The Social Genesis of Individual Practice


Whilst Bourdieu’s concept of habitus provides some useful insights into the ‘social’ nature of our identities, it also presents some analytical shortcomings. In this paper I expose some of the theoretical deficiencies present in Bourdieu’s model and argue that these can be resolved by applying some of the insights of the Perfomative Theory of Social Institutions, a theory principally developed by Barry Barnes, David Bloor and Martin Kusch. These scholars provide more analytically developed notions of the nature of the social, the self, and the social construction of social identities. My paper aims to contrast these two Social Constructionist views of the constitution of the self. In doing so, I intend to illustrate that, with its core notion of the social as a ‘collective accomplishment’, the performative theory fundamentally transforms the current sociological understanding of social phenomena. 

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