Our discussion of society continues with a look at the term habitus. This is one of the trickier concepts we’ll be tackling this semester, but it is crucial to astute social analysis. It also dovetails with a lot of other social theory terms and, in my view, helps to clarify some of the more public debates about how society works. I hope to demonstrate this and more in our class time together.

For you to prepare I’m going to give you a little more flexibility than usual. While I’m going to still divide your work into two days, I also understand that you might choose to wait to complete it until after our class discussion. That is fine as long as you read for class at the assigned times listed on the syllabus.

For day one, please develop your understanding of Pierre Bourdieu’s social theory, by defining the following terms (note that they progress logically and roughly in the order as they appear in the book):

  • habitus v. meritocracy.
  • habitus as “structured structures” and structuring structures,” “matrix of perception,” and how “we build the world, but then it builds us.”
  • dispositions (list the four noted by Martin, too [p. 88]).
  • the hysteresis effect
  • normalization
  • discrimination
  • privilege

For day two, I’d like you to consider where the rubber meets the road with Bourdieu’s social theory. Where do you see his framework being germane to a hot-button issue around you? It could be anything from something discussed in the news or to an issue in your friend group. Write 250-350 words providing an example, bringing into the discussion words and themes you’ve learned in this week’s readings. In class we’ll discuss Martin’s discussion of Evangelical Christianity and the United States in class to give you a sense of what I mean.

Besides the word play on “habit,” I like how this film revolves around the difficulty of confounding social expectations and the power dynamics of social structures. Benignly it’s an underdog story. In another way it’s kind of a tragedy. Bourdieu might challenge us to investigate whether there’s much of a difference.