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J.P.Roos and Anna Rotkirch

University of Helsinki
Department of Social Policy
(j.p.roos@helsinki.fi, anna.rotkirch@helsinki.fi)

Habitus, Evolution and the End of Social Constructionism

Paper to be presented in Working Group 21 “Teori och metodutveckling”, 
Nordic Sociology Conference Reykjavik, 15-17August 2002

   Presently there is a consensus among the social scientists that society is something that exists only through spoken and written communication and agreement between people. It is being continuously constructed so that the moment we do not construct our society, it disappears.  All that is real is constructed, to paraphrase Marx. When writing this, we happened to receive a just published research report emanating from the national pensions board, discussing different models of social policy in Europe. Its methodological chapter tells us happily that ”reality is socially constructed” with reference to Michel Foucault and Berger-Luckmann (see Niemelä - Salminen 2002, 19). Social scientists have gladly appropriated the “results” of philosophy, which seem to support the linguistic turn and give credence to ideas that truth and reality are mere figments of our imagination (e.g. Rorty, (vulgarised) Wittgenstein, (vulgarised) Foucault). In our own country, Finland, a recent book advocating a marriage between pragmatism and constructionism tells innocent sociologists that “tables, stars, electrons, people, academic disciplines, or any other things do not have more substance than numbers” (Kivinen-Ristelä 2000).

Thus a plastic, flexible view of society and human beings has replaced fixed causal models. Society is seen as absolutely social and malleable, in practice isolated from natural processes (or affecting the natural processes more than vice versa). Social scientists are themselves part of society and unable to make independent, objective observations. Social or natural facts have a minor role in research. Among evolutionary theorists, this has been called the Standard Social Science Model  (Tooby & Cosmides 1997, Wilson 1998). In this view, human beings are either born as a ‘blank slate’ and consciousness, habits and skills develop purely from social interaction, or the human psyche is understood as conforming to psychoanalytical ideas of development.   
This kind of constructionism is a relatively new concept in social sciences. When the senior author (JPR) began his career in the end of 1960's - when Berger-Luckmann (1966) had just been published - the central argument was about the differences between social and natural sciences and the so-called hermeneutic-phenomenological approach had only started its victory march through the social sciences. During this process one can say that most social scientists have renounced the causal model and the possibility of objective observations as a basis of sociological research and social decision-making. At the same time, such biologically based concepts as “instincts” lost their validity for social scientists (see e.g. Gerth-Mills (1954), for whom “instinct” was still a valid concept).  Nature became something unchanging and absolutely external which had little relevance to society, and therefore to the social sciences. Today, this idea uneasily coexists with view that even nature is socially constructed (see Eagleton 2000 for a critique of such one-sided reductionism.). The idea of a strong interaction between innate and acquired properties and of a causal precedence of various biological properties, or the view that many of our social activities can be traced back to hundreds of thousands, even millions of years, is strongly reprehensible for social scientists.

Social constructionism is assumed to give the social scientist maximum freedom and autonomy from all kinds of external restrictions. For instance, Risto Heiskala (2000) argues that if you have to choose between a social constructionist explanation and a biological explanation, you should choose the sociological unless the biological is absolutely proven, as that is supposed to give you more freedom to change. Note that this is not necessarily true: if everything is seen as completely free and unstructured, there is no possibility for cumulative theory-building or creative development based on previous structural rules. This a priori rejection of biological knowledge also means that social scientists have turned a blind eye towards the enormous accumulation of knowledge and theoretical advance which has taken places in the life sciences concerning the evolution of man, nature of consciousness, language etc.

However, as the famous hoax by Alan Sokal revealed, there is already a strong undercurrent against the prevailing constructionist and postmodernist tendencies. Sociologists seem to be rather alone in their counterintuitive views concerning the “social construction of reality”, even though for some of them this seems to be the only possible alternative (see eg. Hacking 1999, Corcuff 2000). As social scientists, we believe that we are bound by reality: truth is not something we can construct at will and even interpretations can be better or worse. We should try to weave the net of reality, slowly and persistently. Society is not a collective illusion, kept alive only by our common agreement. Sociologists have been told to sit on the shoulders of the giants (Weber, Marx, Durkheim etc) but this is futile unless we also use the work of the ‘ants’ - empirical scientists who collect facts/details - and build a common hive. The more cumulative social science becomes, the better.

Today, there are several possible alternatives to constructionism: critical realism, peircean pragmatism, philosophical phenomenology, various (psychological) theories of development or action, as well as what interests us here: a return to Edvard Westermarck and his evolutionary sociology. All these alternatives are already being pursued and it is clear that under the surface of constructionist consensus a lot is happening (see the recent article in favor of evolutionary sociology by the President of the American Sociological Association, Massey 2002). 
Nevertheless, as we all know, there has been an enormous debate which created an almost absolute Berlin wall between (progressive) sociologists and sociobiologists, or as they are now often called, evolutionary psychologists. It started with the publication of “Sociobiology” by E O Wilson (1975) and has continued with changing emphasis that (although it should be noted that the discussion concerning sociobiology has been strictly anticonstructionist, both sides of the debate are committed realists and want to ‘defend the truth’). Ullica Segerstråle (2001) has in a recent book followed the discussion and emphasized the permanence of the frontlines. It is important to notice, however, that the developments in evolutionary biology have been extraordinary since 1970's, so that the mostly speculative character of sociobiology has been transformed into both empirically and theoretically validated results. Many aspects of sexuality, parenthood, use of language in communication, emotions, even logical reasoning have been given a plausible evolution theoretical explanation of which sociologists are normally completely unaware or refuse to take into account. In fact, it is ironical that even as sociologists increasingly believe that “laws of nature” are socially constructed, the selfsame laws have taken over great parts of the sociological and social psychological playground - usually with more scientific and empirical evidence. (E.g. Wilson 1998, Pinker 1994, Hrdy 1999.)
From a sociological perspective, the ideological ‘wall’ shadows the fact that the field of research in human evolution has great ideological and theoretical differences. For instance, some scholars of genetic inheritance have searched for differences between human ‘races’ and nations and like to emphasize the genetic heritability of relatively fixed properties (such as intelligence), while evolutionary psychologist are more interested in the universal traits that are common to all human beings (such as eye sight or the emotion of love) (Cosmides & Tooby 1997, 15).
Much evolutionary writing has been made from a male and sexist perspective (for recent examples, see Ridley 1993, Browne 1998), but many of the most prominent voices today are explicitly pro-feminist (Hrdy 1999; Richards 2000; Miller 2001; Zuk 2002). All this “noise” notwithstanding, the advance of evolutionary theory in the social and biological sciences has been enormous. It shows, in our view quite convincingly, that our culture and our society are not so autonomous and self-sufficient as we like to believe. Neither are human behaviour or social interaction randomly or “freely” constructed. 
Acknowledging this should not mean that social determinism is exchanged for biological determinism. What is needed is serious theoretical and empirical work in order to confront and integrate the insights of evolutionary research with existing sociological knowledge. - as difficult as it may be, given the enormous prejudice against reductionism, genetic determinism, racism etc. (Indeed, the anxiety and rejection that has been caused by such evolutionary ideas as that of the ‘selfish gene’ is a reaction so strong and pertinent that it may well be formed by human evolution (Miller 2000, 135-137; cf Sarmaja (2001) on the evolution of the feeling of disgust.).)
In this paper, we will attempt to develop the concept of habitus of Pierre Bourdieu in the direction of evolutionary socilogy. First, however, a short discussion of the type of claims about human nature we think sociology needs to take into account and how it differs from conventional sociological writing about nature today. 

Basic principles of evolutionary theory

Most European sociologists probably agree that the
human body has developed through Darwinian natural selection. In secular understandings of human behaviour, the boundary between the standard social science model and evolutionary psychology is about the extent to which evolutionary processes can explain modern human beings (Richards 2000, 54-5). To most sociologists, the invention of technology and language has created an autonomous social reality, which has then evolved independently from human biology (eg Kaufmann 2000). In this quite dualist understanding our bodies evolved, but our minds are socially constructed. 
By contrast, in evolutionary theory the processes of natural selection have affected not only our bodies but also our emotions, character traits, choice mechanisms, forms of cooperation, etc. In this view, all usual and often occurring human behaviour has evolutionary roots, which are then showing more or less great variations in various societies. Or as Marlene Zuk puts it with regard to sexuality, 
“/An evolutionary perspective/ is not so different form the sociological attitude about homosexuality and gender having many manifestations in various cultures, but it acknowledges that organisms, both humans and non-humans, are biological entities, and any attempt to explain sexual behavior, even in its broadest sense, must be rooted in their biology.” (Zuk 2002, 183)
Even this moderate statement is too radical for much of social sciences. In a recent and much-cited work about the concept of nature, Darwin or Darwinism is not even mentioned in the index (Rofe 1995). In that and other works, ‘nature’ is something apart from human behaviour and assigned a monolithic, static and restricted role. For instance, Terry Eagleton (2000, 2001) emphasizes in his essay the interaction between nature and culture. Nevertheless, both the human body and the natural environment are treated only as material objects of the physical world, which should not be ignored.
“It is unclear what it means when it is claimed that giving blood or Mont Blanc are somehow cultural things. It is true that our concepts of giving blood and of Mont Blanc, with all their different meanings, are cultural, but this a mere tautology, for what else could a concept be?” (Eagleton 2001, 114)
The biological evolution of human beings has taken place from 6 million to 100 000 yeas ago. Depending on an ability or aptitude, various traits have developed at a different time. Our eyes have evolved as a function of light conditions of the earth during millions of years whereas participant fatherhood would seem to be “only” two million years old (Tooby&Cosmides 2001,12) The ‘environment’ during which a specific feature developed is called the environment for evolutionary adaptedness, EEA.
The human practices that were selected by evolution are those that helped maximize the number of surviving progeny. Such practices include what is usually understood as ‘natural selection’, ie overcoming environmental dangers and risks. However, sexual and parental selection also played a crucial role (Miller 2000; Hrdy 1999). Female (and male) choice for sexual partners and female choice of infants probably shaped the way adults and babies look and behave, although many of those properties are not directly needed for survival (eg male breast hair or infant chubbiness).
To return to Eagleton, his essay notes that culture and nature are intertwined but still bypasses the essential idea of Darwinist evolution - the logic of innate abilities. Thus he can approvingly refer to an author who says that New Yorkers are as close to the nature as primitive tribes, because cultural and social is also nature. Here he again bypasses the basic proposition of evolution theory, namely, that the evolutionary adaptive environment where our social behaviour has been developed was the prehistoric gatherer-hunter society. Thus primitive people (or Nordic summer cottage living) are actually much closer to nature and the natural environment of human beings than for instance New York (and this also shows in the existence of panic or eating disorders related to “unnatural” social situations).
An evolutionary adaptive practice - which we here refer to as innate behavioral dispositions, or aptitudes of action - is a descriptive, not a normative term. Love, rape, solidarity, infidelity or lying are all innate aptitudes for emotion and action, but this does not mean that they are automatically morally acceptable. An adaptive practice can be non-adaptive in the modern world (eg our preference for sweets), or compete with other practices (over-eating vs. need to be fit).
Evolutionary adaptive practices can be both conscious and unconscious. For instance, it has been profitable for women to restrict the number of her children in order to improve the chances of their survival. The different ways of doing this range from intentional actions (even killing or abandoning weak children) to instinctive ones, such as long breast feeding that prevents conception.
Many types of behaviour have also developed for a specific purpose, but are used for other things, which may have or have not become adaptive in their turn. Writing and reading are paradigmatic examples of behaviour that have not evolved evolutionarily. (This explains, for instance, why people who read and write all day long still tend to dream very little of such activities, whereas evolutionarily adaptive practices  - responses to different threats - are much more common in dreams (Revonsuo 2000).) Finally, one should not mix evolutionary function with content. For instance, some behaviour may have been selected because it attracted mates (eg talking), but that does not mean the behaviour itself always is or feels ‘sexual’ (Miller 2000, 274-275).
Eagleton correctly criticizes the illusion already referred to above that nature is problematic because it is more difficult to change it. He takes example of the destruction of the rain forests, which is relatively easy with modern machines, while such cultural phenomena as sexual discrimination are much more difficult to change. However, here Eagleton forgets that the evolutionary explanation of the origin of sexual discrimination by way of different sexual and parental strategies gives a very plausible explanation for the “permanence” of sexual discrimination. To work against this inequality is however not “unnatural”; it simply helps to know the basic reasons and mechanisms. To take into consideration innate models of activity is therefore different from accepting nature as a fact. 

Life stories and modular abilities 

Thus an evolutionary perspective agrees with Eagleton (2001) and many others in that the evolution of human species presupposes education and culture. In all human activity the innate and learned, ‘natur’ and ‘culture’ are intertwined. But evolutionary thought stresses that also these two aspects are in reality inseparable, they are not identical and do not follow the same rules. Zuk (2002, *) takes the example of a violin player. It is ridiculous to debate about what is making the music – the violin or the player. Nevertheless, when comparing two violinists performing the same peace of music one can well discuss whether differences are due to the player’s skills or to the instrument.
In the same way, we know that language is both innate and learned. We can also analyse which structures of language acquisition are innate and universal and which are culturally specific. In Pinker’s (1994) view, language is largely a “natural” process in which the child leans to speak because he or she has been wired to do so and where language develops, not because of imitation and repetition but because of innate rules that the child uses as a response of social interaction. This claim rests on studies of children in exceptional situation, such as those learning sign language with parents who can hear, or slave children in boats where the language of communication was extremely primitive. In both cases children “create” the language and make it much more complete and functional than the original model.  The point is that children have innate rules according to which the language develops. This means that language, this social artefact par excellence, which has become so central even in social science, is never only a social construction..
This goes even more for non-verbal communication which even more heritable. Thus the wide-spread thought that only when we express something in language we produce society,  is seriously erroneous. Semiosis does have its uses, but it does not produce society. (Ironically, preference for language and spoken thought is a middle class phenomenon and can partly be explained from and evolutionary perspective (it is connected to sexual selection and social status), Miller 2001).
Another popular example among evolution theory is the Wason-test (see Cosmides&Tooby 2001) where the same problem presented in different forms, highly abstract or a problem concerning a social contract leads to completely different results. Our brains have evolved to solve social contractual problems, reveal attempts at deception, but not for logical deduction. It is possible for us, but not “natural”. Learning usually takes place through concrete examples.
A final, important example is the life story (see also Roos 2002). The going position is that autobiographies (here we are assuming that “graphy” does not refer to writing only) have been born with Rousseau’s Confessions. In the beginning, Rousseau tells us that he is embarking on a project which nobody else before him has done, and this claim has been since taken at face value. It is based on the belief that not only written life stories, but individuality and a conception of singular life has developed only in connection with modernisation of society and entails a completely new relationship of the individual to her or his life. Previously, this view goes, it would have been impossible to present an autobiography in the sense of a coherent life story, only disparate memoirs connected to the same person.
Nevertheless, there are two reasons why this is not so, one internal and one external. The internal reason is narrativity - the fundamental principles of narration that have existed long before written language was created. The external reason is the fact that we do not seem to have any difficulty to understand extremely various autobiographies. Take an autobiography of a concentration camp inmate in Auschwitz or an autobiography of a woman belonging to a man-eating tribe. Both represent experiences are totally foreign to a modern, Nordic educated person living a protected and risk free life, but both nevertheless completely understandable for us and open our eyes to very different situations in life. 
Why is this so? From the perspective of evolutionary theory the explanation is quite clear. We all have universal abilities and aptitudes which have remained unchanged a very long time and that frame our emotional reactions, the nature of our interactions (life in a concentration camp might actually be quite close to life in very hostile surroundings, where it is impossible to find food and where only very close persons can be trusted and anybody else can be a mortal danger). 
The idea that a life story becomes possible only in the end of the eighteenth century Europe is in this light absurd. On the contrary, there is good reason to think that our forefathers in the African savannah or North European cave, long before they started to write, have been telling stories about their life. Maybe the distinctions between life of a group and one’s individual life were not so clear cut, but the rudiments of life story must have existed at least during the past 50 000 to100 000 years. The telling of life stories probably helped not only information exchange, but also sexual success. Or, as Geoffrey Miller suggests, 
“Within minutes of boy meets girl, boy and girl typically know each other’s names, geographical origins, and occupations. ... Language made each individual’s entire history a part of their ‘extended phenotype’ in courtship. Like our body ornaments, our pasts became part of our sexual displays. ... sexual selection could favour any mental trait that tended to produce an attractive past.” (Miller 2000, 362-364.)
 The famous list presented by Steven Pinker concerning all that is NOT socially constructed, but according to Pinker a “modular” part of a person’s habitus, which is activated at given moments, concretizes in an extreme way the situation of social sciences vs. evolutionary psychology:
1. Intuitive mechanics
(we are supposed to know that movement is linear, that one moving thing affects another if it hits it etc)
2. Intuitive biology
(we can distinguish living from non living, we understand intuitively how plants and animals work)
3. Numbers and counting
4. Mental maps of large areas
5. Choice of habitat, preference for safe and information-rich, productive environments  (savannah-like)
6. Danger, emotion of fear, phobias for heights, poisonous and predatory animals etc. 
7. Food, what is good to eat
8. Contamination, including feeling of disgust, intuition about contagion and disease
9. Monitoring of one’s own well-being, recognition of emotions of sorrow, happiness, moods of contentment and restlessness 
10. Intuitive psychology, prediction of other people’s behaviour, lies and deceptions
11. A kind of mental Rolodex, individuals relatives, status, exchange of services, weighting of different abilities
12. Self-concept, self-analysis and self-presentation
13 Sense of justice, rights, duties
14. Kinship, nepotism, allocation of parenting effort
15 Love sex, jealousy, fidelity, desertion
(Pinker 1994, 465-466, cf Cosmides-Tooby 1997)
It is clear that even if only half of this list would be true, it would have revolutionary consequences to modern constructionist sociology. Yet most of it seems to be empirically provable through child research and ethnographic research. And it does not contain even all of the relatively undisputed results of evolutionary theory, such the avoidance of incest (the so-called Westermarck effect), which has been proven by secondary analysis of a series of studies of primitive tribes. Nor does Pinker list dreams, which are also nowadays explainable from an evolutionary perspective.
It is always possible that the evolutionary explanations are revealed as erroneous and mistaken. An example of a mistaken theory of evolutionary thought is for example the central role of men as family supporters in early tribal societies. Recent research indicates that the women, both in childbearing age and after menopause, were probably much more important in food provision while hunting was more connected to power, status and sexual selection than to securing food (Hrdy 1999). This has been shown by observing hunter-gatherer societies and apes in a systematic way and testing hypotheses based on extensive empirical material.
In most cases, however, even though we cannot always know how things were, we can still be absolutely certain that at least the constructionist alternative is not possible (i.e. we may know that something has existed long before cultural transmission evolved). We human beings do not live in a postmodern state of insecurity and pure choice or pure relationships, in which a new kind of risk consciousness has done havoc to our time conception so that we cannot have any expectations concerning the future or connections to the past, but live only in the present, with a totally new sense of self and of others (see e.g. Bauman 2002).

Bourdieu from an evolutionary perspective

In our discussion of some basic principles of evolutionary theory, we have not taken into consideration the more complicated and open aspects of human evolution: is evolution still going on, where does it take place (in genes, in individuals, in whole species or on all of these levels), what aspects have evolved because of mere chance instead of natural selection, how do genes actually influence human action etc. We wish to emphasize that it is precisely the interaction of “culture” and “nature” which has led to the fact that human beings are extremely adaptive and many sided - thanks to their aptitudes of action created by evolution. 
What would be a social science like which would take into account the innate dispositions, habitudes and activities, i.e. which would accept the evolutionary principles also in the case of human beings?  In our view, there is already a theory, which is potentially suitable for evolutionary thought, namely the sociology of Pierre Bourdieu. Above, we already likened Pinker’s use of “modular innate traits” to a person’s habitus, one of the key concepts in Bourdieu’s theory, defined as the structured structure, which is both dispositions of action and incorporated habits.    
Bourdieu has been often accused of many of the same things as the sociobiologists and he himself has liked to emphasize the natural science quality of his work: looking for exact causes, striving for exact determination of cause and effect, etc, speaking of fields and their forces like some kind of laws of nature etc.
Bourdieu is often seen, however as a pure constructionist whose views are fully in line with modern sociology (see eg Corcuff 2000, Rahkonen 1999). When Bourdieu discusses fields and power, the agents are often seen as constructing the field by themselves and just losing sight of this, lacking reflexivity. In one of his last books, La domination masculine, the descriptions are explicitly constructionist: femininity and masculinity are socially constructed, there is nothing natural in the original distinctions made by the Algerian kabyls whom Bourdieu studied long ago and who presented a division of north and south, good and bad, strong and weak, dry and wet, male and female. (Bourdieu 1998, see the chapter Social construction of the body).
At the same time, Bourdieu is extremely critical against the postmodernist constructionism, especially its French variants. Thus he submits Latour and Woolgar under a really violent critique in his latest, posthumous volume Science de la science et reflexivité. (Bourdieu 2001, see also Bourdieu & Wacquant 2001).  In fact, in this work Bourdieu formulates very clearly his opposition to « idealistic » constructionism : « La science est une construction qui fait emerger une decouverte inrreductible à la construction et aux conditions sociales (sic) qui l’ont rendue possible (Science is a construction which makes possible discoveries which cannot be reduced to the construction or to the social conditions which made it possible)» In Bourdieu’s view the solution is a « realistic rationalism » which holds that scientific constructions are the condition of arriving at the « real », a discovery (Bourdieu 2001, 151).  
The theoretical setting in Bourdieu’s work could be described by saying that he treats people sociologically essentially from an evolutionary point of view, i.e. as agents who do what they do on the basis of given social modules (habituses) instinctively and according to certain rules. Bourdieu’s terminology can be usefully compared with that of Richard Dawkins who uses “conscious” terminology (strategy, interests, profits) in a context where everything is based on predetermined, largely unconscious activities where profits accrue to those who best are adapted to the rules of the field.  
For Bourdieu, social laws were independent, objective forces, which could be subverted only when we know how they work (he could even describe his own tastes as precisely those of his own class and social group, i.e. a highly educated person with a petty bourgeois, rural background) and subverted socially, not trough individual action.
The essential difference to evolution theory is quite simply that Bourdieu keeps all this strictly inside the borders of sociology. No non-sociological influences are, in a sense, included in Bourdieu’s theory (with the exception of philosophy and ethnology, i.e classical sociology)..
To our knowledge, Bourdieu did not make a reference to evolutionary psychology, except in a derisive manner. Society produces the body, domination and subordination. Thus, in Domination masculine, the male domination is portraid as purely social. Already the sexual division in a physical sense is understood as an arbitrary, social construction. Male domination structures are arbitrarily created and mythically strengthened. The terminology, male power over women, are all evolved inside society, historically but not biologically  (“Ce programme social de perception incorporé s’applique a toutes les chose du monde, et en premier lieu au corps lui-meme, dans sa realité biologique” Bourdieu 1998, 16) In other words, an evolutionary basis of such differences in habits and activity aptitudes that would be expressed as clearly sexual differences is completely out of question. 
On the other hand, thematic and symbolic differences are central, so that the origin of concepts and conceptual systems are discussed at length. Words are magic (and even women use a male terminology in speaking of sexually less worthy men as soft, hanging). Even such physical differences as those between sexual organs are a social construction. Linguistic terminology is given great importance. For instance, Bourdie draws far-reaching conclusions of the French expression “serrer la ceinture”, although it does not have sexual connotations in all languages (the same expression in Finnish only relates to hunger).
 Bourdieu liked to use the term “symbolic violence”, with which he means a continuous process of reproduction where domination is reproduced through physical and symbolic violence. Just this kind of conception would fit quite well to evolution, although that obviously was outside Bourdieu’s horizon. He is a good example of the situation, where it in a sense is a question of honour for sociology not to bring anything in outside one’s own discipline, but to think that sociology should be able explain to everything. This is unfortunate in Bourdieu’s case, because his system is like made for an analytical inclusion of elements from evolutionary theory. And even more unfortunate is that Bourdieu, like many other sociologists, refers freely to psychoanalysis as a basis for some of his sociological interpretations concerning identity, while the much more plausible and scientific explanations from evolution theory remain completely foreign for him. The numerous references of Bourdieu to Nancy Chodorow for instance do not prevent him to place all his interpretations inside sociology. Virility is a relational concept, the function of which is to show other men and subordinate women because men are afraid of women and themselves (Bourdieu 1998, 59)
In terms of evolution theory, this explanation can be accepted as a proximate cause. But there is also an ultimate cause for the fact that males have developed such a psychic structure. This ultimate cause is that it has been in the interest of a male to produce as many offspring with such women whose survival potential is greatest. In addition, it is important to make sure that the offspring is really that man’s and nobody else’s. 
However, these two explanations are not necessarily exclusive, or even in contradiction with each other. Together, they would make many strange qualities of the Kabyle society understandable, whereas Bourdieu now has to resort to truly metaphysical explanations (the distribution of labour between sexes determines biological differences, e.g. the penis ) or to question-begging or circular explanations (men are controlling women because they are afraid of them (Bourdieu 1999,59) “for legitimate behavior, there are only circular definitions”, cited in Kaufmann 2001, 138)). 

Habitus I and Habitus II  

Jean-Claude Kaufmann has in his book Ego (2001) presented and interesting critical evaluation of Bourdieu’s habitus. He points out the attempt of Bourdieu to get rid of the ordinary habit, the French habitude, and select the concept of habitus, which represented a sort of empty table. In the case of both ‘habit’ and ‘habitude’ it is a question of a “quasi-nature”, in the centre of the theatre of reproduction (Kaufmann 2001, 138)? In this sense habitus is also the opposite of life politics, where people are supposed to make freely strategic policy choices concerning their own lives.. 
Kaufmann distinguishes between two habitus theories, one general and one particular. The general theory, “Habitus I”, presents habitus as a generative principle of practices. Here the habitus has an independent autonomous status, which comes close to metaphysics. In this perception of the habitus, Kaufmann notes that Bourdieu sometimes even uses the habitus in the third person, as ‘he’ who is or is not. Habitus I can be found mainly in Sens pratique (Bourdieu 1980) and other early Kabyle studies.
A second theory of habitus, habitus II presents several, layered habituses, a sort of Calder mobile in which every specific field has its own habitus. Habitus II does not generate practices in the manner of habitus I. Instead, the field determines the habituses. The emphasis is therefore on how social structures influence individual bodies and habits.
Habituses may therefore be very different and variable. The schemes relative to habitus may vary, so that the generic habitus and the specific habitus may get into conflict. The essential difference between these two is that in the general theory of habitus (I), habitus organize structures, which generate practices, while in the specific theory of habitus (II), habitus itself is generated by the structures. To avoid this, Bourdieu often speaks about habitus as a structuring structure, but in Kaufmann’s view he still has to choose between either position, depending on the situation and research object. In Domination masculine Kaufmann sees a total combination of both theories at work, but so that in the end habitus I wins, simply because Bourdieu uses the Kabyle material (Kaufmann 2001, 138-140). 
In fact, habitus is a good example of a sociological concept, which is not very reasonable/workable, if we are content with simply social science explanations.  We can speak of a “black box”, in which unity and permanence of the person are contained (Corcuff 1999, 110). It tries to solve the dilemma between structure and agency by the classic Münchausen method, but this simply cannot work. Instead, in practice, it emphasizes either structure or agency depending of the situation. The end result is tautological, because no new elements are brought into the equation (it is underdetermined, as econometricians say). 
As an alternative, we could treat habitus as something between nature and culture, as a meeting point of the two in the sense that habitus contains both extremely permanent elements of human nature and the variability brought about by cultural and social adaptation. In this view, the habitus I, or  the general habitus would consist of those structuring principles which are largely innate dispositions. For instance, men and women have somewhat different habituses from birth. The more specific habitus, habitus II, would include the predominantly cultural and social influence, in the form of class, education, taste, i.e., the classical sociological concepts, which we can never dispense with. 
This kind of combination of the theory of evolution and Bourdieu would, in our view, constitute an important step forward in the process of regaining the lost unity of explanation of human life sciences.  (An aside: in the recent Finnish translation of Thomas Aquinas’ Summa theologiae, habitus is described as - quoting Aristotle – “dispositions organized according to nature” (see 2002, 519), i.e. exactly this kind of conception!)
Habitus 1, the general theory would be evolutionary in nature whereas habits II, the specific theory, would cover the mechanisms according to which the general dispositions are transformed into field-specific dispositions. I.e., deal with the eternal problem of seeing the relevance of the 100 000 prehistory of human beings with all the qualities o modern human beings. Crucially, the habitus of every individual is really one whole habitus, with habituses I and II mingled in unique and manifold ways.
After this, if would be easy to say that the general habitus generates structures and is historically antecedent to any kinds of modern social structures. Thus habitus is at the origin of any specific constellation of fields. There are thus general properties that every field will have to take into account, such as shame, loyalty, friendship, competition etc. But if the field has to do with cultural modernisation, we can predict which kinds of habituses and habitus dispositions are better adapted to modern field structures on the basis of the knowledge we have of the “universal” habitus propensities. As always, habitus is not completely malleable. 
A counterexample often presented by critics of evolution theory is that there is no universal family form but immense variation (eg Rose & Rose 2001). We agree, but nevertheless the variation can often be better explained starting from the basic habitus dispositions. For instance, there is a logic which predicts a correlation between equality in decision-making and family forms. (The more equal the society, the more probable is that every man can get a woman, while hierarchical, undemocratic societies tend to have males who have access to many women, and males with no women at all, Ridley 1993).
Thus it is no longer as contradictory to say that social structures define specific habituses in interaction with the general habitus. Social structures have their own autonomy, history and internal logic (although not as complete as sociologists prefer to think). There ARE (mostly) non-evolutionary spheres of life, for instance in law, politics, taxation and the development of the European Union. 
Nikolas Rose (2001), a foucaldian theorist of life politics speaks of “bare life” and “politics of life itself” meaning “natural”, non-social human qualities (the bare life refers to Agamben’s nuda vita). This concept reveals nicely the basic dilemma of constructionist social science: man is thought to have permanent, non-social characteristics, which are not sociologically relevant because they do not change. Of course it is a sociological relevant problem to act upon these “bare” characteristics socially. But if we include both nature and culture, body and mind, innate and learned in the same habitus, then we can have a means to develop a dynamic and to all sides open theory of human agency and dispositions.
Pragmatist sociologists, such as Kivinen and Ristelä (2000), look for this kind of transcendence of “nature” and “society” by the Deweyan concept of habit, which they see as disposition (luontumus) and actually very close to the Bourdieusian habitus (169-173). We symphatize with this view, although with the (major) reservation that the Rortyan tabular rasa conception of human nature is not compatible with the deweyan habit or the kind of habitus proposed by us.
Evolutionary theory teaches us that human beings do not have many generic, non-social characteristics but that also the innate characteristics have been developed in specific social situations and that their functioning is impossible to understand when abstracted from this context. Learning is not general learning but always situation specific, drawing conclusions is also situation specific (cf the Wason test) and humans have learned under evolution to use their capacities in specific contexts. These contexts had originally to do with surviving, mating and partner selection, and parenting. We have tended to overestimate in primitive partner selection such capacities as force, ability to hunt etc. whereas the properly social and interactive capacities, talking, intelligent communication, self-representation and revealing of the other’s real nature (i.e. seeing through deceptive representations), have been much underestimated. (For instance, it now seems that the extraordinary evolution of human brain is connected mainly with mating behavior and competition, Ridley 1993; Miller 2002.) This means that there is no “bare” or “pure” life but even the society is in our genes, in the nature. On the other hand we can never treat nature as something permanent, fixed, but only as changing, both generally (evolution) and specifically (in situational adaptation). The human ability to adapt and to reflect is an evolutionary adaptation.
Arto Noro (2002, 59) recently tried to scare Finnish sociologists that the alternative to “blinker sociology” (i.e. sociology which ignores the ”non-social”) is only economics without society or the savannah stage of biologism. This is in our view misleading. If we abstract from economism, the possibilities vary between a constructionist, restricted and narrow sociology and a more realistic conception of society, which emphasizes the interconnections of nature and society.
Still, one of the more fascinating things in evolution is the extreme timelessness of the change and its unbelievable delays. Our general habitus dates from at least 100 000 years ago, and the changes that have taken place during the past 200 years (i.e. modernisation and postmodernity) have not affected this fundamental habitus – although of course the strategies and means open for us. To develop these strategies it helps to understand the basic logic of how we function. The savannah stage is and will be the starting point for the reality of being human, even though our present reality cannot be reduced to the savannah people.


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