Between reflexivity and habits: sociological theory of everyday life
Social Sciences Department (Wydzial Nauk Spolecznych) Institute of Sociology (Instytut Socjologii) Poznan, Poland
Reflexivity has become one of the key terms in contemporary sociology. Like many other concepts which gained a huge popularity it has been sometimes subjected to trivialization and treated as a synonym of various modernisation processes, increasing flexibility of many lifestyles or taken for granted as a defining characteristic of modernity or postmodernity.
Yet, what seems to be crucial are detailed analysis of situations and contexts in which reflexivity is indeed activated. Actions which rest on an advanced level of reflexivity are very important but quantitatively minor category of human activity in comparison to those which are based on various embodied operational schemata ? habits or routines (Jean-Claude Kaufmann), embedded in the relation between actor and familiar material surroundings. As already Berger and Luckmann argued, the basic human pursuit is the ?routinisation? of various areas of life and ? what Mary Douglas illustrates ? ordering the image of the world and reducing its complexity. Therefore, the increased capability for reflexivity, crucial for human beings, turns out to be predominantly an effect of a clash: (a) of more than one operational schema; (b) of a fragile, not fully internalized schema and an idea of an alternative way of action or (c) of schemata of two or more people. The probability of such a clash increases along with an increasing degree of inconsistency of knowledge in a given group/society. It is the high number of social tensions and discrepancies ? inconsistency of some logics of thinking and acting internalized by the actors ? that is responsible for increased reflexivity. What seems to be crucial for the analysis of reflexivity is the very analysis of those inconsistencies: contexts in which they arise and the strategies adopted by actors to cope with them.
The aim of my presentation is to discuss this theoretical model, based mainly on Jean-Claude Kaufmann works and to illustrate it by empirical findings from Kaufmann?s studies on intimate relationships and housework, as well as some German and Polish studies concerning sociology of intimacy and finally ? empirical findings from cognitivistic studies on theory of action and intelligence.