International Journal of

Arts , Humanities & Social Science

ISSN 2693-2547 (Print) , ISSN 2693-2555 (Online)
From “period eye” to “schemes of perception”: Bourdieu’s implicit theory of perception



In the 1960’s, Pierre Bourdieu tries to develop a sociology of perception. At this time, he is then influenced by neo-kantian and analytic philosophers who claim that perception is not a pure given, but always implies conceptuality. He then claims for a symbolic definition of perception as an operation of “decoding”. In the 1990’s, however, influenced by Michael Baxandall’s theory of a “period eye”, Bourdieu turns to a non-symbolic definition of perception, based on the concept of “schemes of perception”. This article tries to underline both the interests and the limits of this concept. We finally claim for a four-dimensional theory of perception {categorization – attention – sensorimotor anticipations – sense of reality}, compatible with both Bourdieu’s intuitions and contemporary psychological data.