Engaging Bourdieu’s habitus with Chinese understandings of embodiment: Knowledge flows in Health and Physical Education in higher education in Hong Kong

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This paper begins with a question: can concepts generated in the Chinese context in the sociocultural relations of the periphery contribute to the development of the social sciences in the field of Health and Physical Education (HPE) that have their roots in the metropole? Setting the scene in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), a postcolonial city reverted to the rule of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1997, this paper aims to develop a critical sociology of HPE by having a dialogue among Continental philosophies (e.g., Bourdieu) and Chinese philosophies around embodiment concepts. Although HKSAR is a complex meeting point of Eastern and Western ideologies, the current HPE field tends to focus on Western and ‘scientific’ ways of knowing, such as the measurement of health and physical fitness, and often at the expense of sociocultural perspectives, social justice and diversity and inclusion in HPE. In other words, the (post) positivistic research paradigm underpins the HPE field. This paper argues that in order to reap the benefits of a more holistic health education for academics and students in HPE, it is vital to de-imperialise the positivistic ways of teaching and being in HPE. In doing so, this paper creates a space for Bourdieu’s habitus to meet Chinese perspectives on embodiment to engage in a dialogue for knowledge production that extends the current knowledge base in HPE.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1256-1265
Number of pages10
JournalEducational Philosophy and Theory
Issue number12
Early online date21 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2020


  • Bourdieu
  • Chinese philosophies
  • Health and Physical Education
  • Hong Kong SAR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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