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Habitus of a Lifetime: Celebrating Feminist Sociology of Class, Gender & Race

A BSA Bourdieu Study Group Event

8 November 2024 (2-7pm GMT)
University of Bristol, UK

Keynote Speaker

  • Professor Diane Reay

About the Event

In his now classic text, Outline of a Theory of Practice (1977), Bourdieu highlighted habitus as a “system of lasting, transposable dispositions which, integrating past experiences, functions at every moment as a matrix of perceptions, appreciations, and actions…” And since Bourdieu’s introduction of habitus as part of his conceptual toolkit, there have been significant extensions and reformulations the term—subjecting Bourdieu’s original formulation to considerable theoretical stretch, which has sparked debates about the (mis)uses of the term and resulted in what feminist sociologist Diane Reay critiqued as “[i]t’s all becoming a habitus.” But Bourdieu’s conceptualization of habitus was not meant to animate theoretical debates per se; the concept was developed to illuminate the complexities of structural and cultural inequalities in schools and society (alongside complementary conceptual tools like capital and field).

Despite debates about habitus, and the varied deployment of the concept in sociological and educational research, one point remains clear: habitus matters. In theory and in practice, habitus matters for recognizing, reproducing and resisting class inequalities, including their racialized and gendered dimensions around the world. But, drawing on the work of Diane Reay, how can Bourdieu’s theorization of habitus, and contemporary explications of it, shape our global and local struggles for solidarity across lines of class, gender and race within and beyond the academy? Inspired by Diane Reay, we ask: how can understandings of habitus, particularly from a feminist standpoint, be mobilized in pursuit of economic, gender and racial justice that results in human flourishing?

Professor Diane Reay, one of the leading international sociologists of our time, developed and pushed forward understandings of habitus that has left an indelible mark on the field of sociology. This event brings together sociologists to celebrate Professor Reay’s pioneering contribution to the field as well as to recognize the enduring and ever-expanding feminist sociological tradition of analyzing class, gender and race—and the analytical utility of habitus in this work. Speaking alongside Professor Diane Reay will be Professor Louise Archer, Professor David James and Professor Aina Tarabini, among others. Join us for what promises to be an inspiring and invigorating discussion of habitus - its origins and its consequences for redressing class, gender and racial inequalities in our lifetime.

Draft Outline Timetable


Welcome, Registration and Opening Remarks
(Jessie Abrahams)


Keynote 1 - Diane Reay


Refreshments break


Keynote 2 (Panel Session) - David James, Louise Archer and Aina Tarabini


Workshops with keynote speakers


Wine Reception Courtesy of School of Education, University of Bristol

7pm until late

Dinner, Drinks and Dancing at The Lost & Found Bristol


  • BSA Member: £10
  • Non-member: £10
  • Evening Celebration: £20

Registration is essential and places are limited so book early to avoid disappointment.

The event will be followed by a party to celebrate the life and work of Professor Diane Reay. We are subsidizing the cost of this party to enable as many people to attend as possible. Tickets can be purchased upon registration. This will include an evening meal, a drinks reception, and a disco in a private venue.

Please note: booking is essential for the party and you will not be able to book at the last minute. We hope to see you there!