Well-founded social fictions: a defence of the concepts of institutional and familial habitus

C T Burke, N Emmerich, Nicola Ingram

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This article engages with Atkinson's recent criticisms of concepts of collective habitus, such as 'institutional' and 'familial' habitus, in order to defend their conceptual utility and theoretical coherence. In so doing we promote a flexible understanding of habitus as both an individual and a collective concept. By retaining this flexibility (which we argue is in keeping with the spirit of Bourdieuian philosophy) we allow for a consideration of the ways in which the individual habitus relates to the collective. We argue that, through recognition of the complexity of the interrelated habitus of individuals, collective notions go beyond individualist accounts that perceive only the relational aspects of the individual with the social field. Our approach allows us to consider social actors in relation to each other and as constitutive of fields rather than as mere individuals plotted in social space. These arguments will be woven through our responses to what Atkinson calls the three fatal flaws of institutional and familial habitus: namely, homogenisation, anthropomorphism, and substantialism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-182
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology of Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


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