Pierre Bourdieu and Media Studies

August 27, 2012

Sociology is a Martial Art (2002) documentary about Bourdieu


Bourdieu, Cheraia

Pierre Bourdieu, Picturing Algeria (Colombia, 2012)

There is a new book of Pierre Bourdieu’s photos taken in Algeria in the early 1960s when he was researching his first books. Unfortunately these books on the War and the massive disruption it caused are not available in English. The photos are helpfully accompanied by some translations from them. Bourdieu is often accused of having an overly structuralist sociology, but in his books on Algeria–as in his collectively written The Weight of the World–he documents drastic changes in progress. The famous analysis of the Kabyle house (see below) needs to be accompanied by Bourdieu’s photos of Algerians forcibly relocated to military style encampments. Bourdieu shared with French Cinema Verite an understanding of the role of the camera: it helps the photographer to see in a different way, but also affects the subject. Many of Bourdieu’s photos are of people moving away from the camera, or half-turned in a different direction. The exception sometimes is photos of children.


Bourdieu On Television

Bourdieu, On Television (The New Press, 1998) is a slim book that belongs with Bourdieu’s activist books Acts of Resistance (1998) and Firing Back (2003). It is not a systematic study of television as a field but based on participant observation of the way television formats and presenters make it difficult to say anything significant or new on television.

Bourdieu and the Journalistic Field

Bourdieu and the Journalistic Field ed. Rodney Benson (2005)

Additional Reading

Rodney Benson, “News Media as a “Journalistic Field”: What Bourdieu Adds to New Institutionalism, and Vice Versa,” Political Communication (2006) online at: https://steinhardt.nyu.edu/scmsAdmin/uploads/000/734/Benson%20field%20theory%20and%20NI%20best%20copy.pdf

Nick Couldry, Media, Symbolic Power and the Limits of Bourdieu’s Field Theory, London School of Economics (2003) online at: http://www.lse.ac.uk/media@lse/research/mediaworkingpapers/pdf/ewp02.pdf

David Hesmondhalgh, “Bourdieu, the media and cultural production,” Media Culture and Society (2006) online at http://www3.nd.edu/~sskiles/soco%20articles/Hesmondhalgh%202006.pdf


Bourdieu’s lectures on the State, to be published in July 2014. There is a summary in David Swartz, “The State as the Central Bank of Symbolic Credit.” Presented at the 99th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, San Francisco, August 14-17, 2004 [available online]


Kabile house

Bourdieu’s diagram of the Kabile house should be read in relation to photos he took of these houses with the roof removed by the French Army during the Algerian War of Independence (1954-62).


Advanced Topic

Compare the work of Paddy Scannell and Pierre Bourdieu on language and power 

Bourdieu, Passeron and Saint Martin, Academic Discourse (Polity 1994)

Bourdieu, Language and Symbolic Power (Harvard 1991)

Scannell ed. Broadcast Talk (SAGE 1991)

Media Culture and Society Vol 8 No. 4 (1986) issue on broadcast talk edited by Paddy Scanell [access through University library]

Interview with Professor Paddy Scannell,Westminister Papers in Communication and Culture Vol. 4, issue 2, online at: http://www.westminster.ac.uk/camri/publications/wpcc

Interview with Pierre Bourdieu [paste addess into Google] loicwacquant.net/…/BOURDIEUWACQUANT- FORSOCIOANALYSISINTELLECTUALS.pdf


%d bloggers like this: