The social space and misrecognition in 21st century France

Will Atkinson*

*Corresponding author for this work

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

1 Citation (Scopus)
85 Downloads (Pure)


This article seeks to revisit the French social space 30 years after Pierre Bourdieu first mapped it in Distinction. Using data from the International Social Survey Programme, it deploys geometric data analysis to construct a model of the space of class positions that is remarkably similar in its structure to that presented by Bourdieu despite three decades of economic transformation. The relationship with occupational groups and geographical space is also familiar, though gender and, to a greater extent, age are perhaps more prominent than when Bourdieu was writing. The article then goes on to demonstrate the multidimensional nature of symbolic violence, in the form of perception of one’s place, and the manner in which social reproduction is misrecognised. On the latter point, it transpires that while there is recognition of unfair advantage, not only is faith in meritocracy the prevailing view but the dominated are the most likely to deny that having educated parents makes a difference to whether one ‘gets ahead’ or not.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)990-1012
Number of pages23
JournalThe Sociological Review
Issue number5
Early online date26 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research on which this article is based was funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant agreement No. 677055).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • Bourdieu
  • France
  • misrecognition
  • social space
  • symbolic violence


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