Gender, Habitus and the Field: Pierre Bourdieu and the Limits of Reflexivity

This article argues that the failure of certain theories of reflexive identity transformation to consider more fully issues connected to gender identity leads to an overemphasis on the expressive possibilities thrown up by processes of detraditionalization. By ignoring certain deeply embedded aspects, some theories of reflexive change reproduce the `disembodied and disembedded’ subject of masculinist thought. The issues of disembodiment and disembeddedness are explored through a study of the work of Pierre Bourdieu on `habitus’ and the `field’. The idea of habitus yields a more dynamic theory of embodiment central to a feminist understanding of gender identity as a durable but not immutable norm. The idea of the `field’ provides a more differentiated analysis of the social context in which the reflexive transformation of gender identity unfolds. This, in turn, offers a way of thinking of possible transformations within gender identity as uneven and non-synchronous phenomena.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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