Bordieu’s Habitus & Hexis

The term habitus (/ˈhæbɪtəs/) refers to ingrained habits, skills, and psychological/behavioral  dispositions. It is the way that individuals perceive the social world around them and react to it. These dispositions are usually shared by people with similar backgrounds (such as social class, religion, nationality, ethnicity, education, profession etc.). The habitus is acquired through imitation (mimesis) and is the reality that individuals are socialized, which includes their individual experience and opportunities. Thus, the habitus represents the way group culture and personal history shape the body and the mind, and as a result, shape present social actions of an individual.

Pierre Bourdieu suggested that the habitus consists of both the hexis (the tendency to hold and use one’s body in a certain way, such as posture and accent) and more abstract mental habits, schemes of perception, classification, appreciation, feeling, and action. These schemes are not mere habits: Bourdieu suggested they allow individuals to find new solutions to new situations without calculated deliberation, based on their gut feelings and intuitions, which Bourdieu believed were collective and socially shaped. These attitudes, mannerisms, tastes, moral intuitions and habits have influence on the individual’s life chances, so the habitus not only is structured by an individual’s objective past position in the social structure but also structures the individual’s future life path. Pierre Bourdieu argued that the reproduction of the social structure results from the habitus of individuals (Bourdieu, 1987).


References

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