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Using Bourdieu's concept of habitus to explore narratives of transition

By Gayna Davey


Written as part of a doctoral thesis exploring young people’s educational decision making, this article focuses on the stories of three of those students. The study on which the article draws is located in two institutions: an independent school and a sixth-form college. It follows 12 middle-class young people through their two years of A level study prior to university. The thesis argues for<br/>educational decision making as a classed practice, using Bourdieu’s trilogy of habitus, capital and field to develop a more nuanced understanding than that offered by occupationally defined social class. This article focuses on the narratives of three of those students. Drawing on their narratives of transition, the article aims to explore how far the concept of habitus can be used in empirical research. It is concluded that whilst there are limitations to what habitus offers as a research tool, it is a concept worth grappling with. If its promise is partially fulfilled, at the very least it accentuates the inadequacy of defining individuals through the labels of social class. Above all, habitus embraces continuity and change, offering a more fluid and dynamic understanding of classed identities

Year: 2009
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Provided by: e-Prints Soton
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