Habitus And Gender Equality

Feb 4 10:57 2007 Sharon White Print This Article

Habitus and cultural background/capital is recognized by many sociologists as one of the leading reasons of gender inequality.

The different forms of cultural capital,Guest Posting rooted in the possession of economic capital, inter-relate to reproduce social hierarchies and conceal their arbitrary nature. A person’s level of education, the cultural capital that they possess, combined with the value of the networks on which it is possible for them to draw and the amount of economic capital at their disposal, gives a person certain advantages or disadvantages that structure their possible occupation and income. Combined, the forms of capital produce a persons ‘habitus’, or pre-disposition, a set of prescribed, embodied inclinations. In this way inequality appears to be naturalised; social inequalities are enacted through the gentle repetition of practice shaping consciousness in a way similar to Lukes third dimension of power. This is temporal and therefore dynamic; it is an open system allowing for social change, Bourdieu is therefore able to find a balance between economic determinism and the agency that is the individual’s lived experience. For Bourdieu individuals are free to make their own choices, but not in circumstances of their own choosing; the amount and quality of cultural, economic and social capital that they possess informs those choices and structures their mode of thought. Habitus is both determining and generative, by virtue of its ability to constitute the field from which it emerges; it is the ‘feel for the game’ that reproduces the game. Why does Bourdieu not also conceive of gender as a form of capital? His use of capital is both metaphoric and materialistic; where Marx used capital to refer to the dialectically linked domination and appropriation. As capital is directly transferable in to economic capital, it would be better to view gender as a form of capital as the benefits gender accrues can also be transferred indirectly into economic gain.

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Sharon White
Sharon White

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