File spoon-archives/bourdieu.archive/bourdieu_2000/bourdieu.0004, message 23

Subject: RE: Habitus and learning styles...
Date: Fri, 14 Apr 2000 10:16:58 +0200

	What IS a learning style?
	I think 'learning syle' is as slippery an animal as 'habitus' and
	With  these I just begin to think I have some ideas of what they are
	the meanings seem to slip away, but I am learning. After a very
	entertaining discussion about habitus last year I realised it is in
a sense
	a heuristic device not to be reified. Learning styles may have to be
	treated in the same way.

I heartily agree with that.
>From my standpoint, taking "habitus" as a "heuristic device" should invite a
critical distance towards the usage of this concept, and namely:
1) in those attempts to deliver formalized explanations of social phenomena
- practices - which explicitly or implicitly voice pretensions of uncovering
a fundamental determinism or an ontological groundwork as regards social
practice, being, or "structure" (and one is never sure of Bourdieu's own
slippery pretensions here);
and, simultaneously,
2) a critical distance towards the kind of things we say when we engage in
informal conversations - different from when we attempt to give thoughts a
coherent logical form in writing; for in informal talk we play an ambiguous
game in which ordinary ("spontaneous") and abstracted ("reflected") language
dance together, a game not very different from astrology, or from "tell me
what you eat (or how you walk, talk, dress, etc.) and I will tell you who
you are..." -- all those games whose pretension at uncovering a cause or
delivering an explanation is both playful and serious - playfully serious,
seriously playful.

None of this means to say that one should refrain from talking in an
off-hand (playful) way, nor that one should refrain from seeking -
scientifically, rationally - universal determinants of human social
behavior. It just means that one must always be careful and take into
awareness what game one is actually playing in order to avoid ideological
(or merely confusing) transubstantiations of one concrete thing into a
metaphorical other, and vice-versa.

Regardlessly yours,


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