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Which clippings match 'Social Conditions' keyword pg.1 of 1
03 JULY 2009

Communities of practice and habitus: A critique

"'The conditionings associated with a particular class of conditions of existence produce habitus, systems of durable, transposable dispositions, structured structures predisposed to function as structuring structures, that is, as principles which generate and organize practices and representations that can be objectively adapted to their outcomes without presupposing a conscious aiming at ends or an express mastery of the operations necessary in order to attain them. Objectively 'regulated' and 'regular' without being in any way the product of obedience to rules, they can be collectively orchestrated without being the product of the organizing action of a conductor.' (Bourdieu 1990: 53)

If we explore this statement, we see, first, an explicit link between patterns of thought and social conditions. Particular forms of social condition produce particular forms of habitus. The habitus is in turn not so much a content as a set of principles, principles which are embodied, expressed in the hauteur of the aristocrat or the stance of the peasant. Rather than a focus on particular contexts in which principles can be employed, the emphasis is on the way in which a similar set of principles is employed across contexts, is 'applied, by simple transfer, to the most dissimilar areas of practice' (Bourdieu 1986: 175). A crucial factor in this application is then whether they are appropriate to the particular rules of the game. Bourdieu is particularly concerned to stress the practical mastery of the rules of the game and the effortless performance of rules without the recognition that such rules are being followed. The rules emerge from the ebb and flow of practice and are inherent in the relations that operate in a particular field. 'There is', argues Bourdieu (1990: 50), 'an economy of practices, a reason immanent in practices, whose 'origin' lies neither in the 'decisions' of reason understood as rational calculation nor in the determinations of mechanisms external to and superior to the agents.' However, the ability to employ the appropriate strategies depends on the tacit acquisition of generative principles that depend on social position. Those from different social conditions will tend to respond in the same way, because of the objective conditions of existence that they share (Bourdieu 1990: 58). Their early experiences will be crucial in determining their future responses, as they will tend to react to new experiences by assimilating them to the generative principles they acquired (Bourdieu 1990: 60). The focus on practice is clearly attractive to those developing the notion of communities of practice (Wenger 1999: 281 note 6), but we need to recognize that for Bourdieu habitus is prior to practice a nd regulates it. This seems to give problems for conceptions that privilege the development of modes of operation through practice. If habitus, as Bourdieu has it, is acquired at an early stage in an unconscious fashion and is resistant to change, then the issue is the interaction between habitus and practice, rather than its creation through practice."
(Alistair Mutch, 2003)


communities of practiceCoPdispositionsEtienne Wengerhabitus • hauteur • organisation studies • organisational communication • patterns of thoughtPierre Bourdieusocial conditions


Simon Perkins
09 MAY 2006

Reflexive Modernisation: knowledgeable subjects able to reflect on their social conditions

"The electronic integration of all communication modes from the typographic to the multimedia particularly consists of (fashion) images and signs. People are increasingly able to monitor and evaluate these images as well as place themselves within the world, both historically and geographically. The more that societies modernise, the greater the ability of knowledgeable subjects to reflect upon their social conditions of existence. Lash (1994) characterises this as 'reflexive modernisation'. In a world of ever–faster change and growing abstraction the process of reflexivity opens up possibilities for the recasting of meaning in work and in leisure and for the heterogenisation and complexity of space and everyday life. Confronted with the increasing cultural content of flows reflexivity becomes aesthetic – a notion for which Lash and Urry argue in their book Economies of Signs and Space (1994)"
(Jan Verwijnen, UIAH. Helsinki)

Scott Lash & John Urry (1994). 'Economies of Signs and Space' : Sage Publications Ltd. 0803984723


1994abstractioncomplexity • evaluate • heterogenisation • integrationJohn Urry • modernise • monitormultimediareflectreflexive modernisationreflexivityScott Lashsocial conditions

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