However, Bourdieu critically diverged from Durkheim in emphasizing the role of the social agent in enacting, through the embodiment of social structures, symbolic orders.He furthermore emphasized that the reproduction of social structures does not operate according to a functionalist logic.From 1964 onwards Bourdieu held the position of Professor (Directeur d'études) in the VIe section of the École Pratique des Hautes Études (the future École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales), and from 1981 the Chair of Sociology at the Collège de France (held before him by Raymond Aron and Maurice Halbwachs).In 1968, Bourdieu took over the Centre de Sociologie Européenne, founded by Aron, which he directed until his death.Bourdieu's best known book is Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste (1979).
During the 1990s Bourdieu became more and more involved in political debate, becoming one of the most important public faces of intellectual life in France.
(« La sociologie est un sport de combat » — "Sociology is a martial art"), his later career saw him enter the less academic world of political debate in France, raising the issue of whether the sociologist has political responsibilities extending to the public domain.
Although Bourdieu earlier faulted public intellectuals such as Sartre, he had strong political views which influenced his sociology from the beginning.
In 1996 he received the Goffman Prize from the University of California, Berkeley and in 2001 the Huxley Medal of the Royal Anthropological Institute.
Bourdieu's work is influenced by much of traditional anthropology and sociology which he undertook to synthesize into his own theory.