Habitus vs. Hegemony

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Gabbi Feigenson
Dialogues in Critical Social Studies
Exam 1, question 4

Although there are many similarities and connections among Bourdieu’s notion of habitus and Williams’ notions of hegemony and structure of feeling, there are also many differences. Through a brief discussion of the three concepts, the reasons why hegemony and structure of feeling would seem to challenge habitus, rather than support it, will become apparent. Bourieu’s notion of habitus is one of a way of organizing everything around a set of assumptions about a place. The social practices, and assumptions about those practices, make up habitus. It is a social construction that is the reason for certain social norms or behaviors, though it feels more innate than that; people do not have to talk about the practices because everyone does them out of social habit. Habitus is the “flow” of society that is taken for granted. There are many similarities between Bourdieu’s notion of habitus and Williams’ notion of hegemony. Williams’ notion of Hegemony is a critical concept broader than traditional ideology and takes a look at the problems with ideology. Under the idea of hegemony, is the idea that there is never complete or total domination; there is always a counter-hegemony, that which resists is. Hegemony includes social practices and what we deem “common sense,” which is similar to what habitus encompasses with society’s “flow.” Habitius also has a sense of control, just as hegemony does, but habitus has a more structural sense. It takes a closer look at the relationships between what people think, closer to the way ideology does, not just the social practices. Another of Williams’ notions is structure of feeling, but whereas hegemony would seem to support Bourdieu’s idea of habitus, structure of feeling seems to challenge it. Structure of feeling is the emergent affective frame of social practices and, unlike hegemony and habitus, is not as taken-for-granted as common sense. Structure of...
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