American Sociological Association

Habit and the Body: Lessons for Social Theories of Habit from the Experiences of People with Physical Disabilities

Habitual action has been an important concept in sociological theory insofar as it allows for a conceptualization of action that does not rely on paradigmatic loyalty to a rational decision-making subject. One insight from theories of habit that is of particular importance for understanding how habit structures experience is the idea that habits are always habits in a world: we act in a material environment that is itself constitutive of action. Relatively little attention, however, has been paid to the ways in which the material environment is preconfigured for action by particular forms of embodiment. Drawing on disability studies as well as an empirical consideration of the experiences of people with physical disabilities and the attendant service providers who work with them, we develop a model of habit that accounts for the variability in habit formation and maintenance that characterizes lived experience.

Download PDF


Athena Engman and Cynthia Cranford





Starting Page


Ending Page


Get Involved


ASA needs you to serve the discipline

Join a Section

Explore ASA's community of specialists in the discipline

Join ASA

Join or renew your membership