Coffee House: Habitus and Performance Among Law Students

Law and Social Inquiry, Vol. 31, pp. 649-676, 2006

64 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2009

See all articles by Sarah Turner

Sarah Turner

McGill University

Desmond Manderson

ANU College of Law; ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences; McGill University - Faculty of Law

Date Written: September 21, 2006

Abstract

Drawing on the work of Pierre Bourdieu and Judith Butler, we develop a detailed ethnography of a social space in a major law school, and explore its socialization of the students there. ‘Coffee House’ is a weekly social event sponsored by Canadian law firms offering free drink and food to the students present. We argue that this event and the actors involved profoundly change student identities and alter educational aspirations. Although the students themselves insist that ‘nothing is going on,’ our ethnography suggests that in ‘Coffee House’ identity is developed through performances, and in the accumulation of symbolic capital, until ultimately students come to feel their future career path is not a matter of choice, but destiny. We explore the important work of Bourdieu through this setting, but ultimately we resist his determinism, and suggest instead that, following the work of Butler, identity is a more complicated and fluid dynamic between space, repetition, and performance. It appears that a personal unconscious transformation amongst law students attending Coffee House is underway; yet opportunities to change the meaning of this space and these performances remain.

Keywords: sociology, bourdieu, butler law students, legal education, ethnography, law students

Suggested Citation

Turner, Sarah and Manderson, Desmond, Coffee House: Habitus and Performance Among Law Students (September 21, 2006). Law and Social Inquiry, Vol. 31, pp. 649-676, 2006 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1476400

Sarah Turner

McGill University

1001 Sherbrooke St. W
Montreal, Quebec H3A 1G5
Canada

Desmond Manderson (Contact Author)

ANU College of Law; ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://https://researchers.anu.edu.au/researchers/manderson-dra

McGill University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Canada

HOME PAGE: http://https://researchers.anu.edu.au/researchers/manderson-dra

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