Bourdieu and Sociological Biography: The Case of Vincent van Gogh’s Choice of Profession

Will J Atkinson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
97 Downloads (Pure)


Pierre Bourdieu’s conceptual framework offers a productive means of making sense of statistical regularities and correspondences. When it comes to explaining the intricacies of individual biographies, however, including something as seemingly personal as one’s choice of occupation, Bourdieu offers only a starting point in need of elaboration. Above all, there is a need to pay greater attention to the multiplicity of fields in which individuals are situated and the interplay between them in shaping desires and strategies. These include class, family relations and, in some cases, employment-based fields such as art, religion or specific organisations. To demonstrate the argument, this paper takes as a case study the trajectory of Vincent van Gogh, highlighting the ongoing interaction between class, family and other fields in generating his eventual decision to become an artist.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)967 - 982
Number of pages16
Issue number5
Early online date8 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 17 Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • art
  • Bourdieu
  • fields
  • sociological biography
  • Vincent van Gogh


Dive into the research topics of 'Bourdieu and Sociological Biography: The Case of Vincent van Gogh’s Choice of Profession'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this