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Language of the GunYouth, Crime, and Public Policy$
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Bernard E. Harcourt

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780226316086

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226316079.001.0001

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Bourdieu and Practice Theory

Bourdieu and Practice Theory

From the Kabyle House to the Street Corner

(p.145) 9 Bourdieu and Practice Theory
Language of the Gun
University of Chicago Press

This chapter focuses on practice theory and on the writings of Pierre Bourdieu, who self-consciously intervened in an effort to overcome the debate between Sartre and Lévi-Strauss: How does structure relate to individual decision making? In the case of the Catalina interviews (interviews of young males at the Catalina Mountain School in Tucson, Arizona), how are the registers of gun talk connected to the practice of carrying guns? Do they help us understand why the Catalina youths possess guns, and can they help us predict which youths carry? Do the registers influence practice so as to perpetuate or undermine the language itself? Do the structures change over time? And what would account for the change? In sum, how do the registers of gun talk relate to the individual decisions to carry guns? Pierre Bourdieu specifically addressed these questions, and the approach he helped develop—known as “practice theory”—represents the perfect illustration of a third methodological approach to social science.

Keywords:   Pierre Bourdieu, practice theory, individual decision making, gun carrying, Catalina youths, methodological approach, social science

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