Research Online


Goldsmiths - University of London

Narrative habitus: thinking through structure/agency in the narratives of offenders

Fleetwood, J. 2016. Narrative habitus: thinking through structure/agency in the narratives of offenders. Crime, Media, Culture, 12(2), pp. 173-192. ISSN 1741-6590 [Article]

[img] Text
narrative habitus CMC article - revised version - final.docx - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

Download (139kB)

Abstract or Description

Starting from the premise that experience is narratively constituted and actions are oriented
through the self as the protagonist in an evolving story, narrative criminology investigates how
narratives motivate and sustain offending. Reviewing narrative criminological research, this article
contends that narrative criminology tends towards a problematic dualism of structure and agency,
locating agency in individual narrative creativity and constraint in structure and/or culture. This
article argues for a different conceptualisation of narrative as embodied, learned and generative,
drawing on Bourdieu’s notion of habitus. Social action, which here includes storytelling, is
structured via the habitus, which generates but does not determine social action. This theorisation
understands structures and representations as existing in duality, according a more powerful role
to storytelling. The article concludes by discussion of the implications of such a shift for narrative
interventions towards offending.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Agency, Bourdieu, narrative criminology, offending, structure

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology > Unit for Global Justice (UGJ)


17 June 2016Published Online

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

11 Aug 2017 15:10

Last Modified:

25 Jun 2019 11:45

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)