Name of student: School: Course: Topic: Lecturer: Date presented: Introduction Sociologists study the behaviour of human beings in the society to find out why they behave the way they do and how they relate to their environment. Of interest to sociologists is study of social laws (structure) and individual minds (agency) in which these laws are inscribed…
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Notable sociologists include Karl Marx, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, Anthony Giddens, Merleau-Ponty and Wittgenstein, among others, but our focus for this paper is to evaluate Pierre Bourdieu’s theory in relation to an everyday situation. Case Study Have you ever wondered why you behave the way you do or why you do the things you do? For example, why would one want to visit a fancy restaurant and spend a lot of money when there are a lot more restaurants which charge less for the same type of food? Furthermore, these expensive restaurants offer small servings of food whereas the ordinary restaurants serve large quantity of food at a cheap price. Why do we order different kinds of food in restaurants? Common sense would tell us that the more money you earn, the more you would be inclined to visit fancy restaurants. Those working class individuals with low income are likely to be found at a cheap restaurant so as to save for other necessities of life while the ruling class visits very fancy restaurants as they have more to spend. But is this the case? Are there other reasons why different people visit different kinds of restaurants? Some factors in the environment would also affect the consumption behaviour of individuals. If one is working in an industrial area, it is likely that the restaurants around are cheap for common people. Others go to a restaurant because it is near the working place instead of commuting far, and time is of essence. Still others go to various restaurants because they are accustomed to since childhood, that is, they learnt the behaviour from parents. This is the everyday situation people live in, but Pierre Bourdieu gives us an insight into why people go to certain restaurants and order certain foods. Pierre Bourdieu’s Social Theory Bourdieu was born in 1930 in France. He was a son of a peasant community but in 1955 he was conscripted into the French army to fight in the Algerian War of Independence (Lane, 2000). Before he left France, he was a philosopher but when he came back in 1960, he had transformed into a sociologist after being influenced by people such as Merleau-Ponty and Louis Althusser. His work was inclined into the Marxist thought though his views diverged a little. To him education and cultural tastes were central to understanding the difference between social classes and reproduction of social class difference (Appelrouth, 2008 p. 684). One of his most notable works that have influenced sociology is Distinctions: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste (Bourdieu, 1984), which focuses on the theory of distinction and emphasises the role of practice and embodiment in worldview construction. His work was influenced by ideas of Max Weber, Karl Marx, Durkheim, and Merleau-Ponty. His theory focuses on consumption, social status and habitus. Just like Giddens, he emphasises social reproduction and a routine structure of behaviour. However, behaviour in this case is the result of cultural codes which the individual or agent is unaware of (Bourdieu, 1990). He uses various concepts in explaining his theory which will be discussed later, such as fields, habitus, cultural, social and symbolic capital, reflexivity and symbolic
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