MIA: Encyclopedia of Marxism: Glossary of Terms




A term used by Pierre Bourdieu to mean the unifying principle which generates the tastes, dispositions, preferences, body-language, prejudices, etc., characteristic of a given class or class fraction, across all the different fields of practice – art appreciation, making conversation, life-style, eating, etc., etc.. It is the acquisition of a class habitus which gains an individual recognition as a member of a given class, and determines their likely place and trajectory in social hierarchies. According to Bourdieu’s analysis, the habitus better defines class and class relations and how they are constituted, than a person's formal relation to the means of production, even though class itself remains defined in terms of location within the labour process.

Habitus is the Latin translation of the Greek hexis (exiς) by which Aristotle meant those acquired virtues which were the prerequisites for a virtuous life: temperance, fortitude, justice and prudence. St. Thomas Aquinas used the term to refer to accomplishments in art, science, understanding and philosophy, necessary for participation in society. The term was introduced to modern usage by the anthropologist Marcel Mauss (best known for his work, The Gift) to mean those aspects of culture that are anchored in the body or daily practices of individuals and groups, including the learned habits, bodily skills, styles, tastes, and other non-discursive knowledges that “go without saying” for a specific group.

Habitus, in the original Aristotlean sense, differs from ‘habit’, a word which originally referred to the clothing characteristic of one’s social position, but came to refer to the whole way one carried and presented oneself to the world, and eventually “habit” in the common sense of actions carried out without thinking. The term “habit,” had acquired all these nuances in the Latin languages before the word entered the English language.



The most knowledgable computer users, with the goal above all else to learn more and share that knowledge with others. Unlike the average computer user who seeks to learn only the immediately necessary, hackers continually expand their knowledge of systems and their own capabilities within them. Hackers, unlike traditional academia, continually apply their knowledge through constant (obsessive) programming. Hackers are often mislabelled, with their name used to describe the practices of crackers (those who break into computer systems to steal or destroy).

The capitalist press (and authorities in general) lambast hackers as disenfranchised youth (sometimes calling them mentally derranged), troublemakers, vandals, and thieves. Hackers in essence are anti-property because their ethics and practices are based on an implementation of full freedom of information – spanning from full disclosure of all computer programs (Open Source) to the less common hactivism which preaches full transparency in government (cracking government systems and sharing with all classified information). While some hackers object to this essence, most work towards open source, forming or contributing to massive community projects like GNU (Linux, Debian, etc), and spreading their open source culture by concrete, extremely successful, practice.

See Also (off-site): The Jargon File; Philosophy of the Free Software Foundation; The Hacker's Dictionary.