The American Journal of Semiotics

Volume 22, Issue 1/4, 2006

Isaac E. Catt
Pages 31-54

Pierre Bourdieu’s Semiotic Legacy
A Theory of Communicative Agency

Against the many critics who have argued that Pierre Bourdieu favored a deterministic view of human experience and conduct, I argue that his social praxeology is, indeed, a theory of agency. I describe his work as a semiotic phenomenology of habitual discourse. My analysis extends this thinking, converging Bourdieu, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and C. S. Peirce on field, habitus and body. A theory of agency emerges that is a unique interpretation of the process of semiosis and embodied event of communication. My central theme is a critique of the concept of clarity in discourse.