Testing the Universalism of Bourdieu’s Homology Thesis: A Challenge for Comparative Analysis.

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 11:00
Oral Presentation
Yannick LEMEL, GEMASS, University Paris4-Sorbonne, France, CREST, ENSAE, France
Dominique JOYE, Lausanne University, Switzerland
The so-called homology thesis contends that a strong relationship exists between social position and cultural practices. This idea is at the centre of Pierre Bourdieu’s work La Distinction (1984) and all of the studies in the sociology of culture that follow this seminal opus. Bourdieu wondered whether his analysis of French society could be generalized to other cases such as the United states, Germany or even other countries as distant as Japan (Bourdieu, 1991). However, he never attempted to do such analysis. Moreover, the bulk of contributions within the context of the sociology of culture have focused on particular national cases, usually within Western Countries. The availability of the ISSP Leisure and Sport module (2007) offers a unique opportunity to assess the bourdieusian thesis in a context of more than twenty countries from all around the world.

The challenge that we will face is to find a methodology that respects as well a comparative perspective and the constraints of the homology perspective. In this context, a canonical analysis of ordinal variables in the frame proposed by the Gifi group appears very appropriate. This baseline methodology will be compared with other possibilities. In particular, the analysis of the measurement level in the context of this ISSP module is a way to think about the question of comparability in international surveys more generally by looking at the question of scaling and equivalence of response categories in international or intercultural surveys


Bourdieu, P. (1984[1979]), Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taster. London: Routledge & Keagan Paul.

Bourdieu, P. (1991), “First Lecture. Social Space and Symbolic Space: Introduction to a Japanese Reading of Distinction”, Poetics Today, 12: 627-638.

Gifi, A. (1990), Nonlinear Multivariate Analysis, London, Wiley