Bourdieu, Religion and Pluralistic Societies


  • Lene Kühle Aarhus University



Pierre Bourdieu, Religious Fields, Pluralism


It is widely recognised that the theory of practise of French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu may provide insights for the study of religion due to its general importance for social sciences and humanities in general. When it comes to Bourdieu's specific work on religion and in particular his concept of the religious field, scholars have been less enthusiastic in particular in relation to religion in complex societies. This article argues however that Bourdieu's work on the religious field may have been rejected prematurely, and that it may provide a frutile point of departure for studies of religion in pluralistic societies.

Author Biography

Lene Kühle, Aarhus University

Lene Kühle, PhD, is Associate Professor in the Department for the Study of Religion, Aarhus University, Denmark.


Berlinerblau, Jacques. 2001. “Towards a Sociology of Heresy, Orthodoxy, and Doxa.” History of Religions 40:327–51.

Bourdieu, Pierre. 1971. “Genèse et structure du champ religieux.” Revue Française de Sociologie 12:295–334.

———. 1987a. “La dissolution du religieux.”.In Choses dites., 117-–23. Paris: Editions du Minuit.

———. 1987b. “Legitimation and Structured Interests in Weber’s Sociology of Religion.” In Max Weber, Rationality and Modernity, edited by Scot Lash and Sam Whimster, 119-136. London: Allen & Unwin.

———. 1991. “Genesis and Structure of the Religious Field.” Comparative Social Research 13:1–44.

———. 1997. “The Forms of Capital.” In Education: Culture, Economy, Society., edited by A. H. Halsey, Hugh Lauder, Phillip Brown, and Amy Stuart Wells, 46-58. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

———. 1998. Practical Reason: On the Theory of Action. Translated by Randal Johnson. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Bourdieu, Pierre, and Monique de Saint Martin. 1982. “La sainte famille. L'épiscopat français dans la champ du pouvoir. Actes de la Recherche en Sciences Sociales 44:2–53.

Bourdieu, Pierre, and Loïc J. D. Wacquant. 1992. An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Callewaert, Staf. 1998. Bourdieu-studier II (Bourdieu studies II). Københavns Universitet Amager: Institut for Filosofi, Pædagogik og Retorik.

Dianteill, Erwan. 2003. “Pierre Bourdieu and the Sociology of Religion: A Central and Peripheral Concern.” Theory and Society 32:529–49.

Dillon, Michelle. 2001. “Pierre Bourdieu, Religion, and Cultural Production.” Cultural Studies Critical Methodologies 1:411–29

Jelen, Ted, ed. 2002. Sacred Markets, Sacred Canopies: Essays on Religious Markets and Religious Pluralism. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

Jensen, Tina Gudrun. 2006. “ Religious Authority and Autonomy Intertwined: The Case of Converts to Islam in Denmark.” The Muslim World 96:643- 660.

Kühle, Lene. 2004. “Out of Many, One: A Theoretical and Empirical Study of Religious Pluralism in Denmark From a Perspective Of Power”. PhD diss. University of Aarhus.

Østergaard, Kate. 2004. “Muslim Women in the Islamic Field in Denmark: Interaction between Converts and Other Muslim women.” Nordic Journal of Religion and Society 17:29–46.

Peter, Frank. 2006. “Leading the Community of the Middle Way: A Study of the Muslim Field in France.” The Muslim World 96:643–60.

Robertson, Roland. 1992. “The Economization of Religion? Reflections on the Promise and Limitations of the Economic Approach.” Social Compass 39:147–157.

Rey, Terry. 2007. Bourdieu on Religion. Imposing Faith and Legitimacy. London: Equinox.

Swartz, David. 1997. Culture & Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Turner, Bryan. 2010. “Islam, Public Religions and the Secularization Debate.“ In Muslims in Global Societies: Muslim Societies and the Challenge of Secularization: An Interdisciplinary Approach, edited by Gabriele Marranci. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer.

Urban, Hugh. B. 2003. “Sacred Capital: Pierre Bourdieu and the Study of Religion.”Method & Theory in the Study of Religion 15:354–89.

Verter, Bradford. 2003. “Spiritual Capital: Theorizing Religion with Bourdieu against Bourdieu.“ Sociological Theory 21:150–174.

Wacquant, Loïc. J. D. 1989. “Towards a Reflexive Sociology: A Workshop with Pierre Bourdieu.” Sociological Theory 7:26–63.

Wood, Matthieu, and Christopher Bunn. 2009. “Strategy in a Religious Network: A Bourdieuian Critique of the Sociology of Spirituality.” Sociology 43:286-303.



How to Cite

Kühle, L. (2012). Bourdieu, Religion and Pluralistic Societies. Bulletin for the Study of Religion, 41(1), 8-14.