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Transforming Habit: Revolution, Routine and Social Change

Pedwell, Carolyn (2017) Transforming Habit: Revolution, Routine and Social Change. Cultural Studies, 31 (1). pp. 93-120. ISSN 0950-2386. E-ISSN 1466-4348. (doi:10.1080/09502386.2016.1206134) (KAR id:55974)

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Compelling recent scholarly work has explored the crucial role affect, emotion and feeling might play in activating radical social and political change. I argue, however, that some narratives of ‘affective revolution’ may actually do more to obscure than to enrich our understanding of the material relations and routines though which ‘progressive’ change might occur and endure in a given context – while side-stepping the challenge of how to evaluate progress itself in the current socio-political and economic landscape. Drawing on the work of Eve Sedgwick, John Dewey, Felix Ravaisson and others, this article asks whether critical work on habit can provide different, and potentially generative, analytical tools for understanding the contemporary ethical and material complexities of social transformation. I suggest that it habit’s double nature – its enabling of both compulsive repetition and creative becoming – that makes it a rich concept for addressing the propensity of harmful socio-political patterns to persist in the face of efforts to generate greater awareness of their damaging effects, as well as the material forms of automation and coordination on which meaningful societal transformation may depend. I also explore how bringing affect and habit together might productively refigure our understandings of ‘the present’ and ‘social progress’, as well as the available modes of sensing, instigating and responding to change. In turning to habit, then, the primary aim of this article is to examine how social and cultural theory might critically re-approach social change and progressive politics today.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/09502386.2016.1206134
Uncontrolled keywords: Affect, empathy, habit, social change, John Dewey, Eve Sedgwick
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research > Sociology
Depositing User: Carolyn Pedwell
Date Deposited: 17 Jun 2016 14:00 UTC
Last Modified: 24 Jan 2020 12:42 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Pedwell, Carolyn:
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