Habitus, Freedom and Reflexivity

Hilgers, Mathieu. 2009. Habitus, Freedom and Reflexivity. Theory and Psychology, 19(6), pp. 728-755. ISSN 0959-3543 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The question of freedom is recurrent in the theory of habitus. In this paper I propose that the notion of freedom is an essential and necessary component for the coherence of the analyses which mobilize habitus both in terms of their theoretical articulation and in terms of their grounding in empirical reality. This argument can seem surprising considering that the theory of habitus has often been accused of being deterministic. Yet I show that, from an epistemological point of view, habitus theory is not deterministic. Bourdieu’s treatment of this concept implies at least three principles that exclude determinism: (1) the production of an infinite number of behaviors from a limited number of principles, (2) permanent mutation, and (3) the intensive and extensive limits of sociological understanding. After identifying and describing these principles, I show the reason for their incompatibility with a deterministic perspective and consider their implications for the corresponding model of action. I illustrate this analysis by a discussion of Loïc Wacquant’s carnal sociology of the pugilistic universe which reveals why it is essential to understand and explain the relation between habitus and freedom

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology > Centre for Urban and Community Research (CUCR)



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Date Deposited:

29 Sep 2015 09:56

Last Modified:

02 Dec 2015 14:53

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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