Theorizing change: Between reflective judgment and the inertia of political Habitus

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Abstract

In an effort to delineate a more plausible account of political change, this paper reads Pierre Bourdieu’s social theory as a corrective to exaggerated enthusiasm about the emancipatory force of reflection. This revised account valorizes both Bourdieu’s insights into the acquired, embodied, durable nature of the political habitus and judgment theorists’ trust in individuals’ reflection as a perpetual force of novelty and spontaneity in the public sphere of democratic societies. The main purpose of this exercise is to reveal the mix of continuity and discontinuity that is characteristic of most transformations in the political common sense of democratic societies. In other words, this paper seeks to offer a more complex understanding of the inertial character of reflective judgment and of the difficulty of shifting the categories that define the political common sense. By cross-pollinating the ever-growing literature on reflective judgment and Bourdieu’s sombre theory of politics, we can better calibrate our expectations regarding the possibilities of significant democratic transformation in late capitalist societies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-42
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Theory
Volume15
Issue number1
Early online date5 Jun 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2016

Keywords

  • political change
  • political judgment
  • habitus
  • common sense
  • Bourdieu

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