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Synopsis

Bourdieu's work is formidable-the journey is tough. Follow this French foreign legion-take an apple, take a hanky-but take this book.

Peter Beilharz , Professor of Sociology , La Trobe University

Pierre Bourdieu's work on the sociology of culture and language, on practical reason, on education, on citizenship and the cultures of poverty, and on a range of other topics is now coming to be seen as one of the 20th century's most important contributions to our thinking about the world. Understanding Bourdieu is a comprehensive and lucid introduction to his work. Measured and judicious, it's the best road map of this significant body of work currently available.

John Frow, Regius Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature, University of Edinburgh

You name it, Pierre Bourdieu has written about it. Now considered one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century, he has left his mark on most of the 'big' theoretical issues in the world of contemporary theory: gender, subjectivity, the body, culture, citizenship, and globalisation. His terms are now commonplace: 'social capital', 'cultural capital', 'field', and 'habitus'.

Bourdieu examines how people conduct their lives in relation to one another and to major social institutions. He argues that culture and education aren't simply minor influences, but as important as economics in determining differences between groups of people. Unlike the other grand systematisers Marx and Foucault, Bourdieu has tested these arguments in detailed fieldwork. His range is eclectic, his vision is vast, and his writing is often dense and challenging.

Understanding Bourdieu offers a comprehensive introduction to Bourdieu's work. It is essential reading for anyone tackling him for the first time.

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