While there were many differences between Ernest Gellner and Pierre Bourdieu, they also had much in common. One has only to look at recent social science research by specialists on the Maghrib to realise how influential these two thinkers have been over the last forty years. However, this paper does not set out to provide an appraisal of their respective contributions to our knowledge of the Maghrib. The writings of Gellner and Boudieu had such an impact on their contemporaries in part because of the audacity of their hypotheses, and the extent to which their writings constituted a series of challenges to those who were, or still are, inclined to view the social and political realities of North Africa in a different way. This paper argues that it is time to take up one or two of these challenges, in part because the negative aspect of the influence of these two great sociologists is now being felt in the political history of contemporary Algeria.
Roberts, H. Working Paper No.19. From Segmentarity to Opacity: on Gellner and Bourdieu, or why Algerian politics have eluded theoretical analysis and vice versa. (2002) 24 pp.