Bourdieu 1993: An Example of Scholarly Consecration

Drawing on archival materials and personal testimonies, I reconstruct the conditions under which Bourdieu came to receive the Gold medal of the National Center for Scientific Research, France’s highest science prize, in 1993 as a signal case study of the existential predicament and institutional trappings of scholarly consecration. Bourdieu’s award speech and the ceremony at which he read it present a triple interest for the history and sociology of sociology. They illustrate how a shaping figure in the discipline personally experienced, reflexively viewed, and practically navigated the nexus of science, authority, and power. They mark 1993 as a pivot-year in Bourdieu’s intellectual evolution, leading to a new agenda foregrounding the state as paramount symbolic power, the alchemy of group formation, and the unfinished promise of democratic politics; and they help explain why he ventured more forthrightly into civic debate in the 1990s. Bourdieu’s ambivalent acceptance of the prize also illustrates his conception of the “Realpolitik of reason” and put an emphatic end to the eclipse of Durkheim by restoring sociology to its rightful place at the scientific zenith in the country of its birth.

Released: Replika 79, 113–126.
Replika block:
Ágoston Fáber