Bourdieu's First Year: First-Generation Students. Habitus, and Retention
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This presentation will investigate the use of theory, in particular Pierre Bourdieu’s Habitus, in researching library populations and developing a complex, multi-dimensional understanding of an important library community. By utilizing the framework of Habitus, we seek to investigate Pierre Bourdieu’s thesis of Habitus, which is to say, a social theory of determinism that centralizes behavior without essentializing groups. The aim of the project is to study first-generation students and the issue of retention. Habitus, in many respects, speaks to an unwritten language, sense, or code (le sens practique) in which certain members of a group are naturally and unconsciously conversant and which other members must constantly use cognitive energy to work within. The hope is to investigate some aspects of this language by studying both college-normative students (i.e., those for whom college was a foregone conclusion) and first-generation students to understand, perhaps, an aspect of the difference in experience and to use some of the findings to propose some sort of library intervention. Of interest to attendees: application of theory to a practice, new methods of analysis of library populations, sharing of research methods, and possibly issuing a call for papers for an edited monograph on this topic.