Bourdieu and Practice Theory

in Language of the Gun

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print February 2006 | ISBN: 9780226316086
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226316079 | DOI:
Bourdieu and Practice Theory

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This chapter focuses on practice theory and on the writings of Pierre Bourdieu, who self-consciously intervened in an effort to overcome the debate between Sartre and Lévi-Strauss: How does structure relate to individual decision making? In the case of the Catalina interviews (interviews of young males at the Catalina Mountain School in Tucson, Arizona), how are the registers of gun talk connected to the practice of carrying guns? Do they help us understand why the Catalina youths possess guns, and can they help us predict which youths carry? Do the registers influence practice so as to perpetuate or undermine the language itself? Do the structures change over time? And what would account for the change? In sum, how do the registers of gun talk relate to the individual decisions to carry guns? Pierre Bourdieu specifically addressed these questions, and the approach he helped develop—known as “practice theory”—represents the perfect illustration of a third methodological approach to social science.

Keywords: Pierre Bourdieu; practice theory; individual decision making; gun carrying; Catalina youths; methodological approach; social science

Chapter.  4906 words. 

Subjects: Criminal Law

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