the-practice-turn-in-contemporary-theoryIt is through action and interaction within practices that mind, rationality and knowledge are constituted and social life is organized, reproduced and transformed. During the past two decades, practice theory has emerged as a potent challenger to prevalent ways of thinking about human life and sociality, which have until now focused either on individual minds and actions or social structures, systems and discourses. The Practice Turn in Contemporary Theory is the first volume to bring together philosophers, sociologists and scholars of science to explore the significance of practices in human life.

The essays focus on three overall themes: the character and establishment of social order, the psychological basis of human activity and contemporary posthumanist challenges. Philosophers such as Wittgenstein and Heidegger who have been influential in the shaping of practice theory are also discussed. In examining these themes and thinkers the essays document how practice theory stands opposed to prominent modes of thought such as individualism, intellectualism, structuralism, systems theory, and many strains of humanism and poststructuralism.

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Bourdieu was a lighthouse for me in the storm of postmodern posturing in the university days. David does a good job here of trying to square Bourdieu’s formidable circle.

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Recollecting Philosophy

Some would perhaps call Pierre Bourdieu more of an anti-philosopher than a philosopher. I want to claim that Bourdieu was a philosopher, and stress Bourdieu’s role within philosophy. It is true that Bourdieu strongly criticized academic philosophy, but Bourdieu also associated himself with and found inspiration from canonized philosophers of both older and newer times, such as Pascal, Leibniz, Wittgenstein, Heidegger and Foucault. And as pointed out by Staf Callewaert, “Bourdieu insists he has nothing against philosophy as a discipline”. I think, that instead of being regarded as an outsider and enemy of philosophy, Bourdieu could be regarded as an insider, as a bridge-builder between different branches of philosophy, and as someone who can help bring philosophy to a better reputation.

Selected quotes and commentary of Pierre Bourdieu

Bourdieu and (academical) philosophy
Bourdieu on language
Bourdieu on self-reflexivity
Bourdieu on contextual orientation
Presentation of some of Bourdieu’s key concepts


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