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Habit and conscious control: ethnography and embodiment in the Alexander Technique

Tarr, Jen (2008) Habit and conscious control: ethnography and embodiment in the Alexander Technique. Ethnography, 9 (4). pp. 477-497. ISSN 1466-1381

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Identification Number: 10.1177/1466138108096988


This article examines the process of learning the Alexander Technique, a method of body re-education, in relation to Bourdieu's observation that bodily knowledge is often subconscious and not easily translatable into words (1988). It argues that Alexander Technique is a useful case study for examining how the body learns because of the Technique's emphasis on conscious awareness and overcoming habitual reactions. Based on 18 months of fieldwork undertaking lessons in Alexander Technique and interviewing teachers and pupils, the Technique is examined as a `somatic mode of attention' (Csordas, 2002) and its effects on the habitus and bodily hexis are discussed. The relationship between habit and conscious control in the Technique has implications for our understanding of embodiment in the context of teaching and learning bodily practices.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2008 Sage
Divisions: Methodology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2012 09:57
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2021 03:38

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