A Bourdieuian Reading of Sociology of Religion with Emphasis on Triple Concepts: Religious Field, Capital and Habitus

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Assistant Professor of Department of Social Sciences of Ilam University, Ilam, Iran

2 Associate Professor of Institute for Research and Planning in Higher Education, Tehran, Iran

3 Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Institute for Social and Cultural Studies, Ministry of Science, Research and Technology, Tehran, Iran



Religion is one of the oldest institutions of human beings that have the subject of study by various thinkers. The indeterminate nature of this concept (religion) has led to the plurality of its definitions and conceptualizations. The social aspect of the institution of religion has brought it the fore of sociologists' attention and Bourdieu is one of the sociologists who examined the evolution and development of religion through invention of concepts such as field, habitus, and capital. Bourdieu scatteredly has spoken about the sociology of religion in his articles and books. Accordingly, in this paper, it is attempted to present his ideas and notions on the sociological analysis of religion in a coherent and categorized way via documentary method. According to Bourdieu, market relations and rules dominate the field of religion. In this field, we see the roles of producer, supplier, consumer and salvation good. The actors in the field of religion struggle over obtaining religious capital and promote their status in the field of religion based on the amount of capital earned. The monopoly over the goods of salvation leads to the formation of a hierarchy system in the field of religion.


Ahmadi, Y. (2009). “The Status of Religion and Attitude to the Future of Religion Among Generations; Case Study of Sanandaj City”, Journal of Social cultural knowledge, 1, 17-44. (Persian).
Barker, M. (2008). “The role of religious capital in relating religion and economic development”, Retrieved from https: // www.researchgate. net/publication /235346894Sociology of Education.
Bashir, H. (2008). Interaction between religion and communication, Tehran: Institute for Cultural and Social Studies. (Persian).
Bonnewitz, P. (2012). “Premieres Lecons sar la sociologie de Pierre Bourdieu, (J. Jahangiri & H. Pour Safiri, Trans.), Tehran: Agah. (Persian).
Boudon, R. (2006). Dictionnaire critique de La soaologie, (A. Nick Gohar. Trans.), Tehran: Farhang_e Moaser. (Persian).
Bourdieu, P. & Claude Passeron, J. (1990). “Reproduction in Education Society and Culture” Retrieved from https: //en. wikipedia.org /wiki /Sexual_capital # cite_note -1.
Bourdieu, P. (1985). The Forms of Capital, Handbook of Theory of Research for the Albaugh, R. (2010). Analyzing the “Religious Capital” Approach to Religious Participation. Retrieved from http://nazarene.org/files/docs/albaugh ryan_paper. pdf.
Bourdieu, P. (1991a). “Genesis and structure of the religious field”, Comparative SocialResearch, vol 13, 1-44.
Bourdieu, P. (1991b). Language and symbolic power. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Bourdieu, P. (2011). “Raisons Pratiques: sar la theorie de Laction (M. Mardiha, Trans.), Tehran: Naghsh Negar. (Persian).
Bourdieu, P. (2012). Distinction: Asocial Critique of the judgement of taste, (H. chvoshian. Trans.), Tehran: Sales. (Persian).
Calhoun، C. Gerteis، J. Moody، J. Pfaff، S. & Virk، Indermohan. (Ed.). (2007). Contemporary Sociological Theory (2nd ed.). Blackwell Publishing.
Caputo, R. K. (2009). “Religious Capital and Intergenerational Transmission of Volunteering as Correlates of Civic Engagement”, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. 38(6). pp: 983-1002.
Champagne, P. (2014). Pierre Bourdieu, (N. Moaid Hekmat, Trans.), Tehran: Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies. (Persian).
Chauvire, C., Fontaine, O. (2006). Le Vocabulaire de Bourdieu, (M. Kotobi, Trans), Tehran: Ney. (Persian).
Cleman, C., Aldriege, A. (2011). Religion Before and Now, (M Gholipour, M. Abrahimi, Trans.), Tehran: Iran Azad. (Persian).
Crossly, N., Roberts, J.M. (2015). After Habermas: New Perspectives on The Public Sphere, (Moghadas. M. Trans.), Tehran: Allameh. (Persian).
Dianteill, E. (2003). “Pierre Bourdieu and the Sociology of Religion: A Central and Peripheral”, Source: Theory and Society, Vol. 32, No. 5/6, pp. 529-549.
Dillon, M. (2001). Pierre Bourdieu, Religion, and Cultural Production, Cultural Studies. 1, 411; 429-411.
Dillon، M. (2003). Handbook of the Sociology of Religion، Cambridge University Press.
Ezati, M., Nasir Khani, P., Hossaini, M. (2016). “The effect of religious capital on borrowing behavior”, Journal of Islamic Financial Research, 6, 1 (11). 5-32. (Persian).
Fakouhi, N. (2011). History of Anthropology Though and Theories, Tehran: Ney. (Persian).
Finke, R. (2003). Spiritual Capital: Definitions, Applications, and New Frontiers. Non-Published Paper. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University.
Grenfell, M. (2010). “Pierre Bourdieu: Key Concepts” (Labibi. M.M. Trans), Tehran: Afkar. (Persian).
Grusendorf, S. (2016). “Bourdieu’s Field, Capital, and Habitus in Religion”.  Journal for the Sociological Integration of Religion and Society Volume 6, No. 1. Spring. pp. 1-13.
Habib Pour Getabi, K., Babai Hemati, Z. (2014). “The Relationship between Religion and theatrical Consumption of Women in Tehran, Case Study of Area 5”, Journal of the Social and Cultural Council of Women and Family, 17, 65, 37-68. (Persian).
Iannaccone, L. R., & Klick, J. (2003). “Spiritual Capital: An Introduction and Literature Review, Preliminary draft”, prepared for the Spiritual Capital Planning Meeting, October 9-10.
Jamshidiha, G,. Parastesh, Sh. (2007). “The dialectic of habitus and field in Pierre Bourdieu's theory of action”, Journal of Social Science Letter, 30, 1-32. (Persian).
Jenkins, R. (2006). Pierre Bourdieu, (L. Jowafshni & H. Chavoshian. Trans.), Tehran: Ney. (Persian).
Kazem Aboudoh, Kh. (2014). “The concept of religious capital; a theoretical approach” National Social Journal, 51, 3. 139-145. (Persian).
Lechte, J. (2013). Fifty key Contemporary Thinkers from Structuralism to Postmodernity, (Hakimi. M. Trans), Tehran: Khojasteh. (Persian).
Mahdavi Kani, M. S. (2008). Religion and lifestyle, Tehran: Imam Sadegh University. (Persian).
Matthew, W., & Christopher, B. (2009). “Strategy in Religious Network”, Sociology, volume 1, Number 43.
McBride, M. (2015). “Why Churches Need Free-riders: Religious Capital Formation and Religious Group Survival”, Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, Volume 58, October, pp. 77–87.
McKinnon, A., Trzebiatowska, M & Craig Brittan, C. (2011). “Bourdieu, Capital, and Conflict in a Religious Field: The Case of the ‘Homosexuality’ Conflict in the Anglican Communion”, Journal of Contemporary Religion, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp. 335-370.
Mohadesi, H. (2002). Religion and social life, Tehran: Kavir. (Persian).
Mohadesi, H. (2002). Sociology of Religion, Iranian Narrative, Tehran: Yadawaran. (Persian).
Mosavi Faraz, S. M. (2016). “Classify and review definitions of religion”, Journal of Knowledge. 25, 225. 13-30. (Persian).
Nosrati, Sh., Zolfaghari, Abolfazl. (2012). “The Effect of Religiousness on Tehrani Youth Lifestyle”, Journal Social Research Quarterl. 4, 14. 101-117. (Persian).
O'Sullivan, M., and Bernadette. F. (2012). Spiritual Capital Spirituality in Practice in Christian Perspective.Farnham: Ashgate.
Palmer, D.A., & Wong, M. (2013). “Clarifying the Concept of Spiritual Capital. Prepared for the Conference on the Social Scientific Study of Religion”, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, 10-13 July.
Panahi, M., Omidi, M. (2012). “The Relationship between Socio-economic Status and Cultural Capital, Case Study of Tehran”, Journal of Social Sciences, Islamic Azad University, Shoushtar Branch, 6, 16, 33-66. (Persian).
Rahmani Firouzjah, A., Sohrabi, S. A. (2013). “The Sociology of Religion, with Bourdieu against Bourdieu”, Tehran: Publishing Iran, (Persian).
Rahmani Firouzjah, A., Sohrabi, S. B. (2013). Lifestyle and Religiosity, Tehran: Negah_e Bayene. (Persian).
Rey, T. (2004). “Marketing the goods of salvation: Bourdieu on religion”, Religion 34, pp. 331–343.
Ritzer, G. (1995). Contemporary Sociological Theory, Tehran: Elmi. (Persian).
Ritzer, G. (2005). “Encyclopedia of Social Theory”, Publications, Vol. 1, Sage -2, London.
Salehi Amiri, S. R. (2013). “Cultural concepts and theories” Tehran: Ghoghnos. (Persian).
Shateri, R. (2013). The Ethical Responsibility of Religious Governance, Tehran: Institute for Islamic Culture and Thought. (Persian).
Stones, R. (2013). Key Sociological Thinkers, (M. Mir Damadi, Trans.), Tehran: Markaz. (Persian).
Thompson, K & et al. (2016). Religion and social structure, (A. Bahram Pour & H. Mohadesi. Trans.), Tehran: Kavir. (Persian).
Verter, B. (2003). “Spiritual Capital: Theorizing Religion with Bourdieu against Bourdieu”, Sociological theory, Vol. 21, No, 2, pp. 150-164.
Zohar, D. (2010). “Exploring Spiritual Capital: An Interview with Danah Zohar”, Spirituality in Higher Education 5, no. 5, August.