The American Journal of Semiotics

Volume 22, Issue 1/4, 2006

Dean Hammer
Pages 87-108

Bourdieu, Ideology, and the Ancient World

In this essay, I look at the growing interest by classicists in the work of Pierre Bourdieu. My focus is on a less developed aspect of Bourdieu’s work; namely, ideology. Where Bourdieu’s project was, at least in part, to understand how ideas both generate and are generated in practice, his notion of ideology seems to be more an artifact of his earlier structural sympathies. My interest here is not to posit a wholly new conception of ideology, but to ask how one might use Bourdieu to clarify Bourdieu. The focus on the ancient world is instructive, not only because it draws on Bourdieu’s ongoing interest in pre-capitalist societies, but because it provides an historical and empirical stance by which we can critically engage Bourdieu’s conception of ideology beyond its specifically French — and contemporary — context.