habitus. Appropriated by the French sociologist of culture and education, Pierre Bourdieu (1930- ) from, in his own account, the tradition of Aristotle, Aquinas and figures in European philosophy, including Hegel and Durkheim. Bourdieu defines habitus as 'a durable, transposable system of definitions' acquired initially by the young child in the home as a result of the conscious and unconscious practices of her/his family (1992: 134). This comprises the 'primary habitus'. Subsequently this is transformed into a secondary, tertiary or further habitus by the child's passage through different social institutions, principally schooling. This developed habitus contains within it, however, as Bourdieu makes clear, the characteristics of early socialization in the home and family which persist as 'the basis of all subsequent experiences . . . fror restructuring to restructuring' (1992: 134).

Bourdieu's notion of structure implies a flexible idea of determination. The habitus is both structured and structuring. It is the consequence of an individual's family, class position, status, education, ideology and distinctive tastes (derived from the individual histories of its contributing members) and might also be more broadly derived from a common historically produced set of dispositions on the part of a particular social or ethnic group. As Bourdieu writes, 'The habitus - embodied history, internalized as second nature and so forgotten as history - is the active presence of the whole past of which it is the product' (1990: 56).

At the same time this acquired configuration is open to creative variation as the individual meshes with a relatively stable common habitus and conducts this forward. The individual's habitus therefore emerges from a dialogue with a family, ethnic, class-based or gendered collective habitus in an evolving process of structuration and restructuration which shapes individual and social mobility.

The habitus is therefore a generative rather than a fixed system: a basis from which endless improvisations can derive; a 'practical mastery' of skills, routines, aptitudes and assumptions which leave the individual free to make (albeit limited) choices in the encounter with new environments or fields. As in a sport or jazz, in Bourdieu's favoured analogies, mastery of the rules or an instrument gives a 'feel for the game' which enables individuals to improvise in response to the circumstances of the moment. As in these cases, habitus, in a important emphasis, is also 'embodied', articulated in body language and gesture across an entire range of concrete behaviours, from patterns of consumption to decisions as to how to use one's time. [Brooker, 1999]