One of the most insightful analyses of the historical development of capitalism from the perspective of changes in temporal dispositions is Pierre Bourdieu’s (1979) description of the changes in the economic and social order of the Kabyle in Algeria. Bourdieu conducted his fieldwork in Algeria in the 1950s at a moment when the capitalist economy was starting to penetrate traditional Kabyle society; its established ways of life and forms of economic organization were undergoing profound changes.


The monetized circuits of the capitalist economy were placing increasing pressure on the traditional economy, giving rise to intense conflicts and disorientation. Bourdieu describes changes to economic life and their effects on family structures and community relations using detailed ethnographic observations and statistical analyses. The study is most remarkable, however, in its description of the destruction of the Kabyle people’s temporal order and its replacement with a new one, which came about primarily through the expansion of monetized market exchange.


Bourdieu’s understanding of the relationship between the development of capitalism and changes in the temporal order of society was groundbreaking. He shows, from analysis of daily economic practices, that actors must integrate new temporal orientations in order to achieve economic success in a capitalist economy. These new temporal orientations uproot traditional ways of life in which the future is seen mostly as a circular repetition of events from the past.