File spoon-archives/bourdieu.archive/bourdieu_2000/bourdieu.0009, message 61

Date: Tue, 26 Sep 2000 15:53:53 +0100
Subject: Re: Moving on....

> > My mental picture of it is the movement of an ant's legs after it's died ... it keeps
> > moving, though the reasons for doing so have disappeared.  I like the idea and it is
> > useful for thinking about.  As an addition to the concept of habitus, though, it
> > smells rahter strongly of ad hoccery.
> Here's my question:
> Why 'ad hoccery'?  Shouldn't we view habitus as an adaptation?  Aren't
> adaptations (admittedly ad hoc in another sense) only temporary and
> always subject to revision?  (Bourdieu's acknowledgment of the
> pragmatists helps us understand this point.)  Thus, isn't habitus always
> 'subject to revision' (pun intended)?
> If we agree so far, then doesn't it follow that the notion of hysteresis
> is inseparable from that of habitus?  (And possibly under-theorized by
> Bourdieu?)
> Bill Hord

Ah, there's a regular problem arriving here.  Because we don't have a means of analysing
the structuring of the habitus at any one time, distinct from the practices to which it
gives rise, then any discussion is likely to slide between practices and the habitus
without anyone noticing.

Practices are an adaptation, between the habitus and the field.  The habitus isn't.  It
is, however, subject to revision in the course of practices, a kind of feedback effect,
but durable enough to not be a constantly changing mechanism.

I'd suggest hysteresis might be a possible aspect to habitus, resulting from it being a
durable and transposable structuring mechanism.  If so, then the two are inseparable in
that sense.

I said 'ad hoc' because it seems to me that, as Bill says, it's not been very well

With best wishes,


Karl Maton
School of Education, University of Cambridge

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