Bourdieu’s theory of practice in the study
of cultural encounters and transnational
transfers in migration

by Magdalena Nowicka (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

Working Papers WP 15-01
March 2015
ISSN 2192-2357 (MMG Working Papers Print)

Full text: pdf

This working paper provides the theoretical reflections and research objectives of the ongoing project Transforming Migration: Transnational Transfer of Multicultural Habitus. It develops the proposal of applying Bourdieu’s theory of practice in studying intercultural skills of migrants and the mechanisms of their transfer to the space of origin of migrants. Conceptual merits and challenges of working with Bourdieu’s intellectual heritage are discussed and illustrated with preliminary results from the project’s first phase. The paper argues that Bourdieu’s theory allows us to see the dispositions, attitudes, worldviews and practices that people display as processes rather than individual qualities, which need to be considered within a complex system of power relations between migrants, their host societies, and their transnationally spanning social networks.

Keywords: Pierre Bourdieu, Theory of Practice, Migrant Transnationalism, Cultural Encounters, Diversity.        

Magdalena Nowicka (Dr. Phil.) is professor of Migration and Transnationalism at the Institute of Social Sciences, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and a principal investigator of the ERC funded project TRANSFORmIG. She is member of the Berlin Institute for Integration and Migration Research (BIM). She holds degrees from the Universities of Warsaw, Krakow, and Munich. 2010-2013 she was research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen. Her latest book is The Ashgate Research Companion on Cosmopolitanism (Farnham 2011, with Maria Rovisco). Currently she is working on a book on Conviviality (with Tilmann Heil, DeGruyter Open, forthcoming 2016).