Re: [xmca] habitus and need

From: Geoff <geoffrey.binder who-is-at>
Date: Fri Dec 19 2008 - 12:29:40 PST

Paul, I don't think Bourdieu pushes habitus far enough. To limit social
action to a particular field, plays down the *transposable *possibilities of
habitus. Bourdieu has an unfortunate economic bias in his idea of cultural
capital. He suggests that activity within the field is mediated by CC. I
think there is a great deal that goes on that is not about exchanges
deployed vis a vis status. I'd suggest that habitus provides us with a
number of strategies that we deploy depending on the situation at hand.
Moreover, habitus, as our pre-conscious dispositions, attunes us to
particular events and acts like a spring-board from which agency may leap.
If my habitus is threatened, like loosing my job, I'll vigorously defend it
IF my habitus includes the *practice *of unionism. If not, I may get
dejected and accept the bosses 'right' to sack me.

Again I'll invoke the word use. It seems to me that the use of habitus is
to free us up for action. As the acquisition of habitus has value, it is
worth defending and extending. Our practices define what we deem worthy of
defense and what we pursue.


2008/12/19 Paul Dillon <>:
> Geoff,
> I'm wondering about your use of Bourdieu's concept of
> "habitus". You write: " If motive is useful (pardon the pun) it is to
> alert us to the fact that our habitus predisposes us to act and
> react
> in particular ways.' As I understand this concept if doesn't
> predispose us to "act and react", rather the habitus provides
> structures that simultaneously enable SOCIAL ACTION and constrain it.
> Bourdieu's critique of the Mauss through Levi-Strauss use of
> "reciprocity" reveals this most clearly (ch.1, Outline of a Theory of
> Practice). Whereas for M & L-S reciprocity was something of an
> automatic process, Bourdieu argued that it defined a specific field of
> strategic, calculating action . . . when to return the gift? where to
> return the gift? these dimensions, played out within the habitus that
> "reciprocity" defined in many cultures, cannot be reduced to a blind
> predisposition to act and react.
> Paul
> i suppose most people felt a need to find some text in the previous
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> xmca mailing list

Geoffrey Binder
BA (SS) La Trobe, BArch (Hons) RMIT
PhD Candidate
Global Studies, Social Sciences and Planning RMIT
Ph B. 9925 9951
M. 0422 968 567
xmca mailing list
Received on Fri Dec 19 12:30:19 2008

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