Chapter 9

In the Habitus of the New

Structure, Agency, and the Social Media Habitus

Zizi Papacharissi and Emily Easton


Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are.

(Bertolt Brecht, Poems 1913–1956)

Change requires processes of both interruption and continuity in order to advance newer modes of doing. Breaks from practices of the past enable switching over to practices of the present and future. At the same time, a measure of stability helps individuals to integrate these practices into their everyday routines and reassures all that change is here to stay. Thus, gradual change stabilizes only to be again rearranged by the same processes of interruption and continuity that brought it into being. The dynamics of new media are founded upon the premise and the promise of constant change and permanent evolution. This chapter examines how the dynamics of new media interrupt and sustain the sociality of everyday life. We use Bourdieu's construct of the habitus to understand what sorts of social places the media of permanent novelty present and the texture of social dispositions these places invite. We also examine the practices that habituated dispositions cultivate and how those are engaged by communities of practice. Ultimately, we employ the concept of the habitus to trace how structure and agency are evoked and reconciled via the practices of everyday (mediated) sociality.

The habitus is perhaps one of Bourdieu's most popular ideas, developed to overcome ...

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