As noted in the introduction to this book, it is rather unusual to deal with Bourdieu's concepts as discrete entities. Nevertheless, in doing so, each chapter has enabled an in-depth consideration of each term from a theoretical and practical perspective. It is has been stressed on various occasions how Bourdieu's “theory of practice” is essentially a “theory of research practice”. His key concepts only make sense, therefore, when applied to practical research and the whole raison d'être of the approach is that they should be used in new projects. This chapter considers the relationship between the concepts and empirical research, and then draws out methodological principles at three levels: the construction of the research object; three-level field analysis; and participant objectivation. There is a “moral” commitment at the heart of Bourdieu's philosophy that demands a certain vigilance concerning the act of researching and being a researcher, which itself involves a socio-political engagement. What is the nature of this vigilance and engagement? This chapter also attempts to answer this question.
The language of concepts: the symbolic and the actual
Bourdieu often distinguishes between a theorist's and a researcher's respective viewpoints: a theorist is interested in developing hypotheses to account for the particularities and functioning of an object of study, whereas a researcher collects empirical data and analyses it in order to obtain a picture of how the “real world” is constituted.