Bourdieu's use of the term interest is a good example of the way a particular concept arose and developed over the course of his professional career. In this chapter we see the way it almost haunts his early work. Subsequently, it emerges as a key feature in his empirical analyses. Later, it is expressed as a fully fledged concept and joins his other “thinking tools” as a major instrument of analysis. Later still, the concept evolves into different forms; Bourdieu renamed it as illusio or libido. Finally, the implications and ramifications of “interest” are considered theoretically, which leads to a philosophical exploration of its significance. The concept itself is present in the relationships which Bourdieu investigates in his early studies. In this way, we see how practice serves theory for Bourdieu. It is named and then its theoretical significance elaborated. This chapter shows this process at work.
An interest in practice
In earlier parts of this book, we referred to the background to Bourdieu's intellectual worldview as well as to the climate that surrounded him as he set out on his academic career, and juxtaposed this with the strong personal experiences he had at this time in Algeria and the Béarn. Attention was drawn to predominant intellectual trends in France; most noticeably, existentialism and structuralism.