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Bourdieu and historical materialism

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Chapter Summary

Bourdieu has produced a conceptual system whose relationship with Marx's is enigmatic. It involves a similar terminology: capital, reproduction, classes, and so on. In often analogous terms, it analyses modern forms of domination, providing a critique of them that is emancipatory in intent. This chapter examines how Bourdieu retranslates a number of Marx's concepts into a different space. In Bourdieu, the terminology of 'capital' and its 'reproduction', construed as a class relationship, clearly articulates a claim to impart a new meaning to the words. Bourdieu not only draws on important research in the sociology of work and specifically on 'domination in labour', imperative for the programme of 'historical materialism', but demonstrates that he can contribute towards a better understanding of the relationship between sociology and economics. For historical materialism, the 'productive forces' comprise both technical knowledge, as the art of arranging mechanisms in nature, and social know-how, cooperative knowledge.

Keywords: Bourdieu; historical materialism; Marx; sociology



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