In a critical introduction to recent sociology in France, Lemert (1981) points out that Americans may be puzzled by French scholarship because they are unfamiliar with its social context. The themes and styles prevailing in French sociology are responsive to the configuration of the "field" (champ), a term that refers not just to a "field of knowledge." In French, champ also suggests a "force field" or space of action and a "battlefield" or place of struggle. Thus, the field of sociology in France is both a social and semantic space. As one of its major figures, Pierre Bourdieu has helped to define French sociology while also pushing at its limits. His project is at once ethnographic, political, critical, and epistemological and must therefore be read in several registers (103).
Stephen W. Foster was Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley