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Towards a Critical Sociology of Dominant Ideologies: An Unexpected Reunion between Pierre Bourdieu and Luc Boltanski

Susen, S. (2016). Towards a Critical Sociology of Dominant Ideologies: An Unexpected Reunion between Pierre Bourdieu and Luc Boltanski. Cultural Sociology, 10(2), pp. 195-246. doi: 10.1177/1749975515593098


This article aims to demonstrate the enduring relevance of Pierre Bourdieu and Luc Boltanski’s ‘La production de l’idéologie dominante’ [‘The production of the dominant ideology’], which was originally published in Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales in 1976. More than three decades later, in 2008, a re-edited version of this study was printed in book format as La production de l’idéologie dominante, which was accompanied by a detailed commentary, written by Luc Boltanski and entitled Rendre la réalité inacceptable. À propos de « La production de l’idéologie dominante » [Making Reality Unacceptable. Comments on ‘The production of the dominant ideology’]. In addition to containing revealing personal anecdotes and providing important sociological insights, this commentary offers an insider account of the genesis of one of the most seminal pieces Boltanski co-wrote with his intellectual father, Bourdieu. In the Anglophone literature on contemporary French sociology, however, the theoretical contributions made both in the original study and in Boltanski’s commentary have received little – if any – serious attention. This article aims to fill this gap in the literature, arguing that these two texts can be regarded not only as forceful reminders of the fact that the ‘dominant ideology thesis’ is far from obsolete but also as essential for understanding both the personal and the intellectual underpinnings of the tension-laden relationship between Bourdieu and Boltanski. Furthermore, this article offers a critical overview of the extent to which the unexpected, and partly posthumous, reunion between ‘the master’ (Bourdieu) and his ‘dissident disciple’ (Boltanski) equips us with powerful conceptual tools, which, whilst illustrating the continuing centrality of ‘ideology critique’, permit us to shed new light on key concerns in contemporary sociology and social theory. Finally, the article seeks to push the debate forward by reflecting upon several issues that are not given sufficient attention by Bourdieu and Boltanski in their otherwise original and insightful enquiry into the complexities characterizing the daily production of ideology.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright Sage 2015
Publisher Keywords: Boltanski, Bourdieu, Bourdieusian, capitalism, class, constructivism, constructivist, critical sociology, critique, dominant ideology, domination, emancipatory, hegemonic, ideology, ideology critique, neo-liberal, neo-liberalism, neo-managerial, neo-managerialism, power, reflexive, relationalist, science, scientific, social theory
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of 30bbb. CRO %28Accepted Version%29 Simon Susen %282016%29 ‘Towards a Crit Soc of Dominant Ideologies. Unexpected Reunion betw PB %26 LB’.pdf]
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