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01 MAY 2015

The Nature of Social Worlds

"The notion of social worlds is used here to refer to a form of social organization which cannot be accurately delineated by spatial, territorial, formal, or membership boundaries. Rather, boundaries of social worlds must be determined by interaction and communication which transcend and cross over the more formal and traditional delineators of organization. The term social world is used here to develop a common referent for a number of related concepts which refer to similar phenomena, Thus, social world phenomena encompass that which other sociologists have referred to as: occupational contact networks, invisible colleges, behavior systems, activity systems, and subcultures. After tracing some of the sociological history of social world analysis, a series of concepts are developed which bring together and bind all of the previously mentioned concepts into a systematic whole. Major aspects of individual involvement, structural features of social worlds, levels of social world analysis, and some implications of a social world perspective are presented. In this way, a program for study and unification of related concepts is presented in preliminary form."

(David Unruh, 1980)

David Unruh (1980). "The Nature of Social Worlds" The Pacific Sociological Review, Vol. 23, No. 3 (Jul., 1980), pp. 271-296.

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TAGS

1980 • a social world perspective • accepting a common worldview • activity systems • assemblages of social actors • behaviour systemsbelief systems • boundaries of social worlds • cognitive orientation • collective commitmentcollective identity • collective representations • collectivity • common worldview • cultural perspective • cultural phenomenon • cultural traditionsDavid Unruh • diffuse worlds • ethnic communities • ethnic minorities • formal organisations • group membership • interaction and communication • invisible college • local worlds • located in relation to others • meaning systems • mediated interaction • networks of interrelated voluntary associations • occupational contact network • patterns of thought • perceptual framework • shared action • shared attitudes • shared common worldview • shared goals • shared intentions • shared meaningsshared practices • shared understandings • shared worldview • social construction of reality • social factssocial organisation • social unit • social world • social world analysis • social world phenomena • social worlds • spatial sites • subcultural communities • subculturethinking and acting as a group member • transcultural communities • united by a common worldview • universe of regularised mutual responsevoluntary participationweltanschauungworldview

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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)

TAGS

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

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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