'Alignment' with Lindsay Uittenbogaard

The Game of Life: An outline of practice theory - Gabe Elias


This Drinking Dialogue will introduce Pierre Bourdieu’s practice theory as a lens for organizational life.

Bourdieu views individuals as actors playing a ‘game of life’ that is both structured and structured by the exchange of forms of capital (economic and socio-cultural). Of course the game has rules, but many are unwritten, and can be a matter of contention amongst players. Indeed, the game is fluid as the rules can and often do change over time. Practice theory provides a way to understand how the accumulation of socio-cultural capital predisposes one’s capability to play various roles while playing this fluid game of life.

We’ll unpack Bourdieu’s theory in 3 parts:

  1. Capital: For Bourdieu, capital is defined as the sum of particular assets put to productive use. While such assets are typically understood as economic capital (i.e. how much you have), Bourdieu considers how individuals mobilize cultural capital (i.e. what you know) & social capital (i.e. who you know) to achieve desirable outcomes from the game of life.
  2. Habitus: A key concept for Bourdieu that describes one’s predisposition for the rules of the game. It is an ingrained “structuring structure” that enables an actor’s sense of how to act as they navigate the shifting milieu of the game of life.
  3. Field: The social space where the game is played out. In Bourdieu’s theory, fields are constructed around the accumulation of distinct species of capital and one’s habitus enables or constrains one’s capability to play the game, or (theoretically) change the rules…



Gabe Elias biography
Gabe Elias is a practice theory practitioner in Toronto. The views in this presentation do not reflect those of his employer.


Session expired | View our schedule