Habitus vs Hegemony Essay

Although there are many similarities and connections among Bourdieu’s notion of habitus and Williams’ notions of hegemony and structure of feeling, there are also many differences. Through a brief discussion of the three concepts, the reasons why hegemony and structure of feeling would seem to challenge habitus, rather than support it, will become apparent. Bourieu’s notion of habitus is one of a way of organizing everything around a set of assumptions about a place.

The social practices, and assumptions about those practices, make up habitus.

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It is a social construction that is the reason for certain social norms or behaviors, though it feels more innate than that; people do not have to talk about the practices because everyone does them out of social habit. Habitus is the “flow” of society that is taken for granted. There are many similarities between Bourdieu’s notion of habitus and Williams’ notion of hegemony.

Williams’ notion of Hegemony is a critical concept broader than traditional ideology and takes a look at the problems with ideology.

Under the idea of hegemony, is the idea that there is never complete or total domination; there is always a counter-hegemony, that which resists is. Hegemony includes social practices and what we deem “common sense,” which is similar to what habitus encompasses with society’s “flow. ” Habitius also has a sense of control, just as hegemony does, but habitus has a more structural sense.

It takes a closer look at the relationships between what people think, closer to the way ideology does, not just the social practices. Another of Williams’ notions is structure of feeling, but whereas hegemony would seem to support Bourdieu’s idea of habitus, structure of feeling seems to challenge it. Structure of feeling is the emergent affective frame of social practices and, unlike hegemony and habitus, is not as taken-for-granted as common sense.

Structure of feeling is a notion that takes a broader look at hegemony (and habitus) and brings the sociological analysis to the next level; it is more of a notion of the relationships that arise because of the common-sense social practices rather than a notion of the theory of practice. Structure of feeling takes a look at they way that there are general cultural ideas or moods, or ways of expressing oneself, that have become dominant in any given culture.

Williams’ says that everyone has different experiences that they presume to be individual until they realize, through their relationships with other people, that that is not the case. This is where structure of feeling would seem to challenge habitus. Although they are both concerned with social patterns, practices and norms, habitus (and hegemony) discusses the patterns as something that goes unnoticed by the general population. Structure of feeling says that people do in fact realize these patterns through their interactions with one another. Another main difference between the three concepts is Williams’ idea of counter-hegemony.

Counter-hegemony is essentially resistance to the idea of hegemonic power; there is a general opposition to the function of hegemonic power in political and social practice. Hegemony is always haunted by counter-hegemony, and actually counters structure of feeling, whereas there is no discussion a counter-habitus. Since habitus is a notion of innate social habit, there is no power of control that is associated with it. Hegemony, on the other hand, is about social practices that become a dominant way of doing things, but there is no sense of inherency.

Since counter-hegemony is always a part of hegemony, this is why hegemony would only seem to support habitus, when in fact it is more of a challenge to Bourdieu’s concept. Counter-hegemony also opposes structures of feeling in this way because counter-hegemony is resistance to the common-sense, or emergent structure of social norms and practice, which is essentially what structure of feeling discusses. Although counter-hegemony challenges structure of feeling, which, in turn, challenges habitus, it does not actually support habitus.

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