On what grounds should Bourdieu be dismissed? Compare the contradictory reactions of famed Althusserian marxist Nicos Poulantzas and cultural sociology honcho Jeffrey Alexander to Bourdieu’s position:
First, we can note the judgment of Poulantzas, who in the course of a discussion of the class position of managers, associates Bourdieu with a perspective similar to that of Miliband and Mills. The concept of cultural capital, it is asserted, merely captures the status unity of various elite sub-groups, and the language of classes and class fractions amounts to nothing more than an empty “Marxism oblige,” resulting in a sociology derisible for its “impenitent Weberianism” (Poulantzas, 1975, pp. 177—178). To this we can contrast the evaluation recently offered by Alexander, in which Bourdieu is said to incorporate Weberian premises only via a highly distorted interpretation, one that recalls “sympathetjc’ Marxist” and polemical “neo-Marxist” readings. Here the explanatory intentions which animate Bourdieu’s sociology can only give rise to “crudely” and “strikingly reductionist” accounts of this or that object. Moreover, the vocabulary of class fractions is enough to confer on it a “Poulantzian” tendency (Alexander, 1995, pp. 160—178).
-Elliot B. Weininger, “Class and causation in Bourdieu”, pp.49-50
C. Wright Mills’ assessment of the importance of Marx for sociology as of 1962, but I think it still holds up fairly well
“The social scientists study the details of small scale milieus; Marx studied such details too, but always within the structure of a total society. The social scientists, knowing littie history, study at most short-run trends; Marx, using historical materials with superb mastery, takes as his unit of study entire epochs. The values of the social scientists generally lead them to accept their society pretty much as it is; the values of Marx lead him to condemn his society—root, stock and branch. The social scientists see society’s problems as matters only of “disorganization”; Marx sees problems as inherent contradictions in the existing structure. The social scientists see their society as continuing in an evolutionary way without qualitative breaks in its structure; Marx sees in the future of this society a qualitative break: a new form of society—in fact a new epoch—is going to come about by means of revolution.
However, there is today no “marxist social science” of any intellectual consequence. There is just—social science: without the work of Marx and other marxists, it would not be what it is today; with their work alone, it would not be nearly as good as it happens to be. No one who does not come to grips with the ideas of marxism can be an adequate social scientist; no one who believes that marxism contains the last word can be one either. Is there any doubt about this after Max Weber, Thorstein Veblen, Karl Mannheim—to mention only three? We do now have ways—better than Marx’s alone—of studying and understanding man, society, and history, but the work of these three is quite unimaginable without his work.”
“When you want to escape from the world as it is, you can be a musician, or a philosopher, or mathematician. But how can you escape it as a sociologist? Some people manage to. You just have to write some mathematical formulae, go through a few game-theory exercises, a bit of computer simulation. To be able to see and describe the world as it is, you have to be ready to be always dealing with things that are complicated, confused, impure, uncertain, all of which runs counter to the usual idea of intellectual rigour”
Claude Lévi-Strauss’ beautiful dedication in his Structural Anthropology:
“May an inconstant disciple dedicate this book which appears in 1958, the year of Emile Durkheim’s centenary, to the memory of the founder of Anné Sociologique: that famed workshop where modern anthropology fashioned part of its tools and which we have abandoned, not so much out of disloyalty as out of the sad conviction that the task would prove too much for us.”
"‘What passes for social reality’ stands in immediate relation to the distribution of power - not only on the most mundane levels of everyday interaction, but also on the level of global cultures and ideologies, whose influence indeed may be felt in every corner of everyday social life itself."
Anthony Giddens, New Rules of Sociological Method, 2nd ed (1993), p. 120
“This is a song written to the opening of the eMunch exhibtion at the Munch Museum in Oslo. The first verse and refrain is two poems written by Edvard Munch in Copenhagen 1907. All other lyrics is written by Shepherd inspired by Munchs writing from this period. This is the world’s first official Munch rap!”