Reflexivity, Scientificity and the Sociology of Religion: Pierre Bourdieu in Debate

Matthew Wood, Veronique Altglas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores the relevance of Pierre Bourdieu’s ‘epistemic reflexivity’ for the sociology of religion, in particular by examining his neglected address to the French Association for the Sociology of Religion in 1982. Whilst sociologists of religion have addressed some issues of reflexivity in their practice, less attention has been paid to the crucial scientific requirement, highlighted by Bourdieu, to break from the ‘illusio’ of that field and thus avoid alignments with positions taken by religious actors themselves. As a result, many sociologists inevitably participate in religious contestations and stakes, whether or not they affirm or deny their own religious identification with those they study. Although Bourdieu’s address was a response to a particular national and historical form of the sociology of religion, we argue that it retains much significance today and may lead to fruitful debate within the discipline.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-26
Number of pages18
JournalNordic Journal of Religion and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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