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Bourdieusian interaction: actors’ habitus, agentic activities and field resources

Sid Lowe (Department of KIMBA, Faculty of Business Administration, Kasetsart University, Bangkok, Thailand)
Nirundon Tapachai (Department of Management, Faculty of Business Administration, Kasetsart University, Bangkok, Thailand)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 24 September 2020

Issue publication date: 25 May 2021




This paper aims to explore the implications of applying a Bourdieusian meta-framework to business interaction and relationship building within networks. The motive is to advocate the use of Bourdieu’s work in its entirety rather than sub-optimal use of selected concepts in isolation.


The aim of this conceptual paper is to explore how a Bourdieusian framework benefits understanding of structure/agency relations as a mutually constituted duality within business networks. The concept of duality regard relationships as emergent from synergies between structure and agency made possible by the translational capacity of “habitus”. Habitus is, therefore, the main intersection, catalyst or chiasmus between structure and agency facilitating enacted, emergent properties of business relationships.


The Bourdieusian framework suggests that structures and practices are related by multiple dualities brokered by multiple knowledge forms. The main contribution that this triadic framework brings to debates on structure-agency relationships is mostly contained in the concept of “habitus”, which is identified as a translation vehicle provides critical brokerage between actors’ resource structures and activities. It is a key concept that helps us understand how structures and agentic behaviours are equally important and mutually constituting influences upon emergent properties of business interaction. For business marketing, this means that the habitus of actors’ schemas are both embodied and cognitive. Habitus acts as the main catalyst for emergent and diverse capital resources and a plural set of skills essential for effective practical activities.

Research limitations/implications

The research focus of a Bourdieusian framework is upon investigating a triadic understanding of concepts of habitus, field and practice as elements of a “pan-relational” or mutually constituted amalgam facilitated by a corresponding triadic relationship between three types of knowledge; namely, “illusio”, “phrónesis” and “poíesis”.

Practical implications

By adopting a Bourdieusian framework, this paper can regard the practical development of durable business relationships as involving interactions that adequately co-ordinate the different habitus, sub-fields and practices of parties as shared. The implication is that the practitioner needs to be equally competent in their use of “illusio”, “phrónesis” and “poíesis” as different knowledge forms whose sum is greater than its parts.


The approach reveals that habitus emphasizes that structures are never entirely conscious and calculated schemas as they contain unconscious, embodied habits fuelled by tacit, cultural knowledge infused with symbolism, mythologies and rituals, which are communicated mostly indirectly through analogical reasoning, narrative, heuristics and embodied gestures.



Lowe, S. and Tapachai, N. (2021), "Bourdieusian interaction: actors’ habitus, agentic activities and field resources", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 36 No. 6, pp. 893-904.



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