Toward a critical social ontology: A study on Pierre Bourdieu and Axel Honneth

Research output: Book/ReportDoctoral thesisMonograph


This doctoral dissertation has three main aims.

First, it tries to reconstruct and compare Axel Honneth’s and Pierre Bourdieu’s critical thought along three thematic vectors: the problem of social reproduction and stabilization, the problem of social conflict and transformation, and the issue of the origin and actualization of social agency. The purpose of the first four chapters of this work is to highlight that, despite the meaningful differences, the ideas of the two authors concerning the three aforementioned topics tend to converge, overlap, and complete each other.

Second, the thesis seeks to reinterpret Bourdieusian concepts of ‘symbolic capital’, ‘field’, and ‘habitus’ through the lens of the paradigm of recognition developed by Honneth. In this regard, chapters 5, 6, and 7 can be seen as a philosophical attempt to illustrate that recognition is also a matter of power. As such, recognition can also be interpreted through the lens and vocabulary of the relations and structures of power. Similarly, it could be said that the same chapters constitute an effort to illustrate in which way human agency is mediated by structures that are constitutively susceptible to intersubjective forms of recognition and their development.

Third, the definitions of ‘domination’ and ‘emancipation’ which are illustrated in the final chapter strive to embody and express such an intuition, whose corollary is the following: domination cannot be considered coextensive to power and that emancipation does not entail the disappearance of relations of power among individuals or groups, or between individuals and groups.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationVantaa
PublisherTampereen yliopisto
ISBN (Electronic)978-952-03-1658-7
ISBN (Print)978-952-03-1657-0
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)

Publication series

NameTampere University Dissertations - Tampereen yliopiston väitöskirjat
ISSN (Print)2489-9860
ISSN (Electronic)2490-0028


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