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Well-founded social fictions: A defence of the concepts of institutional and familial habitus

Burke, Ciaran Thomas; Emmerich, Nathan; Ingram, Nicola


Nathan Emmerich

Nicola Ingram


This article engages with Atkinson’s recent criticisms of concepts of collective habitus, such as ‘institutional’ and ‘familial’ habitus, in order to defend their conceptual utility and theoretical coherence. In so doing we promote a flexible understanding of habitus as both an individual and a collective concept. By retaining this flexibility (which we argue is in keeping with the spirit of Bourdieuian philosophy) we allow for a consideration of the ways in which the individual habitus relates to the collective. We argue that, through recognition of the complexity of the interrelated habitus of individuals, collective notions go beyond individualist accounts that perceive only the relational aspects of the individual with the social field. Our approach allows us to consider social actors in relation to each other and as constitutive of fields rather than as mere individuals plotted in social space. These arguments will be woven through our responses to what Atkinson calls the three fatal flaws of institutional and familial habitus: namely, homogenisation, anthropomorphism, and substantialism.


Burke, C. T., Emmerich, N., & Ingram, N. (2013). Well-founded social fictions: A defence of the concepts of institutional and familial habitus. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 34(2), 165-182.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 11, 2012
Online Publication Date Dec 20, 2012
Publication Date Mar 1, 2013
Deposit Date Jan 9, 2020
Journal British Journal of Sociology of Education
Print ISSN 0142-5692
Electronic ISSN 1465-3346
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 34
Issue 2
Pages 165-182
Keywords habitus, institutional habitus, familial habitus, collective habitus
Public URL