Relationship of Societal Institutions and the Concept of Habitus

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Pierre Bourdieu is a French sociologist who presents a focus on the relationship of societal institutions and the concept of habitus. Habitus is simply the socially structured norms that influence individuals in order to direct the ideas and behaviors that make them who they are. With this, habitus does not allow individuals to possess complete freedom of their thoughts and perceptions. The individual’s expressions, judgments, thoughts, perceptions, and behaviors are all reflective of societal structures such as, class, gender, politics, and education which are then reproduced by their actions. These common practices and perceptions are formed by one’s history and can be modified over time through different lifestyles and unexpected conditions such as education, age, or becoming a parent. This means that individuals will not have a habitus identical to another individual. Lastly, people’s everyday activities and tastes exist in relation to the people around them and that habitus is essential to controlling aspects of individual’s social lives (Johnson 2006). Bourdieu’s concept of habitus is evident through his articles, “Distinction” and “Cultural Reproduction and Social Reproduction” and can also be demonstrated in Shamus Kahn’s book, Privilege. Bourdieu’s article, “Distinction” exemplifies this idea of habitus and the effect of institutions on social and cultural patterns. He demonstrates how these institutions instill a social order into people’s thoughts and everyday
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