Articles | Volume 69, issue 1
Geogr. Helv., 69, 7–18, 2014

Special issue: Bourdieu and development geography

Geogr. Helv., 69, 7–18, 2014

Standard article 03 Apr 2014

Standard article | 03 Apr 2014

Bourdieus Theorie der Praxis als alternative Perspektive für die „Geographische Entwicklungsforschung“

V. Deffner1 and C. Haferburg2 V. Deffner and C. Haferburg
  • 1Lehr- und Forschungsgebiet Kulturgeographie, RWTH Aachen University, Germany
  • 2Institut für Geographie, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany

Abstract. Within the academic field of Geography, there is an "identity crisis" facing German-language scholarship in Development Studies programs, particularly in terms of disciplinary characteristics, epistemological aims and methodological approaches. This critical self-reflection finds its expression in the use of terms like "mid-range theory" or "global south", and is manifest as well in repeated calls for a re-formulation of the discipline. Simultaneously, an increasing number of empirical studies in this field are informed by readings of Bourdieu, and are relying on praxeological and corresponding relational perspectives. These studies are transcending the prevalent actor-centered paradigms. Against such a background this paper not only shows how Bourdieu's suggestions can contribute to countering conceptual and discursive dichotomies, regionalized exoticism of cultural contexts and a normative bias (especially in applied research), but also indicates directions for a reformulation or alternative interpretation of the discipline. In order to address these issues, we focus on the key concept of relationality, which is epistemologically central to understanding the "social world"; academically central for a praxeological concept of global social research; and methodologically central in terms of self-reflexivity and a heuristic approach to social categories.