Unity and fragmentation of the habitus

Silva, Elizabeth B. (2016). Unity and fragmentation of the habitus. The Sociological Review, 64(1) pp. 166–183.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-954X.12346


This paper examines a unitary notion of the habitus present in Bourdieu’s early works and its transformation along his sociological career, to later conceptions of a fragmented habitus concept to examine contemporary relationality and social change. The career of the concept of habitus in Bourdieu shows that interplays of habitus and fields are seen to demand increasing labour of integration from individuals as social life becomes more differentiated. The paper claims the need for sociology to engage with field analyses to advance explorations of the habitus and to acknowledge the potential pliability of the concept. It is suggested that sociology may adopt the psychoanalytic notion of ‘standing in spaces’ (and associated notions of ‘liminality’ and experiences in interstitial positions) for a productive development of the notion of fragmented habitus, and to enhance proposals that view the social with a history that is made available to humans to change.

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