Re: another view of Panofsky: what is "habitus"?

From: Phil Chappell (
Date: Thu Jun 03 2004 - 07:42:53 PDT

To add to the contributions on habitus, it might be interesting to
consider what Bourdieu didn't consider relevant. At the risk of
igniting another discussion based on Marx ;-) Bourdieu did conceive of
social classes as not existing, but rather as something being done to
people - in contrast to Marxists political thought. More importantly,
B. was not conceiving of class as a concrete group that can be steered
into activity for common purposes, including being mobilised against
other groups/classes. Quote: "The real class if it has ever really
existed is nothing but the realised class, that is, the mobilised
class, a result of the struggle of classifications, which is a properly
symbolic (and political) struggle to impose a vision of the social
world, in perception and reality, and to construct classes in
accordance with which this social world can be divided". [Practical
Reason p. 11]

  As others have indicated, habitus is Bourdieu's and others' attempts
at allowing us to view relationships within social interaction as
embodied - peoplesí perceptions, reactions, habits, preferences,
attitudes, dispositions to actions and discourse are embodied - they're
not only to be found "in there', but as a system of both mind and body.
The term "embodied subjectivities" has been used in an attempt to
demonstrate that subjectivities are not simply mental constructs but
that bodies are inscribed with meanings which are produced in specific
relations of power.

How does this fit with the ways that classroom social interaction can
be constrained or afforded by the symbolic differences that emerge?

Phil Chappell

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