This is about: “Rethinking the State: Genesis and Structure of Bureaucracy.” [link] Pierre Bourdieu has not known what he was talking about as long as I have been an adult. He is equal to himself; he still does not. His talent – that he shares with many French intellectuals – is to persuade others to pretend that they do understand. Don’t take my word for it. Read the opening sentence of the current piece and ask yourself honestly what it means. And no, don’t blame the translation. I have not read this piece in the original French but I have read many opening statements in French by Bourdieu and, they are worse. (I am competent to read French including “sociologie.” ) In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the translators had actually improved the first sentence in this particular piece. Another thing about contemporary French social scientists (but not historians) is that it’s seldom quite clear what the relationship is – if any – between their narrative and facts on the ground. Don’t get me started!