Habitus: Grammar of the social framework

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Body language, spoken language, and embedding of the communication in a certain cultural context all combine to create a complex presentation of a person: his or her "way of life" or "charisma.”

Sociological research emphasizes the importance of this "habitus." In many cases it helps people determines if they want to communicate and work together, and, if so, how they will go about it – “There is a good chemistry.” Pierre Bourdieu attributes this “chemistry” to social structures. A person is not born with all these characteristics, but “the grammar of the social framework” is illustrated in him or her: A person's habitus makes it possible to define his or her social status and rank. At best, it can be communicated without being stated directly: Two anthropologists might recognize each other at the conference by their language, associations, selection of food at the buffet, or by their clothing. The habitus strongly shapes our style of communication. To be able to understand more clearly how a person is seen by others and how our own words are understood by others, a person must be conscious of his or her own habitus.


Bourdieu, Pierre, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste, trans. Richard Nice, Harvard University Press 1984

Nils-Eyk Zimmermann

Nils-Eyk Zimmermann

Editor of Competendo. Coordinator of the project DIGIT-AL Digital Transformation in Adult Learning for Active Citizenship. Network Secretary of the DARE network. Topics: active citizenship, civil society, digital transformation, non-formal and lifelong learning, capacity building. Blogs here: Blog: Civil Resilience. Email: office@dare-network.eu