Richard Charles Strong
Habitus Beyond Bourdieu
Incorporating Technological, Interhuman, & Ecological Entanglements into the Foundations of Social Ontology
Committee: Yannik Thiem (Chair), Georg Theiner, James Wetzel
I aim to situate social ontology within a dispositional socio-cognitive paradigm that can accommodate and explain the welter of heterogeneous types of past, on-going, and changing social relations, activities, kinds, & collectives.
I defend the claim that social ontological problems are best approached in terms of acquired schemas and dispositions. I go on to argue that the concept of habitus, as developed by Pierre Bourdieu, provides the basis for an universal social ontological framework though it must be remediated and extended beyond a narrow interhuman horizon.
The result of this research is to further our understandings and explanations of how human societies hang together, how social relations and entities fall into looping classificatory matrices and complementary material configurations, as well as offer clearer targets for social critique.
My dissertation project, Habitus Beyond Bourdieu, attempted to bridge the gap between what we know about the mind and what we know about the social world. I did so by confronting fundamental paradigms in social ontology offering a multiscalar dispositional-artifactual story in opposition to prevailing accounts grounded in either ontological individualism or collective intentionality, respectively. I defended the claim that social ontological questions are best approached in terms of acquired cognitive schemas and dispositions combined with ongoing materially scaffolded activity rather than through collectively shared intentions that we project onto the world or through the lens of society understood as a mere aggregation of atomic individuals. My account enables us to bring into relief issues of power, difference, value, social reproduction and change, attend to social phenomena at different scales, incorporate environmental and technological considerations beyond an anthropocentric view of “the social,” and provide a unified wide-lens metaphysical account of the welter of problems associated with the heterogenous grounding of social reality in the minds and bodies of agents in relation to their milieu. The result of my research shows that joining up mind and social world illuminates both.