Thursday, May 16, 2013

HABITUS: Objects, Behaviours, Rooms by Justin Ascott

Habitus' explores - through a creative dialectic - the way human consciousness is shaped by the compartmentalised structures of the places we inhabit -- primarily the home and workplace - and the habituated behaviours we perform within these various nodes. The mechanical actions we carry out each day -- lead to feelings of disillusionment and disengagement with social reality. The only objects and 'tools' that have the transformative power to expand consciousness are those commonly used by shamans in ritualised contexts - to induce altered states of perception for the purposes of healing, transcendence and revelation.

Habitus refers to lifestyle, the values, the dispositions and expectation of particular social groups that are acquired through the activities and experiences of everyday life. Perhaps in more basic terms, the habitus could be understood as a structure of the mind characterized by a set of acquired schemata, sensibilities, dispositions and taste. The particular contents of the habitus are the result of the objectification of social structure at the level of individual subjectivity. The habitus can be seen as counterpoint to the notions of rationality that are prevalent within other disciplines of social science research. It is perhaps best understood in relation to the notion of the 'habitus' and 'field', which describes the relationship between individual agents and the contextual environment.

Pierre Bourdieu elaborates on the notion of Habitus by explaining its dependency on history and human memory. For instance, a certain behaviour or belief becomes part of a society's structure when the original purpose of that behaviour or belief can no longer be recalled and becomes socialized into individuals of that culture.

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