Habit and Habituation: Governance and the Social

Body and Society 19 (2-3):3-29 (2013)
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Abstract

This article examines the issues that are at stake in the current resurgence of interest in the subject of habit. We focus on the role that habit has played in conceptions of the relations between body and society, and the respects in which such conceptions have been implicated in processes of governance. We argue that habit has typically constituted a point of leverage for regulatory practices that seek to effect some realignment of the relations between different components of personhood – will, character, memory and instinct, for example – in order to bring about a specific end. In reviewing its functioning in this regard across a range of modern disciplines – philosophy, psychology, sociology – we explore the tensions between its use and interpretation in different lineages: in particular, the Cartesian–Kantian/ravaisson–bergson–deleuze lineages. The article then identifies how these questions are addressed across the contributions collected in this special issue.

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