Habitus

“The habitus, then, is a structured structure that structures how one views and acts in the world.” (ADE 422)

Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of habitus seems to have two essential aspects: the structure of society and its affect on individuals. He reflected the available life chances based on social status, which is determined by economic and cultural capital. Economic capital becomes the ability to make money. Cultural capital includes aesthetic preferences and tastes that mark a hierarchical social status as well as legitimize existing social inequalities (such as appreciation for highbrow versus lowbrow culture). It also perpetuates and reproduces structural inequality by shaping expectations and behaviors on a basis for unequal distribution of resources. Weber’s influence is visible from how class affects an individual’s lifestyle and subculture (food, dress, housing, etc.) causing social stratification.

Habitus becomes a deeply ingrained influence on individuals and society, where the results seem almost natural (which some have argued) rather than learned or developed. For example, an upper class individual steeped in classical music and fine art appreciates “highbrow” culture. A working class individual is unlikely to have a similar appreciation, but from a lack of experience rather than an inherent reason.

Durkheim’s influence also can be seen through the reaction of poststructuralism. The French poststructuralists believed that society’s structure is constructed in a two-way relationship between individuals and society (relativism rather than universality). Poststructuralists became very interested in linguistics, semiotics, and history to explain the current structure and culture of society.

Within this context, Gauchat explores anti-science attitudes through three hypotheses: science literacy, evangelical faith, and social embeddedness. These hypotheses reflect the societal structure and the survey responses (especially the control variables) reveal individual actions. For example, scientific knowledge becomes a negative indicator for anti-science attitudes. He concludes that the model that includes all three hypotheses best explain anti-science attitudes because individuals experience science differently and their social ties conditions those experiences. For example, socializing results in stronger social ties to an individual’s chosen groups and the group’s beliefs might be different from the rest of society, particularly applicable in religion (such as evolution and cosmology).

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