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When he died in 2008, Ted Rogers Jr., then CEO of Rogers Communications, was the fifth-wealthiest individual in Canada, holding assets worth .7 billion.
The French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu (1930-2002) defined ones habitus as the deeply seated schemas, habits, feelings, dispositions, and forms of know-how that people hold due to their specific social backgrounds, cultures, and life experiences (1990).
Bourdieu referred to it as ones “feel for the game,” to use a sports metaphor.
It refers to a situation in which the divisions and relationships of social inequality have solidified into a system that determines who gets what, when, and why.
You may remember the word “stratification” from geology class.
The consequence of that was to fall into a lifestyle that led to joining a gang, being kicked out of school, developing issues with addiction, and eventually getting arrested and incarcerated.
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Unlike Ted Rogers, however, the inmate added, “I didn’t grow up with the best life” (CBC, 2010). Canada is supposed to be a country in which individuals can work hard to get ahead. There are no formal or explicit class, gender, racial, ethnic, geographical, or other boundaries that prevent people from rising to the top. But does this adequately explain the difference in life chances that divide the fortunes of the Aboriginal youth from those of the Rogers family? And how does social standing direct or limit a person’s choices?
However, when a social category like class, occupation, gender, or race puts people in a position in which they can claim a greater share of resources or services, then social differentiation becomes the basis of social inequality.
The term social stratification refers to an institutionalized system of social inequality.
Street smarts define their habitus and exercise a profound influence over the range of options that are available for them to consider — the neighborhoods they know to avoid, the body languages that signal danger, the values of illicit goods, the motives of different street actors, the routines of police interactions, etc.
The habitus affects both the options to conform to the group they identify with or deviate from it.