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Habitual reflexivity and skilled action

Toner, John


Dr John Toner
Lecturer in Sports Coaching and Performance


Theorists have used the concept habitus to explain how skilled agents are capable of responding in an infinite number of ways to the infinite number of possible situations that they encounter in their field of practice. According to some perspectives, habitus is seen to represent a form of regulated improvisation that functions below the threshold of consciousness. However, Bourdieu (1990) argued that rational and conscious computation may be required in situations of ‘crises’ where habitus proves insufficient as a basis for our actions. In the current paper, I draw on a range of evidence which indicates that conscious intervention (including self-reflective sensory consciousness) is required not only at points of crises but also as skilled performers engage in the mundane actions/practices that characterise their everyday training and performance regimes. The interaction of conscious learning and unconscious schemata leads to the development of a reflexive habitus which allows performers to refine and adapt embodied movement patterns over time.


Toner, J. (2017). Habitual reflexivity and skilled action. Body and Society, 23(4), 3-26.

Acceptance Date Sep 8, 2017
Online Publication Date Oct 19, 2017
Publication Date 2017-12
Deposit Date Oct 9, 2017
Publicly Available Date Oct 19, 2017
Journal Body & society
Print ISSN 1357-034X
Electronic ISSN 1460-3632
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 23
Issue 4
Pages 3-26
Keywords Habitus; Bourdieu; Expertise; Consciousness; Discursive practice; Bodily awareness
Public URL
Publisher URL
Copyright Statement ©2017 University of Hull
Additional Information This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article published in: Body & society, 2017, v.23 issue 4.


2017-10-09 15624 Toner-JLE.pdf (236 Kb)

Copyright Statement
©2017 University of Hull

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