly,
in their mutual relations that such concepts represent their
objects, so that their "necessaryconsequences in the sphere of
thought"are always "symbolsof the necessaryconsequences in
the realm of thingsof the objects represented." The theoryis
nota literaltranslationbased upon a term-by-term
correspondence
with the "real," merelyreproducingthe apparent elementsand
propertiesof theobject afterthefashionof the mechanicalmodels
Paris: M. Rivire,1914,
TP. Duhem,La thoriephysique,son objet,sa structure,
2nd ed. reviewedand enlarged,p. 311.

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689

of ancient physics. The structureof symbolssymbolizes8the


structureof relationsestablishedby experiencein such a way that
therelationbetweentheoryand facts,betweenreasonand experience, is still a structuralhomology. This is well expressedby
Juvet:"In therushingfluxof phenomena,in the everchangeable
reality,the physicistobservessomethingpermanent. In order to
describe it his mind builds geometry,kinematics,mechanical
thatwhich,
modelswhoseaxiomsfulfillthe purposeof specifying
forwantofa betterterm,we shall call usefulunderstanding
of the
different
conceptsformedafterexperienceand observation. If
of a groupwhoseinvaritheaxiomsthusbuilt are representations
ants allow for the translationinto realityof all permanentelementsdiscoveredempirically,physicaltheoryis freefromcontraof reality."9 In otherwords,theoryas
dictionsand is a reflection
a systemof signsorganizedto represent,throughtheirown relations,the relationsamong the objects is a translationor, better,
a symbollinked to what it symbolizesby a law of analogy.
More than culturalformations,
social formationsresistthe apof
a
such
In
meta-theory. the firstplace, like cultural
plication
because of theirbelonging
facts,social relationsand institutions,
to a systemof relations among relations,are endowed with a
necessarycharacterwhich makes them appear to individuals as
natural,at once as matterof courseand as partakingof a human
nature. Paradoxically,social relations or institutions,which
otherwisewould be perceived for what they objectivelyare- standunquestionedconcerningtheirbelongconstructs
arbitrary
ing to the systemand are ratherapprehendedin themselves,in
absoluteterms,preciselybecause of what theyowe directlyto the
systemof relationsof which theyare part: thatis, theirapparent
necessity. In the second place, the logical expurgationpresupposed by the constitutionof factsas elementsof a systemof relations clashes here with particulardifficulties:
the "elements"in
Moreaccurately,
one shouldsaysymbolizes
with,as theydid in the seventeenth
to indicatea relationof analogybetweentwo things.
century
9 P. Juvet,La structure
des nouvellesthoriesphysiques,1933,p. 170,quoted by
G. Bachelard,op. cit.,p. 35 (myitalics).

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SOCIAL RESEARCH

mutualrelationshipare individualagentsdirectlyperceptibleand
demand
immediatelylocated in a here and now; theyinsistently
to be conceivedof in theirseparateexistence,as if theyhad a real
autonomyas againstthe systemof relationsof whichtheyare part
and by which theyare produced,in the sense that the electron,
accordingto Herman Weyl, is not an element of the field but
"a productof thefield"(eine Ausgeburtdes Felds). The methodological decision to focus upon the relationshipsratherthan the
elementscomposingthem must thereforereckon with this ens
realissimumofthespontaneoustheoryofthesocial: theindividual,
the "subject." One maybelieve,forexample,thathe has broken
with all substantialismwhen he takes as his object the relation
between two "substances"that,as oftenas not, indicate "interof Christian
subjectiverelations." The subject,hybridoffspring
spiritualismand of the Cartesian dogma of the "spirit in the
machine," in Ryle's words, is more resistantthan geometrical
of graspingthe systemof relationsfromwhich
figuresto the effort
it derivesits raison d'treand even the appearance of an autonomousexistence. Thus, forexample,theobjectiverelationsamong
the subjects' social positionsare usually reduced to the "intersubjectiverelations"whichactuallyinvolvethe individualsoccupyingthosepositions:such a procedure,however,ignoresthe fact
that the propertyof social relationsis preciselythat of existing
even ifthesubjectstheyinvolve(employersand workers,educated
and uneducatedpeople, etc.) do not have any directrelationship,
even if theyhave nevermet and will nevermeetwithinthe same
here and now. It also ignoresthe factthat the actual relations
amongsubjects(and a numberofkindsofconductas well,cultural
practicesforexample,which are apparentlyfreefromany reference to such relations)alwaysimplyan objectivereferenceto the
objective relationsof positionwhich definetheirformand content. Only a radical break with the spontaneousway of thought
allows us to perceivethat,forinstance,
and perception,therefore,
the actual relations among agents constitutingthe intellectual
fieldowe theirspecificformto the positioneach agent occupies

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691

withinsuch a field,to the extentthat each of these relationsis


dominatedand definedby the objective relation between the
positionsof the agentsthat enter it- such an objective relation
being itselfdefinedby its belongingto the intellectualfieldconceived as a systemof relations.10In the same way, the relation
betweenindividualsfromdifferent
social classes and one or anotherculturalgood, the meaningtheygive to different
practices
perceivedas "vulgar" or "distinguished,""noble" or "common,"
and theactual relationstheymayhold amongthemselveson such
an occasion,are alwaysmediated: their relational meaning and
function,therefore,are determinedby the objective relations
betweenclass conditionsand class positionswhich in thesekinds
of conduct,attitudesor opinions finda possibilityof being actualized.11 For example,one could not understandthe passionate
and naive interestof sociologistsand intellectualsin the problems
ofmodernmassmedia,leisureor "popular culture,"if it werenot
that the relationshipbetween the intellectualand his culture
enclosesthe whole question of how the intellectualis related to
the intellectualcondition,a questionthatis neverso dramatically
posed as in the issue of the relationbetweenthe intellectualand
the lowerclassesas classesdeprivedof culture.
Being establishedamong social conditionsand positions(e.g.,
those defininga class situation),objective relations have more
realitythan the subjects involved,than the direct or mediated
relationsactuallytakingplace among the agents,than the representationsthe agents form of these relations. To ignore the
objective relationsleads to apprehendingall the characteristics
observableor even disclosedby experimentation
as if theywere
substantialproperties,attachedby natureto individualsor classes
of individuals. The mostelaboratenotionsin sociologicaltheory
which,like that of attitude,are but the abridged formulaof a
relationbetweentwo systemsof relations,may be used in a real-

10Cf. "Projetcrateuret champintellectuel,"


Les Temps Modernes,n.246,November1966.
n Cf."Conditionde classeet positionde classe,"ArchivesEuropennesde Sociologie,VII, 1966,pp. 201-223.

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SOCIAL RESEARCH

istic framewhen theydefineabsolute properties,susceptibleof


being thoughtof independentlyof the systemof objectiveconditionsof which theyare the productand of the systemof acts or
conductwithinwhichtheybecome manifest(like,e.g., the notion
offorcein earlyphysics). Most usagesof conceptsat once descriptiveand explicatorysuch as "motivations,""tendencies,""needs,"
"inclinations"or "aspirations,"restupon a bracketingof the system of objective relations. An entirelysimilar procedure is
operated by spontaneoussociologywhen it separates acts and
expressionscalled "vulgar,""distinguished"or "pretentious"from
the systemof regularitiesand probabilitiesthatobjectivelydefine
the social conditions,hence the "motivations"of individualsin
theirbehavior. Thus, one refrainsfromseeing,forexample,that
upper class mobile pettybourgeoistend to adopt, throughanticipation,and as muchas theirmeansallow (thatis to say,moreoften
in wishfulthinkingthan in actuality),attributeswhich,at least
in theireyes,belong to the objective positiontheywill reach in
thefutureaccordingto statistics;to the extentthatit favorsanticia favorabledispositionto acquire
patorysocializationby fostering
for
social mobility,such a "pre-tenattitudes
the indispensable
sion" contributesto therealizationof subjectivehopes,themselves
the productof a givensystemof objectiveopportunities.
it has
To removefromphysicsany remnantof substantialism,
been necessaryto replace the notion of forcewith that of form.
In the same way social sciencescould not do away with the idea
of human nature except by substitutingfor it the structureit
conceals,thatis by consideringas productsof a systemof relations
the propertiesthat the spontaneoustheoryof the social ascribes
to a substance. Marx's criticismof Stirneris valid in regardto
and sociologistswho reducesocial relationsto reall psychologists
"
lationsamong"subjects,"or, even worse,to the "subjects' representationsof such relations,and who, in the name of some kind
the objecbelieve it possibleto transform
of practicalartificialism,
the
the
tive relationsamong
subjects by transforming subjects'
does not want two individuals
"Sancho
them:
of
representations

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693

to be 'in contradiction'witheach other,like bourgeoisand proletarian. . . , he would like to see themin a personalrelationship
of an individual to anotherone. He does not considerthat,in
of the divisionof labor, personalrelationsnecesthe framework
sarily,inevitablybecome class relationsand crystallizeas such;
thus,all his verbiagereducesitselfto a pious wish thathe thinks
to realizeby exhortingthe individualsin theseclassesto bar from
theirmind the idea of their'contradictions'
and particular'priviIt
to
the
would
suffice
lege/
change
'opinion' and the 'will' to
and the 'particular.'" 12 The systemof
destroythe 'contradiction'
objectiverelationsin which the individualsfindthemselvesand
whichare moreadequatelyexpressedin theeconomyand morphologyof groupsratherthan in the individuals'declared opinions,
'
contains the principle of the "satisfaction"or ' 'dissatisfaction'
theyfeel,of the conflictstheyexperienceor of the expectations
and ambitionstheyexpress. It constitutes,therefore,
the condition fora completeunderstandingof the lived-through
relationtheir
hold
with
a system
truth
within
individuals
objectivated
ship
of objectiverelations.
The apparentrelationsscience must shatterin order to build
up the systemof objectiverelationstheyconceal, are not always
mere fictionsliable to be annihilatedby exposingtruth,as light
are, as it were,well
dispelsdarkness. Ideological representations
foundederrorsof whichthe scienceof objectiverelationsreveals
at once theoreticalfallacyand social function. It is useless to
hope, for example, that the revelationof the objective truthof
socialrelations,byforceof itsown evidencealone,can breakdown
the ideologiesof ''participation'*
and "communication"conveyed
and guaranteedby certain kinds of social psychology,and predisposedto become the justificationof the enterprisesor institutions which this science analyzesand to whose end it becomes
accessory. This is the errorof those who believe in the virtues
of the dialogue and of the face-to-face
situation,or who organize
12K. Marx, Ideologie allemande, J. Molitor, trans.,in Oeuvres Philosophiques, vol.
IX, Paris, A. Costes, 1947, p. 94.

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SOCIAL

RESEARCH

magiccultsof thenew industrialage, socio-dramaor non-directed


interviews.The social sciencewhichfindsin theadequate knowlthe repreedge of objectiverelationsthe proofthattransforming
to transform
sentationsof the objectiverelationsis not sufficient
the latter,could not attributeto such a knowledgethe power to
transform
theobjectiverelationsor even theirrepresentations.
Well founded errors,ideological representations,oppose to
science an organizedand systematicresistancebecause they are
supportedby thewhole social ordertheyin turnhelp to support:
the extremedifficulty
encounteredby the smallestconquests of
science could not otherwisebe understood,so evident are the
truthsonce theyare reachedagainstall evidence. All "techniques'*
by whichthe social systemtendsto conceal its own truthamount
ultimatelyto the logic of camouflage:relationsand their real
are in some way lost,confused,blurred,nullified,
configurations
in
the
intertwiningof their appearances. Whoever
disfigured
has done researchworkin thesocial sciencesknowshow cautiously
it is necessaryto proceedin orderto avoid thefalsetrailscontained
in theobject itself,to resistthe "plentifulabundanceof epistemo'
logical obstacles' as Georges Canguilhem says,13and the ever
thatreality
presentallurementof the ready-madeinterpretations
and
insistently
proposesto the interpreter, not only throughthe
informants'
responses,oftendeceivingeven withoutany intention
of doing so. Thus, for example, a charismaticideology,from
of culture,
which most of the privilegedclasses' representations
of the relationswith culture and of the modes of acquiring it
originate,can be producedby simplybracketingthe evidentrelation betweeneducationand culture. Such a bracketingis objectivelyauthorizedand sustainedby a social systemwhich insures
to the privilegedclasses,among other things,that mode of acquiringculturethroughwhichthisbracketingcan be more easily
in a moreunconsciousthanconsciousway.14
effected,
is G. Canguilhem,"Sur une epistemologieconcordataire,"in Hommage
Bachelard,Etudes de philosophieet d'histoiredes sciences,Paris, P.U.F., 1957,
pp. 3-12.
14For a moresystematic
analysisor tnerelationDeiweenme sysiemor aeoiogicai

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695

The adequate theoryof the object implies the theoryof the


obsocial conditionsin which are produced the pre-constructed
jects thatare proposedby ideologyand thatconstitutethe major
obstacleto the formulationof an adequate theoryof the object.
Consequently,because of a blind acceptance of what Nietzsche
calls "the dogma of the immaculateperception/'positivistsociology- viewingitselfas freefrompreventionsand presuppositions
- is likelyto fall into all the trapsset by pre-constructed
objects,
social factsperceivedand named by spontaneoussociologyand
"social problems"whose claim to exist as sociologicalproblems
is strongerthe higherthe degreeof social realitytheydisplayfor
the global societyand especiallyfor the communityof scholars.
When, misled by a false philosophyof objectivityconceived as
meresubmissionto the givenas such,the sociologistnegateshimselfas a sociologistby refusingconsciouslyto build his own distancefromrealityand the conditionsforan adequate knowledge
of it,he condemnshimselfto ascertainpre-constructed
factswhich
are imposedon him despite himselfbecause he is not provided
withthemeansof knowingtherulesof theirconstruction.Thus,
forexample,a sociologistmaystudyjuvenile delinquency,a social
problempar excellence,sanctionedby a long traditionas a sociological problem: by means of the most rigorousstatisticaltechniques he establishesrelationsbetweentypesof delinquencyand
the differentcharacteristicsof delinquents such as sex, social
memorigin,level of education,employmentor unemployment,
in
or
more
less
in
so
etc.;
milieu,
bership
integratedfamily
doing
he is bound to adopt as his own productionan explicatorysystem
whichhas been objectivelyimposedon him by the pre-constructed
object which he has allowed to be imposed upon himself,if he
failsto investigatethe institutionalconditionsthatproducedelinin the sphereof cultureand the systemof mechanisms
whichsuch
representations
concealand fromwhichtheyderivetheirexistenceand logic,see
representations
P. Bourdieuand J. C. Passeron,Les Hritiers,Paris,Ed. de Minuit,1964;P. Bourdieu et al., Un artmoyen,Paris,Ed. de Minuit,1965;P. Bourdieuand AlainDarbel,
L'amour de l'art,Paris,Ed. de Minuit,1966; P. Bourdieu,"Elmentspour une
Revue internationale
thoriesociologiquede la perceptionartistique,"
des sciences
sociales,forthcoming.

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SOCIAL RESEARCH

quents. Such conditionsinclude institutionsand agentsthatare


delinquents,
responsibleforcurbingdelinquencyand identifying
fromthe people in the neighborhoodwhere the firstcomplaints
are made,up to thejudgesin thechildren'scourts,passingthrough
and social workers;theyinclude also the values and
police officers
of the "social order"
theconsciousor unconsciousrepresentations
of order" derive fromtheirbelonging
thatthese"representatives
to given social classes (pettybourgeoisieand bourgeoisiein this
particularcase), and that direct theirperceptionand evaluation
of the differentforms,socially identified,of violation of social
norms.
It is againstsuch a substitutionof object thatErvingGoffman
defendshimselfin his studyof what he calls totalinstitutions:he
refusesto accept the social definitionof insanityaccording to
which the "given" is constructedand describesinstead the logic
of the processof "alienation" by whicha societychoosesand produces its "insane" population.15In orderto understandthesocial
conditionsthat produce the pre-constructed
object (psychiatric
a
which
and
mental
"sociologyof mentalillness"
patient),
hospital
it
could onlyassumeas such, was necessaryto tear apart the web
of apparentrelationsthat,in the commonconsciousness,contain
madmen and insanity. The series madman, insanity,neurosis,
mentalhospital,cure,had to be replaced by the one
psychiatrist,
that it disguises: committed,commitment,forced residence,
prison, barracks,concentrationcamp, institutionalalienation.
of insanity,
Briefly,breakingwith the ideologicalrepresentations
makes
that
doctrine
humanitarian
the
with
up the
particularly
in chargeof curing it, is one
faade of the institutionsofficially
total
a
of
with building up
institutions,a paradoxical
system
groupingof organizationsseparatedfor so long that only their
then,
declared functionsare taken into account. It is sufficient,
to conceiveof each institution(or class of institutions)constitutingthe systemas so manyisomorphiccases of a single group of
in order to be able to grasp the invariantchartransformations
15E. Goffman,Asylums,New York: Doubleday & Co., Anchor Books, 1961.

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TRENDS

697

acteristicswhich each of them is given by the logic of the total


institution. Taken in itself,the mental hospital doubtless disguisesbetterthan any otherinstitutionits relationto the system
and thecharacteristics
thatderivefromthisfact,
of itsfunctioning
disthanksespeciallyto the scientificauthorityof the psychiatric
course which expressesits declared functions. Once, however,
the seriesof total institutionshas been constructed,the mental
hospitaldisplaysmuch more completelythan other institutions
the logic of ideologicalcamouflage.
In order to escape an idiographic,and thereforeideological,
considerationof thosecases thathave been able to resistany interpretationforso long thattheyare perceivedas they"demand" to
science must constructa system
be, that is in their specificity,
which alone can reveal the hidden truthof the case considered
because it containsthe principleof its own interpretation.For
thispurposeit mustuse the hypothesisof analogies among facts
claiming to be consideredin themselvesand for themselves,or
between the fact directlystudied and the complex of logically
possible factsconstitutingthe class of which the particularfact
is a partfroma sociologicalviewpoint.16Max Weber's methodo16Such a probingof the possibleside cases,of the "compossibles,"
imaginaryor
one wholestructured
can legitimately
seek the aid
realized,thatconstitute
system,
of the hypothesis
of structural
analogiesbetweenthe phenomenaunderstudyand
somephenomenathathave alreadytakenshapein different
spheresof socialscience
or of othersciences,startingfromthe closestones,linguistics,
ethnologyor even
biology(it is such a procedurethat has led to conceivingof the structureof
intellectual
fieldby analogywiththe structure
of the religiousfieldsuch as can be
derivedfromMax Weber'sanalysis;cf. "Projet crateuret champ intellectuel").
Such transpositions
of conceptsand schemesof thoughtmust alwaysbe strictly
controlled:analogieswiththe closestspheresare not necessarily
the leastdangerous
(witnessthe errorsproducedby conceptslooselyintroducedfromlinguisticsinto
and sociology),
and analogieswith the farthest
ones may prove to have
ethnology
controlled. Durkheimobservedthat
greatheuristicvalue if theyare rigorously
"analogyis a legitimateformof comparisonand (that) comparisonis the only
practicalmeansat our disposalto make thingsintelligible."This alreadysuggests
the principlesof a reflection
about the conditionsof a regulatedusage of analogy.
He condemnedthe attemptssimplyto infersociologicallaws fromthe laws of
biologybecausetheyignorethe factthat"if the laws of life are foundin society,
theyhave new formsand specificcharacters."He suggestedthat the searchfor
establishedthrough
partialanalogiesbetweenthe conditionsof social organization,

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698

SOCIAL RESEARCH

logical analysisabout the conditionsof the validityof the 'Ideal


type,"a coherentfictionto be measuredagainstthe real and to be
definedby definingits own deviationfromthe real, may help to
specifythe principlesand rules under which such a methodical
investigationof possible "side-cases" (compossibles)should be
operated,providedhoweverthatsome ambiguitiesbe removed.17
the ideal typewith the model, the extremecase,
By identifying
without differentiating
clearly the case actually observed from
the one obtained throughan imaginaryextreme,Max Weber
tends to use it to indicate both a theoreticallyprivilegedcase
and the paradigwithina constructedgroup of transformations
maticalcase whichmaybe eithera pure fictionobtained through
a "unilateral accentuation" (Steigerung)of relevant properties,
or an actuallyobservableobject (such as a piece of writingby
Benjamin Franklin)displayingin the highestdegree the largest
numberof propertiesof the constructedobject. To avoid these
ambiguities,especiallywhendealing witha reallyobservablefact,
the ideal typemustbe considerednot in itselfand foritself,like
a revealingsample which disclosesthe truthof the whole collection,but ratheras a particularcase of the possible,as an element
of a group of transformations,
by referringit to all possible or
real casesof thefamilyof whichthe ideal typeis a privilegedcase,
could
a properlysociologicalanalysis,and the conditionsof animal organization,
lead to developingthe commonfeaturesof any organization(E.
legitimately
Revue de
individuelleset reprsentations
collectives,"
Durkheim,"Reprsentations
in Sociologieet Philosophie,
et de morale,T. VI, May 1898,reprinted
Mtaphysique
Paris,F. Alean,1924,3rded.,P.U.F.,1963).
17Doubtless,theseambiguitiesessentiallyderivefromthe tact that Max Weber
viewsthe ideal type as "a guide for constructing
hypotheses"and that,placing
himselfwithin the logic of invention,he is inclined to recognizeparticular
heuristic
virtuesin givenobservablecases,hencegivingwayto a realisticinterpretation of the notionof ideal type,in completeoppositionto his own theoretical
are foundagain in his appliedwork. Thus, for
intentions.The same ambiguities
example,his analysisof religiousagents,priest,prophet,sorcerer,can be easily
withina structural
logic and he himselfpointsout the propertythat
reinterpreted
each religiousagentowesto the relationsbindinghim to the othersand to laymen.
The factremains,however,thatlackinga conceptionof the "religiousfield"as a
even less) typologicalthought
system,he does not escape (and his commentators
and Aristotelian
definition.

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699

of isomorphic
and therefore
takingit as revealingthe structure
cases. On thiscondition,
theideal typein thesenseofa directly
as the fictitious
observablecase can be employedas rigorously
rational
of
the
construction
conduct,usingthe
(e.g.,
pure type
calculatedends),which
mosteffective
meansto achieverationally
therangeof real conductsthe
meansforgrasping
is a privileged
theirdifferential
idealtypeallowsto objectivate
byobjectivating
distancefromthe pure type. Followingsuch a logic, Mauss
ofthe
form"in thefamily
selected
thepotlatch
as the''paroxysmal
of totaland agonistic
nature;or one can viewthestuexchanges
dentof letters,
of bourgeoisParisianorigin,and his inclination
towarddilettantism
as a firmgroundupon whichto build the
truthconcerning
modelofpossiblerelations
betweensociological
One
thestudent's
conditionand itsideologicaltransfiguration.18
can well understand
how the structural
approachcan findin
means
formalization
the
logical
fullyto realizeitpredestinate
self:symbols
allowthought,
oflogicand mathematics
and systems
freedfromreference
to pushto itsveryend
to implicitexamples,
theinvestigation,
at once mechanicaland methodic,
of the posof a systematic
sible,and to realizethe controlledconstruction
all
of
body hypotheses
encompassing possibleexperiences.
forexperimentaThe model,formalized
or not,is thesubstitute
and
which
is
almost
tion,
alwaysimpossible, providesthemeans
to comparewithrealitytheconsequences
drawnthrough
sucha
in
a
that
it
is
fictitious.
is
because
construction, way
just
complete
As againstthemimeticmodelsthatreproduceonlythephenomenalproperties
oftheobject,insteadofrestoring
itsprinciples
of
structural
the
or
models,disregarding
functioning, analogical
apand methodic
abstraction
establish
pearances
through
comparison,
an intelligible
relationamongconstructed
relationsand can be
to ordersof realityphenomenally
transposed
verydifferent,
sugand
new
rise
to
new
construcgesting
byanalogy analogies giving
tions of objects. These partial theoriesthat formulatethe
andunifying
ofa system
ofstructural
homogenerating
principles
is Cf.P. Bourdieuand J. C. Passeron,Les Hritiers,op. cit.,pp. 69-79.

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700

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realizationof a systemof relationsto be


logies are the systematic
verifiedor alreadyverified,and demand a procedureof verification thatcannotbut be itselfsystematic.Consciouslyconstructed
against the immediate "given/1they allow the testingagainst
realityof thepropertiesthatcan be exposedcompletely,by deduction,thanksto the irrealityof such theories. In the same way as
the mathematicianmayfindin the definitionof a straightline as
curvewithoutany curvaturethe principleof a generaltheoryof
curves,so the constructionof a pure model allows consideration
realizationsof a single
of different
social formationsas different
hidden
and
to
transformations
of
brings light,consequently,
group
propertiesthat can be revealed only by relatingeach realization
to all theothers,thatis to saywithreferenceto a completesystem
of the relationsin which the principleof theirstructuralaffinity
is expressed.
societiesand social classes or to
Whetherapplied to different
of the same society,the comparativemethod
different
sub-systems
makesit possibleto explain the peculiarityof a phenomenalcom'
'
plex (of its 'structure'in the senseof a systemof relationsamong
elementsof a totality)by relatingit to othercomtheconstitutive
plexes (also definedas systemsof relations),by a procedureanalogous to thatwhichallows the mathematician"to expose relations
of formulas/'as Leibniz says.19
throughregulatedtransformations
The positingof the structureas a systemof covariationsthrough
whichone structure(in the originalsense)of a systemof relations
is changedinto another,makesit possible to attributeto the system under studyits own positionwithin the whole complex of
possiblecases. Thus, forexample,a statisticalanalysismayestablish the structureof the museum public of differentcountries
thatis, the systemof direct
differences),
(separatedby systematic
or indirectrelationsamongdependentand independentvariables
such as sex, age, level of education,profession,individual preferencesin art,expectationsabout the organizationof museumsand
ofworks,etc. At thispoint,however,on pain either
arrangement
is G. W. Leibniz,Philosophische
Vol. VII, p. 206.
Gerhardt,
Schriften,

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TRENDS

701

of comparingthe incomparableor of failingto comparethe comparable,the analysiscannotbe limitedto bringingtogethersingle


relations,ignoringthe positionalvalues whicheach of themowes
to its belongingto a particularsystemof relations. Further,if
one does not want to overlook the systematicaction exercised
of each country,fromthe
upon each relationby thecharacteristics
in
ofcultureor education,
matters
to
structure
population
policies
and if one does not want to be precluded fromsystematically
of such an action,it is necessaryto determine
the effects
verifying
thelaws of transformation
which,systematically
applied to one or
anotherof the systemsof statisticalrelationsor, more exactly,to
the principleof such systems(representedin the particularcase
by a mathematicalmodel), allows us to discoverthe structuresof
all othersystemsof relations,with the exceptionof some independentvariables,relativelyfewand secondary,whose variations
are independentof the variableswhich are linked together.20
The structuralapproach allows us to bypass the alternative
betweena way of comparisonthatbringstogethercultural traits
or statisticalindicatorsdetachedfromthe systemof relationsfrom
whence they derive their value, and an idiographythat complacentlystressesthe irreduciblecharacterof phenomenallydistinctcomplexes. It does so, moreover,withouthaving recourse
to artificialclassifications,
of the Aristotelianage in
characteristic
social science,or to more or less arbitrarytypologies,productsof
a realisticseparationinto "types"as compositecopies obtainedby
superimposingimages of the "real." A variant may appear as
"ideal-typical"in the logic of invention(or exposition)because it
leads more directlyto the systemof cases or to the law of their
relations:this remains,however,a necessarilyprovisionalprivilege. One would hope in vain to findthe invariantrealized in
20The model allowingus to explain the structure
of the relationsdefiningthe
of which the
museumpublic and, more exactly,the logic of culturaldiffusion,
P.
is
in
Bourdieu
of
art
is
a
and
work
the
of
case,
presented
particular
perception
A. Darbel,L'amour de Vari,op. cit. The comparative
studyof the characteristics
of publicsin different
Europeancountrieswill be added to the secondeditionof
thebook(to be published).

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702

SOCIAL

RESEARCH

withinone or other
one of the variants,or to graspimmediately,
the second order structure,the law of transof thesestructures,
formationas the principleof the systemof covariationsthatlead
fromone firstorderstructureto another.
Thus, the systematicapplication of the structuralapproach
bringsabout a double liberation. In the firstplace, a break is
made with the verbiageabout totalityinheritedfromthe philosophical traditionof the "objectivespirit,"and with the holistic
intuitionismwhich, in the belief that a
or "configurationistic"
socialsystemexpressesin each of itspartstheactionof one and the
same principle,deemsit possibleto recapturein a sortof "central
intuition"theunitaryand unique logic of a culture,and therefore
and
sub-systems
disregardsthe methodicalstudyof the different
of theirreal interrelations.In the second place,
theinvestigation
which is
a break is made with the hairsplitting
hyper-empiricism
unable to conceive of the synthesisof the "givens" accumulated
other than as of a convenientcompilationof small factsand of
relationsdetachedfromtheircontext. Only on conditionof recapturingin its peculiaritiesthe logic of each systemor sub-sysa society(and onlyrarelycoinciding
temof relationsconstituting
with the "concretetotalities"immediatelyofferedto intuition),
can homologiesbe establishedthatare able to bind thesub-systems
of different
of a single societyor the correspondingsub-systems
societies. Whethertheyare, forexample,homologiesestablished
societiesor, within
betweenthe educationalsystemsof different
areas in the field of cultural
a single society,between different
each of the comparedunits,
after
clear
works,theybecome
only
constitutedas autonomoussystemsby an explicitmethodological
decision,has been subjectedto an elaborationable to breakdown
thattoo easilyprovidethe "intuition"
theapparentconfigurations
of a unityof "style." It followsthat one cannot fail explicitly
and methodicallyto investigatethe relationsprovisionallyset in
brackets(e.g., those that bind the educational systemto the
economicor political system),that is the degree of autonomyof
each of theconstructed
systems.At thesame timeone mustwork

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TRENDS

703

towardbuilding the broadestsystemable to integratethese sysof each of them.


temswithoutlosinganythingof the specificity
The break with the spontaneousphilosophyof knowledgeof
thesocial world,representedby the decisionto give methodological primacyto objectiverelationsas against the agents entering
themand the representations
theymay formof them,constitutes
an inevitablemomentin the progressof anyscienceof man. One
mayrightlyfeelannoyedby the wonderand fascinationpresently
aroused,especiallyin France, by the most sophisticatedresults
of an approachlong since applied to othersciences;on the other
hand, one may be temptedsimplyto take the opposite view to
the fashionablecurrentsof the day. To overcomethe former
and to avoid the latter,it suffices
to remarkthat the verydelay
withwhichthisapproachtook root in anthropologicalworkwitnessesto the particularstrengthof the epistemologicalobstacles
that the sciencesof man had to overcomein order to elaborate
and apply the new systemof ' 'rational habits," in Bachelard's
words,able to supersedethe mechanisticand associationisticunconsciouswhichleads to conceivingthesocialworldas a collection
of separate entities. Yet, the philosophical glosses that today
thetheoreticalprinciples
risktransforming
surroundstructuralism
of anthropologicalknowledge,reactivatedor definedin a specific
typeof practiceby a numberof scholars,into a "fixist" (fixiste)
philosophyof knowledgederivedfroma reflectionupon already
of thosewho contribute
establishedscienceor fromthereflections
to science,and even to constituteas an anthropologicalideology
the anthropologicalthesesactuallyimplied in the methodological
principlesthat any application of the structuralapproach provisionallyassumes.
one aims at spellingout the principlesupon
If,on thecontrary,
whichthestructural
approachis founded,as expressedin the practice of scholars,and at definingthe limitsof theirvalidity,one
- an incannotfail to perceivethat the momentof objectivation
- contains the necessityof its
evitableyet still abstractmoment
own supersedure. It is because anthropologicalscience cannot

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704

SOCIAL RESEARCH

constituteitselfexcept by constructingits object as a systemof


objectiverelations,at the priceof bracketingthe naive experience
of apparentrelations,thatit still has to build the systemable to
encompassboth the objectivesenseof conductsorganizedaccording to observableand measurableregularities,and the particular
relationsthat individual agentshold with the regularitiesobjectivelydefiningtheirconditionof existenceand theobjectivesense
of theirconduct- a sense which possessesthembecause theyare
dispossessedof it. The renunciationimpliedby the theoryof the
systemof objectiverelationsis not completelyjustifiedexcept as
a preliminaryconditionof the constructionof the theoryof the
relationsbetween agents and the systemof objective relations.
relationsfromwhichcan be discovered
The systemof third-order
that orientor acthe unityof practice,with the representations
the
of
systemof relacompanyit, and of the objectivestructure
tions withinwhich it is realized, allows us to understandlivedthroughexperiencebetterthan the latterunderstandsitself,and
at the same timeto accountforthe rationalizationsagainstwhich
it has built itself.
can neitherbe contentedwith recapturing
The anthropologist
and understandingthe spontaneousconsciousnessof the social
fact,consciousnessthat by definitioncannot be reflected,nor,
even less, with apprehendingsuch a fact in its objective truth,
because of his privilegedpositionof an externalobserverwho renounces the rightto "act the social" in order to thinkabout it.
He mustreconcilethe truthof the systemof objectiverelations
of thosewho live them. In describing,
and thesubjectivecertainty
forexample,the internalcontradictionsof a systemof marriage
- contradictionsthat are not perceived as such in
transactions
the consciousnessof those who objectivelycarrytheir burdenconstitutesthe commonprincipleof the conthe anthropologist
duct and experienceof subjectswho feel such contradictionsunofgettingmarried;consequently,
der theformof theimpossibility
he obtains the means to discoverhow the relationsobjectively
chancesof marriageare realized in and
definingthe differential

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CURRENT

TRENDS

705

throughthe attitudesthatdirectlyconditionthe capacityto succeed in the competitionformarriage.21The anthropologist


gives
no creditto therepresentation
the subjectsformof theirsituation
and does not take literallythe false explanationsthey give of
theirconduct; he, on the other hand, takes this representation
and theserationalizations
seriouslyenoughto tryto discovertheir
truefoundationand he is not satisfieduntil he has succeeded in
unifyingthe truthimmediatelygiven to intuitionand the truth
toilsomelyacquired by scientificconstruction. Anthropological
sciencewould not perhapsdeserveanyconsiderationif it werenot
itstaskto restoretheagentsto the senseof theirpracticeby unifying, againstthe appearancesof their irreducibleopposition,the
truthof the lived-through
of conductand the truth
signification
of the objective conditionsthat make such conduct and the experienceof it possibleand probable.
To give primacyto the studyof the relationsbetweenobjective
relationsratherthan to the studyof the relationsbetween the
agentsand theserelations,or to ignorethe question of the relationshipbetweenthesetwo typesof relations,leads to the realism
of the structurewhich,takingthe place of the realismof the element,hypostatizesthe systemsof objective relationsin already
constructedtotalities,outside the historyof the individualor the
group. Without fallingback into a naive subjectivismor "personalism,"one must rememberthat, ultimately,objective relationsdo not exist and do not reallyrealize themselvesexcept in
and throughthe systemof dispositionsof the agents,produced
by the internalizationof objective conditions. Between the systemof objectiveregularitiesand the systemof directlyobservable
conducts a mediation always interveneswhich is nothing else
and of an inbut the habitus,geometricallocus of determinisms
of calculable probabilitiesand of liveddividual determination,
of
throughhopes, objectivefutureand subjectiveplans. Thus the
habitusof classas a systemof organicand mentaldispositionsand
21 Cf. P. Bourdieu, "Clibat et condition paysanne," Etudes rurales, 506, AprilSeptember1962,pp. 32-136.

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706

SOCIAL RESEARCH

of unconsciousschemesof thought,perceptionand action is what


allows the generation,with the well-foundedillusion of the
of all
creationof unforeseeablenoveltyor of freeimprovisation,
in
and
with
all
actions
objective
conformity
thoughts, perceptions
itself
been
within
and by
it
because
has
generated
regularities,
these
defined
conditionsobjectively
regularities.22Only a
by
of the relationsbetweenobjectiveremechanisticrepresentation
lationsand agentsdefinedby themmayinduce one to forgetthat
the habitus,the productof conditioningfactors,is the condition
forthe productionof thoughts,perceptionsand actionswhichare
not in themselvesthe directproductof the conditioningfactors,
though,once realized, they are made intelligible by the very
knowledgeof such factorsor, better,of the productiveprinciple
theyhave produced. Briefly,as a principleof a structured,but
tion of externality
not structural,
praxis,the habitus- internaliza
- containsthe reason of all objectivationof subjectivity.23
22About habitus(or ethos)of class as internalization
of the objectiveconditions
and mediationbetweenobjectivelycalculable probabilitiesand subjectivehopes,
en Algrie,Paris-LaHaye: Mouton,1962;
see: P. Bourdieu,Travail et travailleurs
les ingalitsdevant
2nd part, pp. 36-38; P. Bourdieu,"L'cole conservatrice
l'cole et devantla culture,"Revue franaisede Sociologie,VII, 1966,pp. 325-347;
P. Bourdieu and J. C. Passeron,"L'examen d'une illusion,"Revue franaisede
Sociologie,
April1968.
28Culture,whichmay be applied to the systemof objectiveregularities
as well
of the agentas a systemof internalized
as to the competence
models,would be a
bettertermthan habitus. However,thisoverdetermined
conceptrisksbeing misthe conditionsof its validity.
to defineexhaustively
understoodand it is difficult

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