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ambiguity. In this sense, we use the body as a

method of thinking about society. In anthropology,

there is another tradition, however, that has

examined how human beings are embodied and

how they acquire a variety of cultural practices

that are necessary for walking, sitting, dancing,

and so forth. The study of embodiment has been

the concern of anthropologists who have been

influenced, in particular, by the work of Marcel

Mauss, who invented the concept of “body techniques”

in the Journal de Psychologie Normale et

Pathologique (1935). This anthropological legacy encourages

us to think about the body as a multitude

of performances. These anthropological

assumptions have been developed in contemporary

sociology by Pierre Bourdieu in terms of the

concepts of hexis and habitus, by which our dispositions

and tastes are organized. For example,

within the everyday habitus of social classes,

Bourdieu showed in Distinction: A Social Critique of

the Judgement of Taste (1979 [trans. 1984]) that the

body is invested with symbolic capital (see social

capital) whereby the body is an expression of the

hierarchies of social power. The body is cultivated

within the particular habitus of social classes, and

it thus expresses the aesthetic preferences of different

class positions. This form of distinction is

illustrated by the different types of sport which

are supported by different social classes, and

which require different types of embodiment. Obviously

bodies that are developed for rugby may be

inappropriate for tennis, and these bodies express

the taste (the organization of preferences in a

habitus) of different social strata.

This development of interest in the body has

also involved a recovery of philosophical anthropology,

especially the work of Arnold Gehlen

(1904–76). In Man: His Nature and Place in the World,

Gehlen (1940 [trans. 1988]) argued that human

beings are “not yet finished animals.” By this

notion, he meant that human beings are biologically

poorly equipped to cope with the world into

which they are involuntarily born. They have no

finite or specific instinctual equipment for a given

environment, and therefore require a long period

of socialization in order to adapt themselves to

their social world. Human incompleteness provides

an anthropological explanation for the

human origins of social institutions. Gehlen’s

work has been important in the development

of contemporary sociology, especially in, for

example, Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann’s

The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the

Sociology of Knowledge (1966).

The contemporary sociology of the body has been

further influenced by twentieth-century feminism.

Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex (1949 [trans.

1972]) was indirectly a major contribution to the

study of the body, and in particular to the patriarchal

regulation of the female body. She argued

that women are not born, but become women

through social and psychological processes that

construct them as essentially female. Her research

on human aging in Old Age (1970 [trans. 1977]) drew

attention to the social invisibility and powerlessness

of older women. Her work inaugurated a tradition

of research on the social production of

differences in gender and sexuality. Feminist theories

of the body have been associated with social

constructionism, which posits that the differences

between male and female (bodies), that we take for

granted as if they were facts of nature, are socially

produced. Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch

(1971), Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics (1971), and Ann

Oakley’s Sex, Gender and Society (1972) were important

in demonstrating the difference between

biologically determined sex and the social construction

of gender roles and sexual identities.

The underlying theory of gender inequalities was

the idea of patriarchy, and much empirical research

in sociology has subsequently explored

how the social and political subordination of

women is expressed somatically in psychological

depression and physical illness. Much of the creative

work in this field went into research on anorexia

nervosa, obesity, and eating disorders, such as

Susan Bordo’s Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western

body body


Culture and the Body (1993). The popular literature

on this issue was influenced by Susan Orbach’s Fat

is a Feminist Issue (1984). More recently, there has

been increasing interest in the question of men’s

bodies and masculinity, for example in R. W. Connell’s

Masculinities (1995).

Critics argue that one paradoxical consequence

of this feminist legacy has been that the emphasis

on the social construction of women’s bodies has

led to the absence of any concern with the lived

body and embodiment. For example, Judith

Butler, drawing on the work of the Marxist philosopher

Louis Althusser, has argued in Bodies That

Matter (1993) that, in a social world dominated by

heterosexuality, bodies that matter are ones that

materialize in terms of this regulatory norm.

She argues that we must pay attention then to

the dominant discourses that interpellate

men and women into hierarchical positions in

society. In this approach, the body becomes

merely an element in the rhetorical construction

of gender relations in which the lived experience

of embodiment in daily practices is neglected.

The basic notion that the “naturalness” of the

human body is a social product has been applied

to an increasingly large array of topics. For

example, the sociological analysis of the body

has played a major role in the development of

the “social model” in disability studies in order

tomake a distinction between disability and impairment

in W. Seymour, Remaking the Body (1998) and

C. Barnes, G. Mercer, and T. Shakespeare, Exploring

Disability (1999). The sociological focus on the body

has also begun to transform the sociology of aging,

in, for example, C. A. Faircloth, Aging Bodies: Images

and Everyday Experience (2003). The sociology of the

body has also influenced dance studies, theories of

popular culture, and the study of sport, where

ethnographic studies have produced a rich collection

of empirical studies of the body in society in,

for example, H. Thomas and J. Ahmed, Cultural

Bodies: Ethnography and Theory (2004).

By treating the body as a representation, discourse,

or text, it becomes difficult to develop an

adequate sociology of performance. For example,

where dance studies have been influenced by

postmodernism and by the French philosopher

Gilles Deleuze (1925–95), there is little interest in

the ethnographic study of movement and performance,

despite Deleuze’s emphasis on movement

and event. From the perspective of

postmodern theory, bodily practice and action

become irrelevant to the understanding of the

body as cultural sign. For example, if sociologists

wanted to study ballet as performance rather than

as representation, they would need to pay attention

to the performing body. Richard Shusterman

in Performing Live (2000), drawing on the work of

Bourdieu and developing a pragmatist aesthetics

(see pragmatism and aesthetics) has argued that

an aesthetic understanding of performance such

as hip hop cannot neglect the embodied features

of artistic activity. The need for an understanding

of embodiment and lived experience is crucial in

understanding performing arts, but also for the

study of the body in sport. While choreography is

in one sense the text of the dance, performance

takes place outside the strict directions of the

choreographic work, and has an immediacy, which

cannot be captured by the idea of the body as text.

It is important to re-capture the intellectual contribution

of the phenomenology of human embodiment

in order to avoid the reduction of bodies

to cultural texts. The social differences between

men and women are consequences of culture,

but understanding two people doing the tango

requires some attention to bodily performances.

We might conclude therefore that there are two

dominant but separate traditions in the anthropology

and sociological study of the body. There is

either the cultural decoding of the body as a

system of meaning that has a definite structure

existing separately from the intentions and conceptions

of social actors, or there is the phenomenological

study of embodiment that attempts to

understand human practices, and is concerned to

understand the body in relation to the life-course

(of birth, maturation, reproduction, and death).

Bourdieu’s theory of practice offers a possible solution

to this persistent tension between meaning

and experience, or between representation and

practice. Bourdieu’s notions of habitus and practice

in Outline of a Theory of Practice (1972 [trans.

1977]) and Logic of Practice (1980 [trans. 1990]) provide

robust research strategies for looking simultaneously

at how social status differences are

inscribed on the body and how we experience

the world through our bodies that are ranked in

terms of their cultural capital. The analytical reconciliation

of these traditions can be assisted by

distinguishing between, first, the idea of the body

as representation, and, second, embodiment as

practice and experience. BRYAN S. TURNER

Bogardus scale

– see scales.

Boudon, Raymond (1934– )

A professor at the University of Paris, with Franc

¸ois Bourricaud, Boudon edited the Critical

body Boudon, Raymond (1934– )


Dictionary of Sociology (1982 [trans. 1989]), and

made important contributions to rational choice

theory in The Logic of Social Action (1979 [trans.

1981]) and (with Tom Burns) The Logic of Sociological

Explanation (1974). He worked with Paul Lazarsfeld

and they edited a collection of essays on the empirical

problem of causal mechanisms in sociological

explanations in L’analyse empirique de la

causalite´ (1966). One of his key interests is the

exploration of The Unintended Consequences of Action

(1977 [trans. 1982]). He has written extensively on

the classical tradition in sociology (with Mohamed

Cherkaoui) in The Classical Tradition in Sociology

(1997). He has also examined inequality, social

mobility, and educational opportunity in Mathematical

Structures of Social Mobility (1973) and Education,

Opportunity and Social Inequality (1974). He

has consistently addressed the question of social

change, for example in Theories of Social Change

(1984 [trans. 1986]). He has been a critic of cultural

relativism in The Origin of Values (2000) and The

Poverty of Relativism (2005). His study of Alexis de

Tocqueville has appeared as Tocqueville for Today


Bourdieu, Pierre (1930–2002)

Bourdieu’s work was always concerned with the

relationship between the ordinary behavior of

people in everyday life and the discourses constructed

by social scientists to explain that behavior.

Bourdieu made important contributions to

the philosophy of the social sciences, but he

insisted that these were meant to be practically

useful rather than abstract. Methodologically, he

argued for a dialectic between theory and practice,

claiming that, too often, social theory was

divorced from social enquiry and, equally, that

too much empirical research proceeded as if

it were possible to operate a-theoretically. The

titles of some of his texts are indicative of this

orientation: The Craft of Sociology with J.-C. Passeron

and J.-C. Chamboredon (1968 [trans. 1991]), Outline

of a Theory of Practice (1972 [trans. 1977]), The Logic of

Practice (1980 [trans. 1990]), and Practical Reason. On

the Theory of Action (1994 [trans. 1998]).

Born in southwestern France, Bourdieu studied

in 1950–4 at the Ecole Normale Supe´rieure, Paris.

His early social trajectory embodied a tension between

the indigenous cultural influences of his

family (what he was to call habitus) and the culture

which he needed to acquire (what he was to

call cultural capital, allied to social capital) in

order to communicate successfully in the field

of Parisian intellectual exchange. As a student,

he was influenced by phenomenology, historians

and philosophers of science, and Maurice Merleau-

Ponty. He served as a conscript in the French Army

in Algeria in the early years of the Algerian War of

Independence (1956–8) before gaining a post as an

assistant at the University of Algiers. He wrote

three books in which he presented the findings

of research carried out in Algeria. These showed

evidence of the influence of Claude Le´vi-Strauss

but, on returning to France in 1961, he became

secretary to the research group that had been

established by Raymond Aron. He ceased to present

himself as a social anthropologist and

became initiated as a “sociologist” in the 1960s,

but he always retained the sense that scientific

explanation, offered in whichever discourses, ran

the risk of being conceptually colonialist in a way

which was analogous with the French presence in

North Africa. During the 1960s, he carried out

research in relation to education and university

life. Working with J.-C. Passeron, this led to the

publication of The Inheritors (1964 [trans. 1979]) and

Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture (1970

[trans. 1977]). In the same decade, he also carried

out research on cultural production and reception,

leading to the publication of Photography: A

Middle-Brow Art (1965 [trans. 1990]) and The Love of

Art: European Art Museums and their Public (1966

[trans. 1990]). As a result of the translations into

English of his educational research, he was at first

primarily associated with the sociology of education,

but the analyses of photography and art

museums were the prelude to work on aesthetics

and taste which was most clearly presented in his

Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste

(1979 [trans. 1986]).

It was in the early 1970s that Bourdieu began to

define his intellectual position most clearly. He

revisited his Algerian fieldwork and reinterpreted

it in Outline of a Theory of Practice (1972 [trans. 1977]).

The original French text offered a critique of the

structuralism of his earliest articles, whilst the

English “translation” modified the original in

order to point towards the benefits of poststructuralism.

Bourdieu outlined a working epistemology

by suggesting that there should be three

forms of theoretical knowledge. The primary

form corresponds with the knowledge of their

situations held unreflectingly by social agents. It

could be said to be pre-logical or pre-predicative

knowledge. This category is explicable in terms of

the ontology of Martin Heidegger (1889–1976), as

well as of the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl

(1859–1938). It is the kind of taken-for-granted

knowledge which ethnomethodology endeavored

to elicit. Following the historical epistemology of

Bourdieu, Pierre (1930–2002) Bourdieu, Pierre (1930–2002)


Gaston Bachelard (1884–1962), Bourdieu argued

that scientific knowledge has to be deliberately

differentiated from such primary knowledge. If

primary knowledge is subjective, scientific knowledge

is a form of constructed objectivism. It

operates in accordance with rules of explanation

which are socially and historically contingent. So

that contingent explanations should not be taken

to be absolutely true, Bourdieu contended that

there had to be a second “epistemological break,”

whereby the conditions of production of objectivist

structuralism should be subjected to a secondlevel

sociological analysis. This was the origin of

Bourdieu’s commitment to “reflexive sociology,”

outlined in An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology

(1992 [trans. 1992]). For Bourdieu, poststructuralism

was not anti-structuralism. Poststructuralism

was able to derive benefit systematically

from the insights of both ethnomethodology and


Bourdieu did not advocate an armchair reflexivity.

By encouraging everyone to reflect on their

own situations and to analyze the provenance of

the conceptual framework within which they

undertook that reflection, Bourdieu believed that

he was encouraging a form of “socio-analytic encounter”

which would enable people to become

equal, participating members of social democracies.

After publishing his Homo Academicus (1984

[trans. 1988]) in which he analyzed the social conditions

of production of the field of Parisian

higher education and of his own work within

that field, Bourdieu began to deploy his accumulated

“cultural capital” within the political

sphere. Responding tacitly to the work of Louis

Althusser, Bourdieu analyzed sociologically the

construction of a “state apparatus” in his The State

Nobility (1989 [trans. 1996]) so as to encourage, in

contrast, the emergence of new sources of political

power, located in social movements. From the

mid-1990s until his death, Bourdieu was an influential

public figure in France, and his disposition

to favor the cause of the underprivileged gained

for him a following in an international political

context as well as in the field of international

social science. His socio-analytical method and

his political engagement were both demonstrated

in the project which he directed that was published

as The Weight of the World: Social Suffering in

Contemporary Society (1993 [trans. 1999]). To these

last years belong engaged texts such as Acts of

Resistance (1998 [trans. 1998]), but it was his last

course of lectures as professor at the Colle`ge de

France, Science de la science et re´flexivite´ (2003), which

best represents the balance of his intellectual and

social project. His work has been influential across

a variety of sociological subjects, irrespective of

the canonical status of areas of research enquiry.

His Pascalian Meditations (1997 [trans. 2000]), for

example, contributed importantly to the sociology

of the body. DEREK ROBBINS

British Marxist historians

This label refers to a diverse cohort of Marxist

writers who, from the 1930s onwards, individually

and collectively contributed to the development

of social history and historical materialism. There

are a number of disparate members within the

group, working in a number of distinct fields of

historical inquiry – ancient, medieval, and from

the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. The core

of the group includes: Maurice Dobb, whose

Studies in the Development of Capitalism (1946) began

a protracted debate on the transition from feudalism

to capitalism; Rodney Hilton, whose analysis

of feudalism in The Decline of Serfdom in Medieval

England (1969) focused on the English experience

of the peasantry; Christopher Hill, who, in The

World Turned Upside Down (1972), examined the

English Revolution and the ideas which arose

from it; E. P. Thompson, whose The Making of the

English Working Class (1963) outlines the historical

importance of working-class agency (see social

class), experience, and the processual nature of

class; and Eric Hobsbawm, who, in a monumental

four-volume study, the Age of Revolution (1962), the

Age of Industry (1968), the Age of Capital (1975), and

the Age of Empire (2000), provided an expansive

survey of social and political changes throughout

the world. Other, more peripheral figures within

the category include John Saville, V. G. Kiernan,

Geoffrey Ste. de Croix, George Rude´, and Perry


Many of these thinkers developed their political

commitments during the rise of fascism and after

the onset of World War II. Their related intellectual

perspective arose in response to Whig and

non-Marxist interpretations, including those of

Max Weber, R. H. Tawney, and Werner Sombart,

as well as against Soviet-sanctioned readings of

Marxism. With reference to the latter, they maintained

an ambiguous and tense relationship with

the British Communist Party, especially after the

Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956.

Despite their internal differences, as a collective

entity their work, as Harvey Kaye in The British

Marxist Historians (1984) shows, shares a number

of characteristics. First, there is a rejection of economic

and technological determinism: all these

scholars, though to different degrees, have seen

Bourdieu, Pierre (1930–2002) British Marxist historians


the Marxist explanatory use of the theory of base/

superstructure (see ideology) as highly restrictive

and problematic. Instead, they argued for the important

and irreducible role that culture, ideas,

and beliefs played in shaping the historical process

without, however, relapsing into idealism. Second,

a number of them were concerned with the transition

from feudalism to capitalism. Third, drawing

on a tradition of people’s history, they consistently

emphasized the actions, struggles, and point of

view of the lower classes; that is, they wrote from

a “history-from-below” perspective. Finally, they

reasserted the importance of class struggle, experience,

and consciousness as crucial factors in

understanding the historical process.

Both individually and collectively, their work

has had an important influence on the interpretation

of historical materialism, of the political

implications of history, and how history is taught

and understood. It also had a bearing on the development

of cultural studies. A number of the

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