Pub. date: 2005 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952552 | Print ISBN: 9780761926115 | Online ISBN: 9781412952552| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The concept of habitus is characterised by a useful degree of imprecision that has allowed it to be taken up by a range of very different social theorists, in very different contexts. It addresses the need to think about humans without resorting to the gnomic mysteries of psychoanalysis, on the one hand, or the implausible clarity of rational actor theories, on the other. The closest one might be able to come to a generally acceptable definition of habitus would focus on those aspects of human behaviour and cognition that are inexplicit, less than fully conscious, ungoverned by deliberate decision making, and bound up with and in the embodied encounter with others and the environment. Any lack of conceptual clarity thus arguably has its origins in the indeterminacy of what the notion is attempting to grasp. Deriving from philosophy—being used by, among others, Hegel and Husserl—habitus, in its original Latin meaning, ...