The Sacred and the Profane:
The Arbitrary Legacy of Pierre Bourdieu

Pierre Bourdieu (2000) Pascalian Meditations, Cambridge: Polity Press. pp. ISBN 0-7456-2055-8.

Pierre Bourdieu (2001) Masculine Domination, Cambridge: Polity Press. pp. ISBN 0-7456-2256-8.

Karl Maton

University of Cambridge

One faces an intriguing paradox when reviewing the work of Pierre Bourdieu: it is becoming increasingly difficult to critique his oeuvre, though for reasons that may not immediately spring to mind. The difficulty arises not from such internal issues as the voluminous nature, theoretical complexity or empirical breadth of Bourdieu’s work—these make the task harder but all the more worthwhile. Rather, the problem emanates from something the analysis of which represents one of Bourdieu’s principal achievements: the logic of the academic game. Bourdieu’s star has been in the ascendant in recent years, with increasing numbers of translations of, introductions to, and reviews of his work. His status in the pantheon of social scientific thinkers has thereby become intimately interconnected with the careers of growing numbers of recontextualisers (commentators, translators, reviewers, etc.) and so subject to the struggles of the academic field. That more people have a stake and interest in the intellectual position named ‘Pierre Bourdieu’ is one reason why his work can now evoke an almost religious fervour in both support and denunciation. The current logic of the social scientific field tends to produce personalised dichotomies; one is held to be either for or against Bourdieu—no other position is recognised. Bourdieu’s work has become either sacred (and to be praised in genuflection) or profane (and so to be damned to the outer circles of academia). In such a climate sympathetic critique, a work of immanent development rather than hagiography or criticism, represents an abomination and thus may bring a hail of personal derision and ire upon one’s head from both sides of this false divide. [1]

The death of Pierre Bourdieu in 2002 heightens this predicament; with his passing, Bourdieu’s achievements were much discussed, weighed and evaluated. As this revaluation now dissipates we are left with the question of what to do beyond Bourdieu. Bourdieu’s work rests at a critical juncture: his contribution may be kept behind glass, a museum exhibit, labelled, excavated for meanings and expounded on or ignored but nonetheless unchanging; or the intellectual project to which he contributed may be continued, developed, built upon, and thus Bourdieu’s contribution (ultimately) developed and changed. Each path has its dangers. On the one hand, attempts to secure the integrity of the approach may lead, as the plenarium is preserved by a priesthood, to its ossification. On the other hand, the furthering of Bourdieu’s intellectual project may, with the death of its author, lead to proliferation and fragmentation as competing ancestries branch off and leave little sense of a shared project. To this conundrum, the question of the role of canonic works and intellectual traditions, there is of course no easy answer—it is one which has engaged cultural studies since its emergence. Thus, one could say that the question of what to do with Bourdieu’s inheritance represents, in microcosm, the canonic conundrum facing cultural studies as a whole; to address how to move beyond Bourdieu is thus to address in nuce the future form of advance in cultural studies.

Ironically, the answer to this conundrum lies within perhaps the single most important underlying principle of Bourdieu’s work, one which generated the distinctive contribution he bequeathed but that is rarely articulated in revaluations of his legacy: the quest to reveal the sacred as profane. It is this driving impulse which generates the principal contributions and the key areas for development of Bourdieu’s intellectual project; it represents the (often unrecognised) linchpin for moving beyond Bourdieu. It provides, in other words, the rationale for and focus of a productive critique of Bourdieu’s approach, as it is the locus of both its strength and, potentially, its weakness. Moreover, far more than empiricist considerations of his substantive attention to or neglect of questions of culture or power, it is this underexamined dimension to Bourdieu’s work which represents its principal point of contact in form and spirit with the informing projects of cultural studies, however different their realisations within their very different social and intellectual contexts. It is thus in addressing this underlying impetus to reveal the sacred as profane that one can see the lessons of his legacy for cultural studies. As such, it forms the principal focus of this review article. I begin by exploring the nature of this sacred and profane linchpin, then highlight its possible problems, before finally turning to address how these problems may be overcome and thus how the intellectual project may now be advanced further.

‘Eternalising the arbitrary’

The linchpin is the analysis of a process that Bourdieu refers to as ‘eternalising the arbitrary’ in the preface to the English language translation of Masculine Domination. This slim volume, a best-seller in France, illustrates clearly this key dimension of Bourdieu’s project. Here he focuses on relations between the sexes, aiming to combat the ‘transformation of history into nature, of cultural arbitrariness into the natural’ (2001: 2, original emphasis) by showing how the form taken by these relations, and the masculine domination which currently characterises them, while presented as necessary, universal and eternal, are in reality arbitrary, socially constructed and historically contingent. The quest is to debunk any sense of naturalness about relations between the sexes and show their basis in arbitrary social relations of power. For example, Bourdieu argues that

far from playing the founding role that they are sometimes given, the visible differences between the male and female sex organs are a social construction which can be traced back to the principles of division of androcentric reason, itself grounded in the division of the social statuses assigned to men and women.
(2001: 15).

The point to note here is not the content of the argument but rather the form taken by the analysis. Raymond Aron, in Politics and History (1971), stated: ‘To customs and beliefs, the very ones we hold sacred, sociology ruthlessly attaches the adjective ‘arbitrary’.’ This summarises succinctly the main thrust of Bourdieu’s oeuvre: nothing is to remain sacred. His project is informed by a desire to, as he puts it in this study, ‘point out that what appears, in history, as being eternal is merely the product of a labour of eternalization performed by interconnected institutions’ (2001: viii)— a conscious drive to profanise. It is this impulse that underlies the cornerstone of Bourdieu’s widely discussed legacy: a subtly theorised contextualism. Cultural studies is often defined by its ‘radical contextualism’ (e.g. Grossberg 1998) and could be described inter alia as born of an effort to sociologise and historicise such subject areas as literary criticism. However, in a culture of commitment rather than of consequence (Maton 2002), such aims and intentions have often outrun results producing a rhetoric-reality gap (Maton & Wright 2002). What many often call for, Bourdieu delivers: an empirically grounded, theoretically sophisticated contextualism which enables not only thicker description but also thicker explanation. I am referring here to the well-known theoretical framework (comprising such interlocking concepts as ‘field’, ‘capital’, ‘habitus’, etc.) which Bourdieu developed in his analyses of a series of fields of practice (educational, literary, cultural, artistic, etc.) to provide a rich and complex account of the positionality of symbolic forms in time and space.

A clear example of this drive to profanise and the conceptual rewards it can yield is provided by another of Bourdieu’s later works, Pascalian Meditations (2000). In this text Bourdieu focuses on the realm of philosophy and the basis of knowledge claims. He philosophically reflects on philosophical reflection with the aim of breaking ‘the enchanted circle of collective denial’ (2000: 5) and restoring what has become viewed as ‘pure’ or ‘abstract’ categories of thought to their determining social and historical conditions of existence. In this realm the sacred is epitomised by notions of ‘knowledge for knowledge’s sake’ and belief in unchanging, universal epistemological standards of truth. Bourdieu is determined to reveal both the social conditions of possibility of this standpoint and its deleterious effects on knowledge. He argues that belief in a detached, uninvolved or ‘freewheeling’ intellectual position, one enabling ‘pure’ thought, legitimates and masks not only underlying relations of power but also, and just as importantly, systematic distortions in the knowledge produced by such beliefs. Bourdieu identifies three sources of taken for granted presuppositions shaping one’s knowledge claims, of increasing generality: one’s individual social position and trajectory, the doxa of one’s field of practice, and the doxa common to all high autonomy fields. The last of these is Bourdieu’s principal concern in Pascalian Meditations. It is, he argues, the most tacit and deep-seated of the three; whereas one’s individual prejudices are liable to be contested by others within the field, the distortions resulting from the position and structure of the field as a whole are less obvious and shared by all field members, indeed by all members of fields enjoying relatively high autonomy from economic and political interests.

Such cultural fields, Bourdieu argues, afford their members a distance from necessity, one enabling these actors a relation to the everyday world of leisurely distance or ‘skhol’. This skhol is embodied in practices which ‘play seriously’ in ‘time liberated from practical occupations and preoccupations’ (2000: 13). While practices in the arena of the everyday are a matter if not of life and death then often of making a living, when considered from a position of skhol they become transformed into matters for playful discussion—a kind of intellectual gymnastics from which practical necessity is absent or repressed. While is still much at stake in intellectual discussion, it is now primarily symbolic rather than economic capital—it has a different form and context. Bourdieu is highlighting here how practices are decontextualised, abstracted and recontextualised in the process of becoming material to be analysed and discussed. Bourdieu thus argues that when we withdraw from the world in order to make sense of the world we create a new form of what can be understood as the objectifying relation between object and subject (Maton 2003), one different to those engaged within the everyday world. This, he maintains, generates a different understanding of its constitutive activities—the difference between, for example, a synoptic ‘bird’s eye’ view of a city and the experience of the individual pedestrian. However much one attempts to mask or avoid this by phenomenologically ‘giving voice to’ the view from below, a fundamental difference remains between scholastic reason and practical reason when understood in terms of their different social positions and thus their objectifying relations. (It is important to note that ethnographic, hermeneutic, even biographical approaches do not escape this problem, indeed they may mask it more effectively). The problems Bourdieu highlights for knowledge arise when the scholastic point of view is put forward as being the only view or the view motivating everyone; i.e. when scholastic reason eclipses practical reason as the logic of practice in accounts of the social world. Such a move attempts in effect to universalise and neutralise the scholastic point of view, tacitly proclaiming it free of its moorings in social and historical space—it is treated as if it holds for everyone everywhere at all times: ‘the errors of philosophy. . . often have as their common root in skhol and the scholastic disposition’ (2000: 31). Here one can see again Bourdieu’s key concern with contextualisation and the arbitrary: in brief, the very nature of the scholastic position of studying the world tends to produce an indifference to the significance of context and coats what is arbitrary with a veneer of the eternal. In contrast, Bourdieu’s aim is to restore this sacred knowledge to its profane location in time and space, showing this self-proclaimed ‘eternal’ to itself be arbitrary.

The temporary and the eternal

If Bourdieu’s focus on the myriad ways power relations work to eternalise the arbitrary has provided the basis for a complex and subtle contextualism, it is also the cornerstone of any positive movement beyond Bourdieu. The underlying principle of the strength of Bourdieu’s approach is also its potential weakness, particularly as his star rises further in the intellectual firmament. In short, the danger is that it could appear there is nothing beyond the arbitrary, that everything is profane and nothing is sacred. This possibility is now nearer because with Bourdieu’s passing there is a temptation to make what he claimed to be a temporary and strategic emphasis on the arbitrary into an eternal verity: a new, inverted form of eternalising the arbitrary. There is also the possibility of failing to recognise that Bourdieu is always pointing towards something just beyond his reach: the role of the non-arbitrary in knowledge, i.e. that which cannot be reduced to extrinsic relations of power. I now briefly consider these dangers in turn before finally turning to how the direction being indicated by these warning signs may be avoided and the promise held out by Bourdieu’s legacy be brought to fruition.

As I highlight elsewhere (Maton 2003), Bourdieu acknowledged a tendency to sociological reductionism within his approach but argued it was strategic. In particular, he stated that his recurrent emphasis on the arbitrary nature of apparently neutral and ahistorical practices—conceptualised through the notions of capital, interest and interestedness—was temporary:

The notion of interest . . . was conceived as an instrument of rupture intended to bring the materialist mode of questioning to bear on realms from which it was absent and on the sphere of cultural production in particular. It is the means of a deliberate (and provisional) reductionism.
(1988: 1).

Strategies can be habit-forming; Bourdieu’s own notion of hysteresis describes how practices may continue well after their evoking contexts have vanished. It is interesting here to note that, once established, Bourdieu’s theoretical framework remained little changed in several decades. [2] Contextualism shows itself again here: surveyed with a wide lens rather than microscopically examined or—a very unBourdieuan move—uncritically accepting Bourdieu’s own characterisation of his intellectual trajectory, the tendency of his major analyses is for the contextual field of study to change but the basic approach, concepts, and arguments to remain fundamentally the same. This basic matrix underlies such diverse studies as The Inheritors, The Logic of Practice, Reproduction, Distinction, Homo Academicus, The State Nobility and The Rules of Art, despite their apparent differences in style, subject and temporal location.

This is, of course, not necessarily a negative feature. In a disciplinary map structured around inbuilt obsolescence and new ‘breaks’ based on historical amnesia, such consistency is to be commended not condemned. However, it also tends to cement an ostensibly ‘provisional’ reductionism. Our virtues may become our vices. As Bourdieu’s approach becomes increasingly accepted, the danger is that sociological reductionism will become permanently embedded into the foundations of the approach. The result would be, paradoxically, to eternalise the arbitrary. It would, in other words, reproduce in reverse the very errors the emphasis on the ‘arbitrary’ was intended to rectify. There is always a danger that one becomes warped in response to one’s opponents; one may end up their mirror image. Bourdieu’s approach was intended to break open, to disrupt conventional attitudes to culture, art, knowledge, and for forth. He aimed to expose the hidden distortions, biases and relations of domination masked by belief, in the non-arbitrary, the universal and unchanging in the realm of culture by showing how what was presented as eternal was in reality arbitrary. Bourdieu’s principal targets were thus typically forms of belief in intrinsic value, such as Kantian notions of the pure aesthetic and liberal humanist notions of knowledge for knowledge’s sake; his major studies have (with the exception of arguably his weakest work, on television) tended to concentrate on cultural fields of relatively high autonomy (such as education or art). These foci and targets have encouraged the ‘provisional reductionism’ to remain in place. However, contexts change; as Bourdieu’s work and the general thrust of his argument becomes evermore widely accepted there is the possibility of failing to live up its high standard of contextualism by neglecting to appreciate that this emphasis on the arbitrary at the expense of the non-arbitrary, on function rather than form, in short on notions of culture over Culture, may become itself a distorting feature of the field. If these become the orthodoxy then what was intended as an ‘instrument of rupture’ becomes an instrument for maintaining a new status quo.

Does any of this matter? Bourdieu believed so. Alongside his focus on revealing the eternal to be arbitrary, he emphasised that this was not merely a unmasking exercise. The two books I focus on here, Masculine Domination and Pascalian Meditations, are littered with examples of Bourdieu distancing his work from condemnation and praise as debunking; for example:

It is tempting (and ‘profitable’) to proceed as if a simple reminder of the social conditions of ‘creation’ were the expression of a desire to reduce the unique to the generic, the singular to the class ... as if determinism, for which sociologists are so much reproached, were . . . a matter of belief or even a sort of cause on which one took up a position, either for or against
(2000: 6)

Bourdieu repeatedly returns in his work to the question of whether what I have termed here his drive to profanise is merely what he calls, quoting Virginia Woolf, ‘the pleasure of disillusioning’ (2001: 109) and always emphasises that there is more to it than that. In Pascalian Meditations, for example, he argues at length that he comes not to condemn philosophy but to liberate it from chains of its making. This peculiar ‘kind of negative philosophy that was always liable to appear self-destructive’ (2000: 7) continually hints at something beyond the arbitrary, the profane, the social context. Bourdieu expends considerable energy on attempting to reveal and undo distortions to knowledge; the aim is to work towards undistorted truth. Indeed, Bourdieu wrote much of ‘truth’, ‘science’ and the necessity for a solid epistemological basis for social science—these foci, despite suggestions by some commentators to the contrary (a reductionism of the kind being discussed here), cannot be reduced to the national context of his home intellectual field. Bourdieu, the analyst of ‘symbolic violence’, the social reproduction effects of cultural reproduction and the sociological basis of knowledge, was scathing about those ‘spiritualistic (and conservative)’ critics of science who

see an assertion as just a disguised injunction or order, to see logic as a ‘thought police’, to see the claim to scientificity as a mere ‘truth effect’ designed to secure obedience or as a disguised aspiration to hegemony inspired by the will to power
(2000: 29).

Along with Pascal, Bourdieu argued the need to avoid ‘two extremes: to exclude reason, to admit reason only’ (1660, 253, quoted Bourdieu, 2000; 72). The latter is the error of the ‘pure’ gaze against which Bourdieu set his whole approach; the former is the potential error into which this approach could fall and, crucially, that he wished to avoid. Culture is more than an epiphenomena of power, a reflection of vested interests; consider, for example, his statement that ‘the discovery that someone who has discovered the truth had an interest in doing so in no way diminishes his discovery’ (2000: 3). Here we hear the return of the repressed eternal (albeit now historically and sociologically wiser). It is clearly important for Bourdieu that not everything is arbitrary.

Beyond Bourdieu: restoring the sacred

Despite these arguments, and thus despite his aims and intentions, the effect of Bourdieu’s theoretical framework as it is currently formulated is to suggest that everything is arbitrary. In a perceptive analysis, LiPuma (1993) highlighted three dimensions of arbitrariness in Bourdieu’s approach. First, culture is arbitrary when viewed comparatively. Second, within any single culture the relative valuations of various cultural forms and products are arbitrary. These two, I would suggest, constitute the basis of the strengths of Bourdieu’s approach. Third, and most importantly here, LiPuma identified an ‘absolute substantive theory of arbitrariness’ (1993: 17). Cultural forms, contents and practices are considered by Bourdieu to be entirely interchangeable—anything could have served the same function as anything else. There is, in other words, nothing intrinsic to a specific cultural form or manifestation which lends itself to serving a particular function within the historical evolution of bourgeois distinction. As Bernstein argued, this form of arbitrariness excludes certain questions and foci:

To ask a question about the relation of a given field content (‘word’, ‘image’, etc.) to the specialized structure of the field would be to propose that a given field content was not arbitrary. To say that the specialized structure was, in part, a function of the internal specialized structure of the contents, in Bourdieu’s terms, would be an incorrigible proposition. It would most likely lead to a charge of essentialism reinforced by a secondary, more heinous charge of fetishism.
(1996: 169-170)

In short, the internal structure of a symbolic system is said to have no structuring significance for its social field. As Bernstein put it, Bourdieu’s approach sheds considerable light on ‘who’, ‘where’, ‘when’, ‘how’ and ‘why’, but not ‘what’. There is thus no non-arbitrary, no surplus element to knowledge or culture; culture is always and everywhere a reflection of arbitrary social relations of power and nothing but. In terms of the example from Pascalian Meditations of the influence of skhol, it is not the structure of scholastic reason and practical reason in themselves but rather their relations to practical practice that attracts Bourdieu’s analytical gaze. It does not matter what form scholastic reason or practical reason take in themselves; the distorting effects reside in the different social situations they reflect (practical practice and skhol, respectively). The structuring of knowledge is thus an epiphenomena of social contexts. The approach enables a subtly theorised understanding of how contexts shape culture (the benefits of which should be not understated) but at the expense of making culture nothing but contingent and arbitrary.

Where, then, to go from here? What might an analysis of knowledge (for example) which moves beyond the profane and arbitrary look like? It would be remiss not to briefly illustrate how this absent non-arbitrary dimension might be analysed. One possible means for doing so is provided by the later work of Basil Bernstein on ‘vertical and horizontal discourse’.[3] This sets out a means of analysing the structure of everyday knowledge or ‘horizontal discourse’, which he defines as ‘a set of strategies which are local, segmentally organised, context specific and dependent, for maximising encounters with persons and habitats’ (2000: 157). This is contrasted with ‘vertical discourse’ or ‘specialised symbolic structures of explicit knowledge; (p. 160). The latter can take two forms. The first represents ‘a series of specialised languages, each with its own specialised modes of interrogation and specialised criteria’ with non-comparable principles of description based on different, often opposed, assumptions (such as the various approaches of the social sciences). The second is ‘an explicit, coherent, systematically principled and hierarchical organisation of knowledge’ which develops through the integration of knowledge at lower levels and across an expanding range of phenomena (p. 161), such as the natural sciences. Space prevents further elaboration here except to say that Bernstein systematically conceptualises these discourses in such a way that one can describe any particular cultural or symbolic object or practice as characterised by structure X, compared to W, Y and Z. Thus one can compare—despite differences of or changes in content—the structuring of symbolic products across contexts and over time.

If, for the purpose of illustration, we imagine Bernstein’s two forms of discourse as analogous to practical reason (horizontal) and scholastic reason (vertical), then this conceptualisation of discourse enables a systematic analysis of the process of recontextualisation that Bourdieu describe in his account of skhol. Bernstein provides the means to analyse the structuring of horizontal discourse (or practical reason), its recontextualisation (under the influence of skhol) and its subsequent (re)structuring as different forms of vertical discourse (or scholastic reason). Where Bourdieu sensitises us to the difference between the two forms of understanding and the differing social positions which help generate them, Bernstein’s concepts could help analyse and compare the form taken by practical and scholastic reason. Thus the distortions enabled by skhol may be analysed rather than simply asserted. Moreover, the forms these symbolic objects take can be shown to be not entirely arbitrary. One can show, for example, how the tendency of scholastic reason to decontextualise and derealise its objects is related to its intrinsic structure and is not simply the reflection of its contextual field’s distance from necessity. This is to say that there are non-arbitrary reasons underlying the shape of reason; that is its intrinsic form may be restored as central to its understanding alongside its underlying social relations of power. Not everything is contingent and profane.

Some profane considerations

In keeping with its focus, I have uttered a number of profanities in this review article. From the viewpoint of Bourdieu’s approach, a call to restore the sacred (the non-arbitrary) and the use of a theorist typically viewed as antagonistic to do so may be seen as profane. However, I argue that this development aims to build upon what is valuable, what is, so to speak, sacred in Bourdieu’s legacy. Bourdieu’s work has provided an extraordinarily rich and subtle analysis of how the relations of power work to naturalise the socially constructed, universalise the partial and eternalise the arbitrary, across a host of social fields of cultural practice. If this legacy is not only to be inherited but also to be kept alive and furthered, then it should be built on and developed. Bourdieu repeatedly argued the need for theoretical development; the ‘provisional’ reductionism he introduced in his comprehensive arbitrariness is a key place for that development. One central theme which shines through both these later works by Bourdieu is that his approach is a characterised by a proclaimed commitment to knowledge, truth, to understanding what used to be called ‘the object in itself’. This aspect of his project(s) can be easily occluded in favour of his dedication to uncovering the distorting effects of relations of power. I end with a quotation from Pascal (1660, 387) which, though not cited in Pascalian Meditations, summarises well Bourdieu’s profane legacy and the future direction for his approach: ‘Thus, this proves nothing else but that it is not certain that all is uncertain.’


[1] It is worth noting that Bourdieu (1994) himself argued that being a ‘Marxist’, ‘Weberian’ or (by extension) a ‘Bourdieuan’ is a religious choice rather than a scientific one. This is not to say that any policing of a theory is problematic but rather to highlight differing bases for policing. Bourdieu argued against criteria for judgement following the intellectual equivalent of a nationalist logic, a ‘my theorist, right or wrong’ approach which elevates the theorist (and, though tacitly, the author as sponsor); rather, Bourdieu emphasised practical adequacy to a (constructed) object of study.  [—>main text]

[2] It is often noted that the dates for Bourdieu’s works in translation distort the trajectory of his thought. In English, for example, what had been in the 1970s the occasional article and book had become by the late 1990s a flood of major works as Bourdieu’s ‘back catalogue’ was translated. My argument that Bourdieu’s basic approach and theoretical framework has remained fundamentally unchanged since relatively early in his intellectual trajectory is only strengthened by dating texts to their first French publication and also draws strength from Bourdieu’s own tendency to highlight the early provenance of particular concepts of arguments.   [—>main text]

[3] I am not suggesting Bernstein’s approach be bolted onto that of Bourdieu, though such misreadings are likely for in using the work of Bernstein to complement that of Bourdieu on this occasion and for the specific purpose of illustration I shall, no doubt, incur not only the wrath of those whose status depends on the distinctiveness (and thus self-sufficiency) of Bourdieu’s work but also, conversely, those whose position depends on maintaining the distinction of Bernstein—a plague from both their houses. Ironically, one can fruitfully use both theorists to analyse why using both theorists is so likely to be attacked: social science is a horizontal knowledge structure where distinction between approaches is the basis of claims to symbolic capital. [—>main text]


Bernstein, B. (1996). Pedagogy, Symbolic Control and Identity: Theory, research, critique. London, Taylor & Francis.

Bourdieu, P. (1988a). On interest and the relative autonomy of symbolic power. Working Papers and Proceedings of the Center for Psychosocial Studies, 20.

Bourdieu, P. (1994). In Other Words. Cambridge, Polity Press.

Bourdieu, P. & Wacquant, L.J.D. (1992). An Invitation To Reflexive Sociology. Cambridge, Polity Press.

Grossberg, L. (1998). The cultural studies crossroads blues, European Journal of Cultural Studies, 1(1): 65-82.

LiPuma, E. (1993). Culture and the concept of culture in a theory of practice. In C. Calhoun, E. LiPuma & M. Postone (Eds.), Bourdieu: Critical perspectives. Cambridge, Polity Press.

Maton,. K. (2002). Popes, Kings and cultural studies: Placing the commitment to non-disciplinarity in historical context. In S. Herbrechter (Ed.), Cultural Studies: Interdisciplinarity and translation. Rodopi, Amsterdam, 31-53.

Maton, K. (2003). Reflexivity, relationism & research: Pierre Bourdieu and the epistemic conditions of social scientific knowledge, Space and Culture, 6(1): 50-63.

Maton, K. & Wright, H.K. (2002). Returning cultural studies to education. International Journal of Cultural Studies 5(4), 379-392.

Pascal, B. (1660/1931) Pensées (translated W.F. Trotter), London, Dent.

Biographical note

Karl Maton (University of Cambridge) is currently completing his doctoral thesis, which develops inter alia Bourdieu’s approach to create an epistemological and historical sociology of knowledge through an analysis of the emergence of cultural studies in post-war English higher education. He has published in sociology, cultural studies, linguistics, education and philosophy (see

©2003 Karl Maton. All rights reserved.
Published by The Autodidact Project with permission of Karl Maton.

"Popes, Kings & Cultural Studies: Placing the commitment to non-disciplinarity in historical context"
by Karl Maton

"Historical Amnesia" by Karl Maton & Rob Moore

[Basil Bernstein, Elaborated & Restricted Linguistic Codes]
from The Dialectic of Ideology and Technology by Alvin W. Gouldner

Reflexivity & Situatedness Study Guide


The Karl Maton web site

"Reflexivity, Relationism, & Research:
Pierre Bourdieu and the Epistemic Conditions of Social Scientific Knowledge
by Karl Maton

Karl Maton @

Home Page | Site Map | What's New | Coming Attractions | Book News
Bibliography | Mini-Bibliographies | Study Guides | Special Sections
My Writings | Other Authors' Texts | Philosophical Quotations
Blogs | Images & Sounds | External Links

CONTACT Ralph Dumain

Uploaded 22 November 2003
Link added 3 June 2008

Site ©1999-2022 Ralph Dumain