Reading and (re)writing the city: The use of the habitus concept in urban research and development

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingMeeting abstract (Book)


The paper illustrates how the habitus concept developed by Pierre Bourdieu, can be used as tool for urban research, urban renewal and development. The habitus, defined as a set of unconscious schemes that structure our situation-specific ways of thinking, perceiving and acting acquired during childhood, encodes praxis but praxis can mold habitus as well. The article uses the habitus concept within the map-metaphor: we read and write the city as we have learned to think, speak and behave in (class- and culture-)specific ways. The map we learned to use, structures our reading of the city; the way we act and behave in the urban environment, affects the map(s) we use. The paper describes how the concept of Bourdieu can be modulated towards a more place-specific and less deterministic concept. In order to discover and implement a place-specific habitus, an interactive phase is added into the practice of urban studies. Especially in longer research periods, the provisional findings (the rough maps !) can be discussed with people from the hood, both professionals and citizens. This layout proved to be a good scenario for deconstructing all kinds of beliefs peoples apparently have and simultaneously design a new set of assumptions that provides better policies. As the local habitus becomes more conscious, the urban development can become more sustainable in return.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDoing, thinking, feeling home: the mental geography of residential environments’,
Place of PublicationDelft (the Netherlands)
PublisherOTB Delft
Publication statusPublished - 2005
EventUnknown -
Duration: 1 Jan 2005 → …


Period1/01/05 → …


  • social sustainability


Dive into the research topics of 'Reading and (re)writing the city: The use of the habitus concept in urban research and development'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this