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Habitus and cognitive praxis among environmentalists

Research on social movements has looked primarily at activists involved in campaigns. Since the environmental movement has maintained that the everyday lifestyle of the citizen is part of the issue and part of the solution, we would do well to examine also these practices and what generates them. Using tools from Bourdieu's reflexive sociology, this study employs a method of analytic ethnography to consider how existing environmental "logic of practice" is informed by habitus. A logic of practice is the 'feel' for living (sens pratique) generated by internalized dispositions (habitus) and the social field. Another approach to explaining the operations of social movements, particularly for members, is that of "cognitive praxis." In this formulation by Eyerman and Jamison, social movements create new knowledge systems.

This research assesses the environmental habitus of environmentally active persons in a region. It finds a number of common dispositions, which are described as research themes. They tried to live environmentally-responsibly, but were aware of contradictions. The marginality of environmental activity, being different than the dominant ways of being in contemporary society, lead to self awareness. Thus, an environmental habitus could be said to include reflexivity, which appears to contradict the "pre-logical" description of the habitus. The research generated a model that links the sens pratique and cognitive praxis. Until the movement's core intentions, that of routinizing environmental sensitivity, is accomplished, reflexivity will be a core part of environmentally active persons practical logic.

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Randy Haluza-DeLay