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From Le savant et le politique (Weber, int. Aron, 1959) to Le savant et le populaire (Grignon & Passeron, 1989) from an English perspective

Author(s): Derek Robbins

Journal: Theoria and Praxis : International Journal of Interdisciplinary Thought
ISSN 2291-1286

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: The Political | Weber | Aron | Bourdieu | Passeron | Hoggart

Aron published as Le savant et le politique (1959) [the scientist and the politician] a long introduction to the first French translations of Weber’s two lectures of 1918 – Wissenschaft als Beruf [Science as vocation] and Politik als Beruf [Politics as vocation]. This article comments on Aron’s introduction. It then looks at the divergent responses to Aron’s work of Jean-Claude Passeron and Pierre Bourdieu, both of whom were ‘mentored’ by Aron. Bourdieu and Passeron developed a sociology of education and culture in the 1960s. Passeron retained the Weberian distinction whereas Bourdieu saw social research as an instrument for political action. I comment on the political implications of the comparable development of Cultural Studies in England in the 1960s and 70s, and I come back to France to consider Passeron’s introduction to the translation of Hoggart’s The Uses of Literacy (1959) as La culture du pauvre (1970). I focus next on the situation in 1979 at the year of the publication of Bourdieu’s La distinction and Lyotard’s La condition postmoderne, before discussing Le savant et le populaire [the scientist and the ordinary person] (Grignon & Passeron, 1989) and trying to draw out some conclusions which relate sociology to popular culture and populist politics.
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