Citation

Becoming a Dumpster Diver: Towards an Understanding of Habitus as Context-specific, Multiple and Decentralized

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Abstract:

This article proposes a rethinking of Bourdieu’s habitus as context-specific, multiple and decentralized, based on nine months of participant-observation fieldwork and interviews with dumpster divers in New York City. Dumpster divers are people who collect and eat food from retail trash as a lifestyle choice. Bourdieu theorized habitus as a relatively durable, classed structure acquired mainly during childhood socialization. While he recognized the possibility of acquiring a number of secondary or “specific” habitus (Bourdieu 2000) later in life, he never explored the implications of adulthood socialization for his theory of habitus. I argue that the case of dumpster divers prompts us to rethink habitus. Dumpster divers cultivate new dispositions as they learn to recognize promising trash bags by sight and touch, orient themselves to cityscape anew and displace commonsensical notions of trash, food and dirt. At the same time, they continue to borrow their classed food taste and consumption style from other fields of consumption. The simultaneity of the displacement and mobilization of previously acquired dispositions in the practice of dumpster diving challenges theoretical understandings of habitus as a unitary, classed substrate on the one hand or as fragmented on the other hand. In this article, I develop an alternative model of habitus as bundles of interlinked dispositions acquired in specific contexts and argue for the analytical value of this notion of context-specific habitus over a more narrow focus on habit-formation for understanding socialization processes.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

dumpster (161), trash (139), habitus (127), diver (94), food (87), bag (87), dive (70), practic (69), context (61), specif (60), bourdieu (53), social (50), disposit (48), acquir (47), like (43), new (38), context-specif (37), class (35), sens (34), feel (31), habit (29),
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Name: American Sociological Association Annual Meeting
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http://www.asanet.org


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p723779_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Cornelissen, Sharon. "Becoming a Dumpster Diver: Towards an Understanding of Habitus as Context-specific, Multiple and Decentralized" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Hilton San Francisco Union Square and Parc 55 Wyndham San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, Aug 15, 2014 <Not Available>. 2016-06-09 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p723779_index.html>

APA Citation:

Cornelissen, S. , 2014-08-15 "Becoming a Dumpster Diver: Towards an Understanding of Habitus as Context-specific, Multiple and Decentralized" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Hilton San Francisco Union Square and Parc 55 Wyndham San Francisco, San Francisco, CA Online <APPLICATION/PDF>. 2016-06-09 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p723779_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: This article proposes a rethinking of Bourdieu’s habitus as context-specific, multiple and decentralized, based on nine months of participant-observation fieldwork and interviews with dumpster divers in New York City. Dumpster divers are people who collect and eat food from retail trash as a lifestyle choice. Bourdieu theorized habitus as a relatively durable, classed structure acquired mainly during childhood socialization. While he recognized the possibility of acquiring a number of secondary or “specific” habitus (Bourdieu 2000) later in life, he never explored the implications of adulthood socialization for his theory of habitus. I argue that the case of dumpster divers prompts us to rethink habitus. Dumpster divers cultivate new dispositions as they learn to recognize promising trash bags by sight and touch, orient themselves to cityscape anew and displace commonsensical notions of trash, food and dirt. At the same time, they continue to borrow their classed food taste and consumption style from other fields of consumption. The simultaneity of the displacement and mobilization of previously acquired dispositions in the practice of dumpster diving challenges theoretical understandings of habitus as a unitary, classed substrate on the one hand or as fragmented on the other hand. In this article, I develop an alternative model of habitus as bundles of interlinked dispositions acquired in specific contexts and argue for the analytical value of this notion of context-specific habitus over a more narrow focus on habit-formation for understanding socialization processes.


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