Pierre Bourdieu and elites: Making the hidden visible

Mairi Maclean, Charles Harvey

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One of Pierre Bourdieu’s great skills and gifts to organizational researchers is his ability to reveal and make manifest the hidden mechanisms of social stratification that often remain invisible in organizational and social life. In this chapter, we explore Bourdieu’s contribution to the study of elites, power and domination. We apply his ideas and concepts illustratively to four specific areas of research: class domination and cultural reproduction in big business; the importance of reflexivity for social mobility; the transactional nature and legitimizing function of entrepreneurial philanthropy and the discerning processes of taste formation, indicative of underlying status distinctions, serving as another means of exercising power. The conceptual arsenal provided by Bourdieu is far from exhausted by management and organization studies. We need it most of all to continue exploring the activities of elites in the global field of power as, largely unobserved, they tighten their stranglehold on global wealth and resources.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationManagement, Organizations and Contemporary Social Theory
EditorsStewart R. Clegg, Miguel Pina e Cunha
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9780429279591
ISBN (Print)9780367233778, 9780815365846
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2019


  • Bourdieu, domination, elites, inequality, power, social mobility


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