Practice Theory

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Practice theory refers to a theoretical approach to social phenomena which sought to resolve the antinomy between traditional structuralist approaches and approaches such as methodological individualism which attempted to explain all social phenomena in terms of individual actions.

Practice theory is strongly associated with the French theorist and sociologist Pierre Bourdieu. His concept of habitus represents an important formulation of the principles of practice theory. His book, ‘Outline of a Theory of Practice’, which is based on his work in Algeria during the Algerian War of Independence is an example of Bourdieu’s formulation of practice theory applied to empirical data gathered through ethnography. Other practice theorists include Lyotard, Giddens and Schatzki.

Practice theory is used to explain people’s behavior by means of putting the “practice” as first object of research. Meaning is formed by doing and not an independently state of mind.

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