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#1
10-27-2013
Thumbs up 'habitus'

here i'm calling for a serious discussion of this idea, which, among other things, refutes the notion that people are rational actors.

related

and something i wrote on the matter
Spoiler!






discuss.

Last edited by PM; 10-28-2013 at 09:50 AM.
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#2
10-27-2013
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I may have time for a more extended response at some point. I read through most of the article by Swartz (all the way through the section entitled "Habitus, Capital, and Field").

My conclusions following the piece are that what Bourdieu calls habitus does indeed constitute an essential factor in determining how man acts. That is, man's dispositions are the result of past experiences, which include observations of his fellow man's actions. Man is born into a social context and is heavily influenced in this context. The context in a large part determines his preferences/dispositions.

As the article states, "the dispositions of habitus shape and orient human action; they do not determine it." So when will man act "against habitus," as it were? The answer given in the article seems to be when a man engages in critical reflexivity, that is, when man consciously/rationally reflects on his taken-for-granted ways of acting. But man does not commonly do this, as Bourdieu argues. So when might he reflect on his habitual ways of acting? Quite simply, when these habits produce consequences contrary to the end he is most trying to pursue. Only when his habits produce unwelcomed consequences does he consciously reflect and even alter his actions such that he "kicks the habit" in favor of actions that produce more desirable consequences (Mises says as much on pg.47 of Human Action). So at this point I see no rift between Bourdieu and Mises. However, Mises would argue that "indulgence in a routine which possibly could be changed is action." That is, Mises would say that when man continues on in his habits or routines, he has implicitly made an instantaneous decision not to alter his actions. So here is a seemingly small disagreement between Mises and Bourdieu. Bourdieu sees man acting instantanously according to habits as a disproof of rational choice, wheras Mises views man who acts according to habit as an example of an implicit choice not to act otherwise, to not critically reflect. Even if you find there to be a significant disagreement here, it really has no practical effect on economic theory from a Misesian viewpoint. As long as it is agreed that man will critically reflect on habitual actions when these actions produce unwanted consequences, then the thesis that man seeks to maximize his utility/value or "psychic profits" is left unscathed, for we find that man will change/quit his habits once he sees that they produce lower-than-wanted value for him as opposed to other actions.

What I want to get across is that what Bourdieu says about habitus (from what I can get from that short article by Swartz) is true and that this is compatible with Mises' view of human action and Mises' definition of "rational" (which is quite different from what the mainstream economist defines as rational; that the mainstream economic assumption of rational behavior is a restrictive assumption that does not hold in reality has been recognized within economics quite clearly in the fields of experimental economics and behavioral economics).

Mises would refer to Bourdieu as a "thymologist," and, where this is of course my speculation, would likely agree with much of what was said in the Swartz article about habitus. It would be interesting to see how far the compatibility of Bourdieu's thymology and Mises's praxeology can go. I think, from the very short amount I have read on habitus, that it really is not Bourdieu's theory of action versus Mises's theory of action. Bourdieu seems to be studying the factors that determine what actions humans will take, whereas Mises is studying the effects of the fact that humans act, irrespective of the content of specific actions and the reasons why the individual chose these actions.

See pages 264-272 of Theory and History for clarification about what Mises means by thymology and how he separates it as a unique discipline from praxeology/economics. I think you will find at least in some sense the compatibility I am speaking of. For instance, Mises, while holding that all action is rational, admits that the choice of ultimate ends is always irrational. In this section, Mises also seems to support that psychoanalysis and his theory are quite compatible.

Lastly, reading your piece, the only bit I would like to respond to is about the Wall Street investors who have grown up in a culture that tells them they are the best, and so they have developed a hubris that makes them willing to take more risks than they probably should, and that when these risks go bad they can rationalize and tell themselves it was the market that failed them, and not that they failed. With all of these elite concentrated into power positions which effect the entire economy, you would see that there would likely be excessive risk taking just based on this fact, and that this could pretty much explain the instability of the current economic system because it seems to engender excessive risk taking by its very nature, resulting in booms and busts.

However likely this story seems, assuming a free market system (no cronyism) system, those who rise to the top of companies would either have to be people who have managed risk well and produced more gains than losses, or are people who were handed the company and, in order to continue successfully, must manage risk effectively by making sure they have systems in place so that these fresh out of Harvard assholes are not given enough authority to take huge gambles (and lose them a buttload of cash) until they have proven themselves as effective risk managers. So the people on top have quite an incentive to prevent excessive risk taking.

HOWEVER, if we institute a system where moral hazard is rampant because you have Fannie-Mae and Freddie-Mac, viewed as a government-backed agencies, guaranteeing loans and a Federal Reserve and federal government willing to bail you out if you take big losses (that is, a Fed willing to subsidize bad risk-taking), then you let the Harvard assholes take their risks because you won't have to assume any (or as much) of the losses.

So from the top you have huge moral hazard that encourages investors to take excessive risk, on the bottom you have mortgage brokers who have the incentive to originate as many loans as they can sell. Since investors are willing to take excessive risk, the mortgage brokers originated loans with people who couldn't pay the loans back because it did not matter to them; once they originated the loan, they bundled it with other loans and sold it as mortgage-backed securities to investors, so effectively it did not matter to them whether or not the loan was paid back, because that would only effect the investor (and since investors were willing to take a ton of risk, mortgage-brokers could originate shitty loans and still have investors pay them money for it!).

So really I see it plausible that these fresh out of Harvard-types would think that they are the best and think that any risk they take will pay off because they are just that awesome. But I also see huge incentives for companies to restrict the amount of risk that can be taken by these people until they prove themselves as capable investors. And I also see these people fresh out of Harvard realizing that they have limited job security and that if they make a big fuck up that it will hurt their career.

But if you have a system rampant with moral hazard, making losses isn't as bad anymore, because you can just get bailed out and have someone else buy your shitty assets. So if you are watching everyone else taking big risks and making loads of cash during the bubble, you are going to want to get in on it while the getting is good. You are going to take those risks because you don't want to miss out on the party.

So I don't think you can replace an economic explanation with just using the concept of habitus, but you can use it as part of an explanation and make such an explanation of events even more plausible.
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#3
10-27-2013
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first of all, thanks for the thoughtful response

right off the bat i'd like to bring up the point you make about effective risk management. even in the ideal system you want to talk about, risk management is never anything more than the shifting of risk onto other populations. that's what's implied by the term management; it's delegated and spread out (or concentrated in produced exteriorities) through what constitutes something like an administrative grid but which requires no real administration, since itself 'self-regulating', regulated by the pan-horizontal law of profit-- and profit of course requires that dissent (union power and the like) be kept to a minimum. (also largely why we switched from coal to oil; which england has like none of, though a lot of coal; because oil can be extracted in ways that don't provide workers with any actual power). cf. http://www.amazon.com/Americas-Kingd.../dp/0804754462 and http://books.google.com/books/about/...d=4YcWWNO2eXsC and cf. also the piece on 'seeing like an oil company' that i left on your page some time ago.

but your response merits a much more full response on my part; i'll get to that, i promise. however, it's mid-terms, and i have lots of papers to write :S

Last edited by PM; 10-28-2013 at 10:14 AM.
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#4
10-27-2013
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Just a quick response. I think I was using the wrong language when I said "risk management." It was incorrect word choice on my part. What I meant was that those in charge of financial corporations, in the ideal free market system I reference, would want to restrict new hires until they prove they are good risk-takers. I mistakenly used the term risk management, and you are correct, risk management would deal with shifting the risk to different agents.

So what I mean by "good risk-takers" are people that, on the average, take risks that end up being profitable, rather than resulting in a loss. In this context, taking too much risk would likely result in accounting losses that more than offset accounting profits made on other deals, whereas not taking enough risk results in opportunities for profit passed by in favor of less accounting-profitable (and less risky) ventures. In either case, being too risky or not risky enough results in negative economic profits because alternative actions that could have been taken would have resulted in more accounting profit.
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#5
10-30-2013
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it's hard for me to think it would even be worth replying to your first post when you're trying to absorb bourdieu's critique within mises' framework; of course i have a very limited knowledge of mises' framework, and i still haven't had the time to read through the work you linked yet. but still, i've a suspicion that bourdieu would want to resist your trying to fold his idea into mises' economic theory.

it seems like a way to brush off his idea without really taking its radical consequences into account.


anyways, i will attend to both of your posts in time. but for now, i'll just leave this here, since it's relevant and might generate further, more productive discussion

Spoiler!

Last edited by PM; 10-30-2013 at 01:23 PM.
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#6
10-30-2013
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I'll read through your post when I get the chance. I just want to make it clear why I brought up Mises.

Your initial post brought up Bourdieu's idea as an argument against people as rational actors. A refutation of this sort is usually aimed at discrediting economic theory as such since a main assumption of economic theory is that actors act rationally (or that they act rationally enough of the time such that the conclusions of the theory based on all rational actors is decently accurate as describing real-world behavior).

Now the way mainstream economics defines rational may not be the same way Bourdieu defines rational, and is definitely not the way Mises defines rational.

Why I brought Mises into it was to find what we are taking "rational" to mean. In addition, I wanted to see if Bourdieu's idea would conflict with Misesian economics as much as it may conflict with mainstream economics. My thoughts were that such an idea does not conflict and does not do much to counter economic theory, at least as expounded by Mises. This is because it (in my extremely brief exposure to the idea of habitus) seems that it does not counter the idea that individuals seek to maximize their own utility/satisfaction/happiness with every action they take (given their circumstances and present knowledge). If anything, appeals to habitus appear (to me based on my small exposure to the idea) to supplement, rather than supplant, economic explanations of social phenomena.

To get to the point, you mentioned that habitus is "an idea which deserves to be taken seriously in any explanation of social events, where economic explanations as such fail." Perhaps I am reading too far into this, but this seems possibly to allude to economic theory and habitus conflicting, at least in some cases. As such, my response was to say mainly that "no, they don't conflict." So I wasn't trying to "absorb" Bourdieu's theory into a Misesian framework because I like Mises and can't understand anything other than Mises; rather, I was trying to find if the truth of one theory necessarily implies the falsity of the other; whether the truth of habitus would necessarily lead to the conclusion that (Misesian) economics is wrong because it is built around the purported fact that human action is rational.

I appealed to the thought of an economist whose ideas I am familiar with who bases his theory in a deeper philosophical rationale, rather than adhering to the positivist paradigm. Hence, I did not compare it to the thought of your common economist who may follow the methodology of Milton Friedman. They'd probably say, "what are the concrete testable implications of your theory (habitus)? (That is, what would it take empirically for us to reject or fail to reject your theory?) You say there are no concrete testable implications that, if not met, could falsify your theory? Then it's just a hogwash theory whose connection to empirical reality cannot be known because there are no clear empirical tests we can run to possibly falsify (or support) the theory. In addition, we don't care if people actually act rationally; we only care if the assumption that they do leads to a theory whose testable implications are verified through empirical testing. So even if your theory were true, as long as our theory that assumes rational actors keeps predicting well, it doesn't matter."

Quote:
i've a suspicion that bourdieu would want to resist your trying to fold his idea into mises' economic theory.
On the contrary, I am not trying to fold it into Mises's economic theory (praxeology), but instead argue that it belongs in its own separate field which Mises calls thymology.
(I'm folding it into a Mises framework insofar as I'm using a term he used to describe a field of study separate from what he worked on primarily... in any case, I'm not folding Bourdieu's theory into Mises's economic theory, but am using a distinction Mises used in separating fields of study -- economics from "thymology" and "thymology" from "naturalistic psychology").
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#7
10-31-2013
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tell me what mises means by 'rational' action, again?
Quote:
Action is purposive conduct. It is not simply behavior, but behavior begot by judgments of value, aiming at a definite end and guided by ideas concerning the suitability or unsuitability of definite means. . . . It is conscious behavior. It is choosing. It is volition; it is a display of the will.
Quote:
As the article states, "the dispositions of habitus shape and orient human action; they do not determine it." So when will man act "against habitus," as it were? The answer given in the article seems to be when a man engages in critical reflexivity, that is, when man consciously/rationally reflects on his taken-for-granted ways of acting. But man does not commonly do this, as Bourdieu argues. So when might he reflect on his habitual ways of acting? Quite simply, when these habits produce consequences contrary to the end he is most trying to pursue

" Perhaps I am reading too far into this, but this seems possibly to allude to economic theory and habitus conflicting, at least in some cases. As such, my response was to say mainly that "no, they don't conflict." So I wasn't trying to "absorb" Bourdieu's theory into a Misesian framework because I like Mises and can't understand anything other than Mises; rather, I was trying to find if the truth of one theory necessarily implies the falsity of the other; whether the truth of habitus would necessarily lead to the conclusion that (Misesian) economics is wrong because it is built around the purported fact that human action is rational."

but you were in fact treating the idea as a critique of mises' thought, right off the bat. (this was of course my intention).
but this only really means that you were from the very start looking to absorb the critique.

look: from where i'm sitting, what you've done is to have reschematized bourdieu's idea in mises' own language (bastardizing it-- necessarily-- from the very start) and thereby leaving me no room to even respond to your responses, since i have no mastery of mises' thought and no time to read through the pdf you left on human action to garner something like a working understanding.


i will say though that it's odd how, so far, this thread has only really consisted of your expounding some of the tenets of austrian economics and critiquing positivism, and no real discussion of the idea of habitus (or any of bourdieu's other intertwined concepts)-- but only a statement of this idea you've gathered: that humans act in predisposed ways, and that mises acknowledges this, unlike other economists. but that's a habit. that's not habitus. you've made for yourself an understanding of bourdieu's concept that rejects all of its radical consequences and kept only really the idea that humans are influenced by society and act habitually. and look back over the language you use itt: it's clear you're only even trying to think about this concept in mises' own terms.

while i appreciate your sharing with me your views and your careful responses i'm not sure we're making any progress here one way or another.

maybe this weekend i'll find the time and patience to read through your posts again and try to write out equally careful responses, but i don't now


as an aside,
Quote:
It is a widespread fallacy that skillful advertising can talk the consumers into buying everything that the advertiser wants them to buy. The consumer is, according to this legend, simply defenseless against high-pressure advertising. If this were true, success or failure in business would depend on the mode of advertising only.
no; that doesn't follow the claim that consumers are talked into buying things which they are sold in advertisements. only an economist living in a TV-less consumer society and charged with the task of legitimizing the current state of affairs through peer-reviewed scientific economical theorizing could even think this.



and i'll leave this here (i posted it earlier but must've deleted it in an edit)
http://simulacrum.cc/2012/07/21/pier...nction-part-i/
short of linking you to bourdieu's actual introduction to distinction (i can't find it freely available), this is as good an explanation of the idea as any.

Last edited by PM; 11-01-2013 at 11:05 AM.
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#8
11-01-2013
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No time to actually throw my hat in here, but I just wanna say that from what Mises seems to have said of thymology, I wish he had engaged with Foucault (and Kuhn, Feyerabend, and Lakatos as well).


Also at first glance I'm unable to see a conflict between habitus and the concept of Ideology used by people who are more in my wheelhouse. They more or less fold into each other, I guess.
Spoiler!

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#9
11-05-2013
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"The relation between habitus and practice is not unlike that between the virtual and the actual: an unfolding or differentiation that takes place in the event of an encounter with other bodies. Habitus and the virtual alike describe an ontology that underlies but is of a different order from the realm of representation, discourse, and ideology. Habitus, Bourdieu tells us, is like the work of art in that it “always contains something ineffable, not by excess [. . .] but by default, something which communicates, so to speak, from body to body, i.e. on the hither side of words and concepts” (Outline 2; emphasis in original), while the virtual, Brian Massumi explains, is “the unsaid of the statement, the unthought of thought” (A User’s Guide 46; emphasis in original). Hence both theorists’ distaste for ideology: for Deleuze and Guattari, “there is no ideology and never has been” (A Thousand Plateaus 4); for Bourdieu, more measured, “I have little by little come to shun the use of the word ‘ideology’” (Pascalian Meditations 181). "

( http://posthegemony.blogspot.com/2007/04/habitus.html )


"Bourdieu’s intervention is therefore also ontological, substituting immanence for the dueling imperial transcendences of structure and agency. He refuses both “mechanism” (an emphasis on structure) and “finalism” (a stress on agency), arguing that the debate between the two is “a false dilemma” (Outline of a Theory of Practice 72). If “it is necessary to abandon all theories which explicitly or implicitly treat practice as a mechanical reaction” shaped by rules or structures alone, equally “rejection of mechanistic theories in no way implies that [. . .] we should reduce the objective intentions and constituted significations of actions and works to the conscious and deliberate intentions of their authors” (73). Mechanism and finalism, structure and agency, are each as reductionist as the other, seeking causes always elsewhere, in some other dimension, either the “transcendent, permanent existence” of objective social constraints and regulations or the “transcendence of the ego” equipped to make its own rules (27, 75). So Bourdieu turns to habit, or “habitus,” an embodied set of dispositions immanent to practice itself. Habitus is a system “of durable, transposable dispositions, structured structures predisposed to function as structuring structures, that is, as principles which generate and organize practices and representations” (The Logic of Practice 53). These dispositions are “objectively ‘regulated’ and ‘regular’ without in any way being the product of obedience to rules, objectively adapted to their goals without presupposing a conscious aiming at ends” (Outline 72). Habit, our everyday activity, is therefore the product of a “scheme (or principle) immanent in practice, which [. . .] exists in a practical state in agents’ practice and not in their consciousness, or rather, their discourse” (27; emphasis in original). Regulation and practice are immanent to each other, rather than mediated either by consciousness or by external structures. Habitus is an attitude of the body. It is the unspoken, unspeakable, feel for the social game that generates the positions and actions that agents adopt in given situations, in regular if not fully predictable ways. In short, because it is immanent, habitus is both embedded, and so structured; and it is also generative, an immediate rather than external motor of action."

hmmm

i've put in bourdieu's mouth-- in so many words-- agents-seeking-Capital who don't really have much agency, and who recognize (consciously and unconsciously) the laws that govern their possible behaviors (who calculate and castrate) and who have mapped out essentially neurotic movements (only reproducing reproductions) in the spaces they inhabit-- who have predetermined relations to space (greased grooves of action) which reinforce themselves

this
"Habitus is a system “of durable, transposable dispositions, structured structures predisposed to function as structuring structures, that is, as principles which generate and organize practices and representations” (The Logic of Practice 53). These dispositions are “objectively ‘regulated’ and ‘regular’ without in any way being the product of obedience to rules, objectively adapted to their goals without presupposing a conscious aiming at ends” (Outline 72). Habit, our everyday activity, is therefore the product of a “scheme (or principle) immanent in practice, which [. . .] exists in a practical state in agents’ practice and not in their consciousness, or rather, their discourse” (27; emphasis in original)."
would seem to contradict parts of my years-old reading, wherein i say, e.g., a 'moral economy of addicted bodies' is formed essentially because the agents (addicts) mutually recognize their interdependence and frame their actions in Q/A form; this would of course imply that a principle exists in each individual addict's consciousness; and this is precisely not what bourdieu is saying by habitus

Last edited by PM; 11-05-2013 at 09:46 PM.
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#10
11-05-2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PM View Post
tell me what mises means by 'rational' action, again?
Quote:
...and thereby leaving me no room to even respond to your responses, since i have no mastery of mises' thought and no time to read through the pdf you left on human action to garner something like a working understanding.

To the ends of clarifying Mises's theory so you have something to work off of, I have tried to find sections of Ch. 1, 2, and 4 of Human Action that will give you an idea of his foundation for his theory insofar as it makes explicit what Mises means by "action," "conscious," and "rational." Before quoting each section, I will try to offer a couple things you might want to note at the offset so that you don't start tearing apart Mises only to read that he addresses the issue further on.

Before reading this section, you may want to instead skip it and read the rest of my post and then come back to it.

Spoiler!


^^^^^Anyway, I hope that helps a bit for our discussion; I tried to keep it as focused as I could on things that would be possibly relevant from our discussion. I thought it would be proper for me to post these excerpts since you had supplied me with some articles that would introduce me to and help me understand habitus.
------------------------------------------------------------------

Now onto my response to your previous post........


Quote:
but you were in fact taking the idea as a critique of mises' thought right off the bat (which was of course my intention).

...from where i'm sitting, what you've done is to have reschematized bourdieu's idea in mises' own language (bastardizing it-- necessarily-- from the very start)
So you intended to aim your initial post at showing that habitus is a critique of Mises. So then I mention Mises and say that it really isn't a critique. And because of that, I've bastardized Bourdieu's thought because I explained why I do not see it as a critique(??) (or I was somehow expected to show how it is not a critique without using any of Mises's terms----without using the way he defines "action" and "rational").

I have not critiqued habitus itself because I don't find that much that I substantially disagree with (from my reading of the Swartz article). Most of the notes I wrote for myself have to do with definition issues stemming from what Mises may call "rational" and "action" and what other people may mean by those words. Again (as you intended), I viewed your post as a critique of economics, and particularly Mises.

The onus is on you to tell me where I am wrong in saying that the idea of habitus does not strike against economic theory and the applicability of economics to certain social phenomena, because that was your initial claim. I did my part in trying to understand habitus and defend against your claim. I don't expect you to have a working knowledge of Mises, as I hope you don't expect me to have a working knowledge of Bourdieu. I am quite liable to make mistakes in understanding Bourdieu's ideas, as you are in understanding Mises's ideas. That's why we talk it out.

But what I will say is that if you are going to make a claim that Bourdieu's theory conflicts with that of Mises, then you are going to need to know what Mises says. So if this is the claim you want to go with (that habitus raises fundamental issues with Mises's economic theory), then it will take some time to read a little Mises. If you are interested at all, what I posted above should give you a decent enough intro from which you could maybe try and show how habitus shows a weakness in Mises's starting points. I, for one, cannot find how it weakens any arguments that Mises makes.

If your claim is that habitus conflicts with mainstream economics and do not care to take up Mises on his theory, then I have already given a perfectly good mainstream positivist response.

Quote:
i will say though that it's odd how, so far, this thread has only really consisted of your expounding some of the tenets of austrian economics and critiquing positivism, and no real discussion of the idea of habitus (or any of bourdieu's other intertwined concepts)-- but only a statement of this idea you've gathered: that humans act in predisposed ways, and that mises acknowledges this, unlike other economists.
Not sure what you want. Perhaps you were expecting me to be vehemently against the efficacy of Bourdieu's theory of habitus, but so far that is not the case. The discussion that I thought was to be had was whether or not habitus struck against economic theory. I do not see how my posts have been anything but focused on my argument that, as I understand it (based on my brief exposure to Bourdieu's concept), habitus does not conflict with economic theory. The key point I was making is that Bourdieu acknowledges that man can act contrary to the habitus, and that this admission (which I believe is true) means that the habitus really does not conflict with Misesian economic theory, where the meaning of rational choice can (arguably) be simplified into the form that people act to maximize expected utility ("psychic profits").

But if we are trying to discuss habitus divorced from your original argument that habitus refutes economic theory, or more precisely that it refutes the theory of rational actors which forms the basis for economics, and are now instead just to engage in a discussion about the theoretical content of the habitus alone, I do have a suitable question in that regards based on something you said:

Quote:
but that's a habit. that's not habitus. you've made for yourself an understanding of bourdieu's concept that rejects all of its radical consequences and kept only really the idea that humans are influenced by society and act habitually.
What is the fundamental difference between the complex of an individualís (perhaps subconscious) dispositions that find their origin in one's society, culture, class standing, genetics, experience, upbringing etc and the habitus? Swartz's definition simply says "The habitus consists of deeply internalized dispositions, schemas, and forms of know-how and competence, both mental and corporeal, first acquired by the individual through early childhood socialization." I guess I'm just having trouble seeing where my interpretation went astray using this definition.


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as an aside,

"It is a widespread fallacy that skillful advertising can talk the consumers into buying everything that the advertiser wants them to buy. The consumer is, according to this legend, simply defenseless against high-pressure advertising. If this were true, success or failure in business would depend on the mode of advertising only."

no; that doesn't follow the claim that consumers are talked into buying things which they are sold in advertisements. only an economist living in a TV-less consumer society and charged with the task of legitimizing the current state of affairs through peer-reviewed scientific economical theorizing could even think this.
You wrongly interpreted what Mises just said (and this quote doesn't seem particularly relevant to our discussion). He did NOT say that the claim that "consumers are talked into buying things which they are sold in advertisements" is false and led to the conclusion that success or failure in business would depend on the mode of advertising only.
What he did claim is that the claim that "skillful advertising can talk the consumers into buying everything (in other words, "anything") that the advertiser wants them to buy" is false and would imply that success or failure in business would depend on the mode of advertising only.

Mises would not reject that people are influenced by advertisements. He would object to the fact that advertisement can make people buy anything a supplier is peddling. If you actually read the quote in context, it becomes quite clear that my interpretation is correct:


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Originally Posted by Mises, Human Action, 317-319
It is a widespread fallacy that skillful advertising can talk the consumers into buying everything that the advertiser wants them to buy. The consumer is, according to this legend, simply defenseless against "high-pressure" advertising. If this were true, success or failure in business would on the mode of advertising only. However, nobody believes that any kind of advertising would have succeeded in making the candlemakers hold the field against the electric bulb, the horsedrivers against the motorcars, the goose quill against the steel pen and later against the fountain pen. But whoever admits this implies that the quality of the commodity advertised is instrumental in bringing about the success of an advertising campaign. Then there is no reason to maintain that advertising is a method of cheating the gullible public.

It is certainly possible for an advertiser to induce a man to try an article which he would not have bought if he had known its qualities beforehand. But as long as advertising is free to all competing firms, the article which is better from the point of view of the consumers' appetites will finally outstrip the less appropriate article, whatever methods of advertising may be applied. The tricks and artifices of advertising are available to the seller of the better product no less than to the seller of the poorer product. But only the former enjoys the advantage derived from the better quality of his product.

The effects of advertising of commodities are determined by the fact as a rule the buyer is in a position to form a correct opinion about the usefulness of an article bought. The housewife who has tried a particular brand of soap or canned food learns from experience whether it is good for her to buy and consume that product in the future too. Therefore advertising pays the advertiser only if the examination of the first sample bought does not result in the consumer's refusal to buy more of it. It is agreed among businessmen that it does not pay to advertise products other than good ones.
...

There are many evils for which contemporary technology and therapeutics have no remedy. There are incurable diseases and there are irreparable personal defects. It is a sad fact that some people try to exploit their fellow men's plight by offering them patent medicines. Such quackeries do not make old people young and ugly girls pretty. They only raise hopes. It would not impair the operation of the market if the authorities were to prevent such advertising, the truth of which cannot be evidenced by the methods of the experimental natural sciences. But whoever is ready to grant to the government this power would be inconsistent if he objected to the demand to submit the statements of churches and sects to the same examination. Freedom is indivisible. As soon as one starts to restrict it, one enters upon a decline on which it is difficult to stop. If one assigns to the government the task of making truth prevail in the advertising of perfumes and tooth paste, one cannot contest it the right to look after truth in the more important matters of religion, philosophy, and social ideology.

The idea that business propaganda can force the consumers to submit to the will of the advertisers is spurious. Advertising can never succeed in supplanting better or cheaper goods by poorer goods.

The costs incurred by advertising are, from the point of view of the advertiser, a part of the total bill of production costs. A businessman expends money for advertising if and as far as he expects that the increase in sales resulting will increase the total net proceeds. In this regard there is no difference between the costs of advertising and all other costs of production. An attempt has been made to distinguish between production costs and sales costs. An increase in production costs, it has been said, increases supply, while an increase in sales costs (advertising costs included) increases demand[27]. This is a mistake. All costs of production are expended with the intention of increasing demand. If the manufacturer of candy employs a better raw material, he aims at an increase in demand in the same way as he does in making the wrappings more attractive and his stores more inviting and in spending more for advertisements. In increasing production costs per unit of the product the idea is always to increase demand. If a businessman wants to increase supply, he must increase the total cost of production, which often results in lowering production costs per unit. [p. 323]
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only an economist living in a TV-less consumer society and charged with the task of legitimizing the current state of affairs through peer-reviewed scientific economical theorizing could even think this.
...

This leads me to believed you cherrypicked a Mises quote from a 900 page book out of context for the purpose of discrediting Mises without actually taking into account any of his thought relevant to our discussion. In the process, you incorrectly interpreted what he was saying, which seems to me to be pretty uncontroversial.




I think it'll be more productive to focus on whether or not habitus refutes economic theory, not whether or not Mises or Bourdieu once said something that we think is absurd.

(Also, I appreciate that you have been posting more sources for me to learn about habitus. I'll try to get to those when I can.)
GT: Zyphex

Last edited by zyphex; 11-05-2013 at 08:21 PM.
 

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