This paper provides an assessment of Pierre Bourdieu's sociology based on a reading of his posthumously published lectures on the state in Sur l'État. It argues that the state was a foundational element in Bourdieu's rendition of the symbolic order of everyday life. As such, the state becomes equally pivotal in Bourdieu's sociology, the applicability of which rests on the existence of the state, which stabilizes the social fields and their symbolic action that constitute the object of sociology. The state, which Bourdieu considers a 'meta'-ordering principle in social life, ensures that sociology has a well-ordered object of study, vis-à-vis which it can posit itself as 'meta-meta'. The state thus functions as an epistemic guarantee in Bourdieu's sociology. A critical analysis of Bourdieu's sociology of the state offers the chance of a more fundamental overall assessment of Bourdieu's conception of sociology that has relevance for any critical sociological perspective that rests on the assumption of a meta-social entity, such as the state in Bourdieu's work, as a final ordering instance.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Critique, Pierre Bourdieu, Power, Social theory, Sociology, State
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-4446.12120, hdl.handle.net/1765/81295
Journal British Journal of Sociology
Citation
Schinkel, W. (2015). The sociologist and the state. An assessment of Pierre Bourdieu's sociology. British Journal of Sociology, 66(2), 215–235. doi:10.1111/1468-4446.12120