Pierre Bourdieu, Religion, and Cultural Production

Academic Article


  • Recent years have seen increased emphasis on the autonomy of human agency in creating meaning in everyday life. The institutional bias in sociology, however, and its concomitant emphasis on social reproduction rather than change favors hierarchical approaches to cultural production. This is apparent in the theorizing even of sociologists such as Pierre Bourdieu who emphasize the cultural dynamism of religion and other meaning systems. This article critiques the mechanistic underpinnings of Bourdieu’s perspective on religious production and his categorical differentiation between religious producers and consumers. Using data gathered from American Catholics, the author shows that interpretive autonomy allows them to recast the official discourse of the church hierarchy in ways that advance alternative interpretations. Interpretive autonomy is grounded in the Catholic tradition or habitus and is reflexively used by Catholics both to maintain the vibrancy of the church and expand the possibilities for institutional change.
  • Authors


    Publication Date

  • November 2001
  • Has Subject Area

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 411
  • End Page

  • 429
  • Volume

  • 1
  • Issue

  • 4