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In Algeria: Pierre Bourdieu's photographic fieldwork

2009-08-24 , Schultheis, Franz , Holder, Patricia , Wagner, Constantin

oday Pierre Bourdieu is well known as one of the most important social scientists of the 20th century. One of the outstanding qualities of his work has been his innovative combination of different methods and research strategies as well as his analytical skills in interpreting the obtained data (his ‘sociological gaze'). In this paper, we attempt to retrace the development of an extraordinary way of doing social research and show the benefit of Bourdieu's visual sociology for his empirical fieldwork and sociological theory. The article particularly stresses the significance of his photographic archive, which has long been ignored within the appreciation of Bourdieu's work. Studying Bourdieu's photography gives access to his œuvre in several new ways: not only can we understand how Bourdieu became an unconventional sociologist practicing his craft in the midst of a colonial war. Bourdieu's visual anthropology also offers an insight into the status nascendi of Bourdieu's sociology in all its elementary forms and contents. Through his photography Boudieu demonstrated the concepts of ‘habitat and habitus', the material and symbolic living conditions of the Algerian population.