This comprehensive book provides an indispensable introduction to the most significant figures in contemporary social theory. Grounded strongly in the European tradition, the profiles include Michel Foucault, J[um]urgen Habermas, Roland Barthes, Jean Baudrillard, Pierre Bourdieu, Zygmunt Bauman, Martin Heidegger, Frederic Jameson, Richard Rorty, Nancy Chodorow, Anthony Giddens, Stuart Hall, Luce Irigaray and Donna Haraway. In guiding students through the key figures in an accessible and authoritative fashion, the book provides detailed accounts of the development of the work of major social theorists and charts the relationship between different traditions of social, cultural and political thought.

Pierre Bourdieu

Pierre Bourdieu

Biographical Details and Theoretical Context

Bourdieu has taught us to beware the false impression of continuity implicit in the ‘biographical illusion’ (1994: 81–8), so that it is with some trepidation that I offer a view of his life. He was born in 1930, in a small market town in the Beam agricultural region of the Pyrenees, where his father was a postman: a man who would have moved between two worlds, part of a modern communication system within a traditional agricultural area.

Pierre Bourdieu owed his subsequent ‘belle carrière académique’ (as he has entitled others' achievements) to the local lycée, where he was taught classics. From there, as a promising pupil, he was moved to the famous Parisian lycée of Louis-le-Grand. He then entered ...

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