Through historical studies of some of the work of Montesquieu, Comte, Durkheim, Boas, Morgenthau, Aron and Bourdieu, Derek Robbins examines the changing and competing conceptualisations of the political and the social in the Western European intellectual tradition. He suggests that we are now experiencing a new ‘dissociation of sensibility’ in which political thought and its consequences in action have become divorced from social and cultural experience. Developing further the ideas of Bourdieu which he has presented in books and articles over the last twenty years, Robbins argues that we need to integrate the recognition of cultural difference with the practice of international politics by accepting that the ‘field’ of international political discourse is a social construct which is contingent on encounters between diverse cultures. ‘Everything is relative’ (Comte) and ‘everything is social’ (Bourdieu), not least international politics.

Bourdieu: Reflexive Sociologism and the Field of Politics

Bourdieu: Reflexive Sociologism and the Field of Politics


In ‘Une sociologie des relations internationales’ (1963), Aron made the point that his friends, Jean-Daniel Reynaud and Alain Touraine, had said to him that there was no trace in his researches of ‘true sociology’ (Aron, 2006: 1057; see Notes to Chapter 5), by which they meant empirical research using well-established sociological concepts. It was manifestly the case that Aron had never undertaken empirical sociological research. Alongside his chair at the Sorbonne, Aron was appointed a Director of Studies at the École Pratique des Hautes Études in 1960, and he set about remedying this empirical deficiency in the same year. He established a research group which he called the European Centre of Historical Sociology and he employed two assistants to develop ...

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