Practice Theory Revisited: How Flexible Meta-habit Complements Habitus
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The Maria Grzegorzewska University
Publication date: 2019-03-26
Polish Sociological Review 2019;205(1):65-84
This article seeks to understand why it is relatively easy for today’s individuals to acquire new behaviors, how the mechanism behind such acquisition developed, and how it is socially coordinated. Empirical findings reveal that new behaviors are mostly acquired unthinkingly. Hence, revisiting practice theory, I propose the concept of meta-habit to help us understand the blind and automatic acquisition of new behaviors. According to Pierre Bourdieu, habitus acquired primarily in childhood generates practices and contributes to the reproduction of the social order. Meta-habit includes disposal toward being open to situational context, toward inquisitiveness, and toward reading the external clues of behavior. Meta-habit generates practices on the basis of influences in the symbolic community: in this way practices are coordinated socially. Meta-habit is responsible for the reproduction of the social order in situations when the social space is very dynamic—this being the case of late modernity, which is a system comprising myriads of fields.
For insightful and demanding comments on an earlier draft of this article I would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers. For translation into English my thanks go to Amber Steele-Zielińska.
This work was supported by the Maria Grzegorzewska University University (BSTP 28/15-I).
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