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Elaborating Bourdieu's field analysis in urban studies: a cultural map of Brussels

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Publication details

DatePublished - 1 May 2012
Issue number4
Number of pages21
Pages (from-to)508-529
Original languageEnglish


This study explores how elements of Pierre Bourdieu's field analysis can be deployed to revitalize urban analysis though an empirical study of cultural engagement in Brussels. The point of departure is the need to resist the view that Bourdieu, in quintessentially sociological terms, completely abstracts social from physical space. It is shown that although he acknowledges that the clustering of cultural taste in social space cannot be straightforwardly mapped onto urban location, he nonetheless recognizes a link between them. Using a detailed study of cultural orientations in Brussels, a fluid and spatially sensitive approach to cultural relations within cities is developed, one that shows how those evincing cultural privilege are more spatially localized than those who are culturally disengaged. This offers an important demonstration of the way that privilege remains relatively rooted in place, even amidst turbulent, globalized, urban conditions.

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