UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Margins of freedom : A field-theoretic approach to class-based health dispositions and practices Veenstra, Gerry; Burnett, Patrick John


Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of practice situates social practices in the relational interplay between experiential mental phenomena (habitus), resources (capitals), and objective social structures (fields). When applied to class-based practices in particular, the overarching field of power within which social classes are potentially made manifest is the primary field of interest. Applying relational statistical techniques to original survey data from Toronto and Vancouver, Canada, we investigate whether smoking, engaging in physical activity, and consuming fruits and vegetables are dispersed in a three-dimensional field of power shaped by economic and cultural capitals and cultural dispositions and practices. We find that aesthetic dispositions and flexibility of developing and established dispositions are associated with positioning in the Canadian field of power and embedded in the logics of the health practices dispersed in the field. From this field-theoretic perspective, behavioural change requires disruption of existing relations of harmony between the habitus of agents, the fields within which the practices are enacted, and the capitals that inform and enforce the mores and regularities of the fields.

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