From Sociology to Socioanalysis: Rethinking Bourdieu’s Concepts of Habitus, Symbolic Capital, and Field along Psychoanalytic Lines

  • George Steinmetz
Part of the Studies in the Psychosocial book series (STIP)


According to Vincent de Gaulejac, a French sociologist and clinician, “Far from being hostile to psychoanalysis [Bourdieu] reckoned that there was no fundamental difference between his conception of the unconscious and Freud’s.” (de Gaulejac, 2004, p. 83). Indeed, prior to Bourdieu, European sociology engaged intensively with psychoanalysis for almost a century, starting with Kolnai’s Psychoanalyse und Soziologie (1921), through to the mid-century writings of Fromm (1989), Bastide (1950), Ginsburg (1947), Elias,1 and Adorno, and continuing to the present (Maître, 1994, 2000; de Gauljac, 1987, 1996; Elliott, 2004). French academic and intellectual culture has been especially open to psychoanalysis in the postwar period, due in no small part to the efforts of Jacques Lacan and the Lacanian school (Roudinesco, 1990). A Middletown-style study of a small city in the Paris suburbs sponsored by UNESCO in 1949 included a number of psychoanalytic hypotheses and methods and was designed and carried out by a group of sociologists and psychoanalysts (Dampierre, 1956). French academic bookstores specializing in “les sciences humaines” usually carry a large section on contemporary psychoanalytic theory and it is often located right next to sociology.


Cultural Capital Symbolic Capital Psychoanalytic Theory Social Field Symbolic Order 
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© George Steinmetz 2014

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  • George Steinmetz

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