Habit's Pathways

Tony Bennett


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Duke University Press
23 October 2023
ISBN: 9781478024989
272 pages

From the publisher

Habit has long preoccupied a wide range of theologians, philosophers, sociologists, psychologists, and neuroscientists. In Habit's Pathways Tony Bennett explores the political consequences of the varied ways in which habit's repetitions have been acted on to guide or direct conduct. Bennett considers habit's uses and effects across the monastic regimens of medieval Europe, in plantation slavery and the factory system, through colonial forms of rule, and within a range of medicalized pathologies. He brings these episodes in habit's political histories to bear on contemporary debates ranging from its role in relation to the politics of white supremacy to the digital harvesting of habits in practices of algorithmic governance. Throughout, Bennett tracks how habit's repetitions have been articulated differently across divisions of class, race, and gender, demonstrating that although habit serves as an apparatus for achieving success, self-fulfillment, and freedom for the powerful, it has simultaneously served as a means of control over women, racialized peoples, and subordinate classes.