Bourdieu and Boal: Expanding upon Habitus, Practice and Field and Promoting Change INTRODUCTION
French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu desired to link micro and macro theories and levels of analysis. Bourdieu sought to bridge the gap between the individual and structure, the subjective with the objective. Interested in the action or existence of opposing social forces between structure and how an individual constructs social reality. Bourdieu’s research reflects his desire to connect the micro with the macro. This paper will take a look at research previously done on the topic of Bourdieu’s habitus, practice and field to further understand the dialectic relationship between the individual or agent and the structure. The purpose of this paper is to take an in depth look at Bourdieu’s theory than what was previously presented in the course this semester as well as the corresponding textbook for the course, Sociological Theory by George Ritzer. I will also take a look at Agusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed in accordance to Bourdieu’s concept of habitus as a tool usedto promote change. HABITUS
Bourdieu defines habitus as “systems of durable, transposable dispositions, structured structures predisposed to function as structuring structures” (1990:53). In other words, the habitus can be thought of as internalized social structures. As applied in a very general way, the habitus points to the collectively developed ability to act in accordance to specific environments or fields. Depending on one’s position or status within a field, a person’s habitus can be transferred from one field to another as long and individual’s habitus is appropriate(Ritzer 2008). Habitus consist of, as well as surpasses what we call habits. Habitus is adopted through upbringing and education. An individual’s habitus is acquired as a result of long-term occupation of a position in the social world. A person’s habitus begins to take form in early childhood. It can be said that experiences, which occurred in the past and often early childhood, serve as a filter through which new information passes through. Habitus reflects how an individual will relate to the future due to the fact that it is shaped by life conditions in the past (Österlind 2008). Because habitus is acquired through history and past experiences it can be said that habitus is the active existence of the past in the present. The cognitive filter created from early life experiences functions as a control filter between the cognitive mind and the physical world (Österlind 2008). One can then presume that social patterns are inherited based on the argument that habitus forms early on in one’s life. In the beginning stages of development as a child, one’s main point of contact or exposure is with their parents. Thus, traditions and patterns of acceptable and unacceptable social behavior are embedded in one’s dispositions as acquired mainly through the influence of one’sparents. “Habitus tends to ensure its own constancy and it’s defense against change by rejecting new information and by avoiding exposure to such information (Österlind 2008).” Changing the habituscan be a difficult process. As Bourdieu described, the habitus is a series of dispositions that are acted upon unconsciously. Seeing that the habitus tends to reject new information in order to maintain consistency, change is therefore, as a result, difficult. Although change is difficult, it is not however, impossible. In order to promote change, one must make a conscious effort to be aware of their habitus. In addition to being aware, one must make a conscious attempt to, in a sense, override what has become second nature to the individual. Through this phenomenon of change, it is evident that habitus does not determine how one should act or think but rather inclines how one should think or act (Myles 1999). It is apparent though change that habitus does not determine action. However, it does provide a set of principles...
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