[csaa-forum] Public Lecture: TONY BENNETT -- 'The Divided Habitus'

Audrey Yue aisy at unimelb.edu.au
Fri May 5 18:36:50 CST 2006

The Department of English with Cultural Studies 
at The University of Melbourne presents a free 
Public Lecture.

Professor Tony Bennett
'The divided habitus: aesthetics and the politics of taste'

6: 15 pm Tuesday 23 May 2006 
Prince Phillip Theatre (Architecture Bldg) The University of Melbourne

Pierre Bourdieu's concept of habitus has played a 
significant role in cultural studies in 
suggesting that our relations to texts – whether 
visual, literary, or auditory – are mediated via 
class-based habitus that provide unified and 
unifying principles of taste that are manifest 
across the full range of an individual's cultural 
interests.  Yet Bourdieu claimed that his own 
habitus was a divided or cleft one as a 
consequence of the conflicting experiences 
arising from his social mobility.  This lecture 
will suggest that such a divided habitus is the 
rule rather than the exception, and that the 
notion of a unified habitus – which plays a 
central role in Bourdieu's sociology of 
consumption – is unsustainable.  The argument 
will be illustrated by drawing on the evidence 
regarding the social distribution of cultural 
tastes from a recent study of the relationships 
between cultural practices and cultural capital 
in the UK.  Its implications for accounts of the 
relations between aesthetics and the politics of 
taste will be explored by contrasting Bourdieu's 
interpretation of the social inscription of 
Kantian aesthetics in processes of class 
distinction with competing accounts focused their 
role in relation to development of liberal forms 
of governance.

Tony Bennett is Professor of Sociology at the 
Open University, a Director of the Economic and 
Social Science Research Centre on Socio-Cultural 
Change (CRESC), and a Professorial Fellow in the 
Faculty of Arts at the University of Melbourne. 
His current interests focus on the sociology of 
culture, with special reference to questions of 
culture and governance, the history and theory of 
museums, cultural and media policy, and relations 
of class, culture and social exclusion.  His 
publications include Formalism and Marxism; 
Outside Literature; Bond and Beyond: The 
Political Career of a Popular Hero (with Janet 
Woollacott); The Birth of the Museum: History, 
Theory, Politics; Culture: A Reformer's Science; 
Accounting for Tastes: Australian Everyday 
Cultures (with Michael Emmison and John Frow); 
Culture in Australia: Policies, Publics, Programs 
(co-edited with David Carter); Contemporary 
Culture and Everyday Life (edited with Elizabeth 
Silva); and, most recently,  Pasts Beyond Memory: 
Evolution, Museums, Colonialism and New Keywords: 
A Revised Vocabulary of Culture and Society 
(edited with Larry Grossberg and Meaghan Morris)  
He was elected to membership of the Australian 
Academy of the Humanities in 1998.

Enquiries: Annemarie Levin, 8344 5506, 
alevin at unimelb.edu.au 


Dr Audrey Yue
Cultural Studies Program
Department of English with Cultural Studies
The University of Melbourne
Victoria 3010
aisy at unimelb.edu.au
+ 61 3 8344 5506/7
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