Pierre Bourdieu and Language in Society

J.M.E. Blommaert

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This paper argues that Bourdieu’s oeuvre presents a radically new set of images on man and society in which language, as object and practice, assumes a key role. Three aspects of Bourdieu’s work are highlighted: (1) Bourdieu’s New Left-inspired search for a “socialized humanity” and his related interest in American symbolic interactionism; (2) the particular “methodological loop” he constructed in his work, in which ethnographic insight was used as the foundation for statistical work, which in turn yielded new ethnographic issues; (3) the development of “nexus concepts” such as habitus, in which the traditional “micro-macro” divide was crossed, leading to an analytic of “the big in the small” which enables ethnographic generalization. These three points, I argue, continue to serve as a fertile source of inspiration for innovative and explorative research into language in society.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 13 Feb 2015

Publication series

NameWorking Papers in Urban Language and Literacies


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