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  • Sayer_Character_Pure

    Rights statement: The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Sociology, 54 (3), 2020 © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2020 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Sociology page: https://journals.sagepub.com/home/SOC on SAGE Journals Online: http://journals.sagepub.com/

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Critiquing - and rescuing - 'character'

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/06/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Sociology
Issue number3
Volume54
Number of pages22
Pages (from-to)460-481
Publication statusPublished
Early online date6/01/20
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The paper looks at how sociology might regard the concept of ‘character’, both in terms of the way it is used in public discourse and in its own accounts of social life. In the former, the concept is likely to regarded with suspicion, especially where it is used to explain individuals’ life outcomes in a way that ignores social structures and depoliticizes inequalities. Such usages are to be found in political discourse on welfare and in the character education movement as a solution to problems of ‘social mobility’. Yet if character refers to individuals’ settled dispositions to act in certain ways, then it has some affinities with the Bourdieusian concept of habitus. The paper argues both for developing the critique of ideological uses of the concept and for considering how it might be used in ways that do not misrepresent its explanatory and normative significance.

Bibliographic note

The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Sociology, 54 (3), 2020 © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2020 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Sociology page: https://journals.sagepub.com/home/SOC on SAGE Journals Online: http://journals.sagepub.com/