Religion and Social Class: Theory and Method After Bourdieu

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This article outlines two inter-related but distinct theoretical approaches to the study of Christianity and Social Class developed from the work of Pierre Bourdieu. The first is a model derived from Distinction ([1979] 1984), the second comes from Bourdieu’s work on religious fields with a focus on the conversion of capital between different fields. The former, better known, approach has the potential to provide important insights, including identifying the affinity of different religious groups with different class locations; on the other hand, this would tell us little about the internal workings of religious communities; it is also unfortunately hampered by a lack of suitable data. The conception of fields and their inter-relations will not answer the questions about the affinity of particular class fragments for particular kinds of religiosity, but it does provide much keener insight into the operation of class within religious communities, by examining the conversion of different types of capital into religious capital. This is illustrated with an extended Bourdieusian hypothesis, a schematic outline that could be used as the starting point for empirical research on the operation of different kinds of capital in the Church of England.
Original languageEnglish
Article number15
JournalSociological Research Online
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2017


  • religion
  • class
  • Bourdieu
  • Cultural Capital
  • field
  • habitus
  • Christianity
  • Anglican
  • Church of England
  • bishops


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