Outline of a Theory of Practice

by Pierre Bourdieu

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

The book "Outline of a Theory of Practice" is a research examination of Practice Theory from the author's time studying in Algeria. Since it is not a novel with a story, it does not have characters per se.

The book outlines his experiences and the understanding he has gained by studying ethnography and sociology. Instead of discussing characters and events, he goes through the principles he has found to be true in practice theory.

He does however, make reference to certain other sociologists, either to corroborate or disagree with their findings.

He mentions Durkheim, who is considered one of the founding members of sociological practice. His work primarily covers integrity and connectivity in modern society, and how technology and rapid societal change would affect social bonds and structure.

He also discusses Levi-Strauss, who had some differing views about the principle of reciprocity. In the text, he lends support to Levi-Strauss as they both believe that reciprocity is more ingrained than learned. Levi-Strauss championed the idea that reciprocity is a fundamental mechanism, and that there are unconscious desires to give in return after having received something.

Bourdieu also brings up philosophers like Descartes and Jean Wahl and Jean-Paul Sartre, but once again, these are not characters, they are other philosophers against whom he tests his opinions and theories.

Throughout the book, there are sections where "storylines" do take place, but they are hypothetical in nature—such as a discussion about the role of men in society, or another scenario in which a hypothetical parallel-cousin marriage is proposed and a separate party feels a right to that union. These are not characters, however, they are hypothetical discussions to explore the real-world consequences of some of these sociological viewpoints Bourdieu has formulated.

Once again, as this book is not a novel or story, it doesn't have true "characters", but it is a very interesting book with clear social implications.

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