Habitus and Reflexivity: Restructuring Bourdieu’s Theory of Practice
by Nicos Mouzelis
London School of Economics
Sociological Research Online, Volume 12, Issue 6,
Contrary to Bourdieu’s thesis, it is not only when a subject’s habitus does not fit a field’s positions that s/he becomes more reflexive. Reflexivity is also enhanced by intra-habitus tensions, by more general incongruences between dispositions, positions, and interactive/figurational structures, as well as by situations unrelated to them. Because of his ambitious but unsuccessful attempt to transcend the objectivist-subjectivist divide in the social sciences, Bourdieu underemphasizes the interactive dimension of social games, and this creates serious problems for his conceptualization of the linkages between habitus, reflexivity, and practices. The way to make Bourdieu’s theory of practice less functionalist and/or deterministic is to restructure it so that it seriously takes into account not only the dispositional and positional but also the interactive dimension of social games. It then becomes obvious that reflexive accounting, conscious strategizing, and rational calculation are not exceptional but routine, constitutive elements of human action.