Journal Article

Habitus and the labor of representation among elite professionals

Brooke Harrington

in Journal of Professions and Organization

Volume 4, issue 3, pages 282-301
Published in print October 2017 | ISSN: 2051-8803
Published online February 2017 | e-ISSN: 2051-8811 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jpo/jox002
Habitus and the labor of representation among elite professionals

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  • Business and Management
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Abstract

This paper reports findings from an 8-year study of the embodiment, acquisition, and consequences of habitus in the wealth management profession. The study contributes in three ways to the ongoing effort to apply Bourdieu’s theories to contemporary professional service work. First, it sheds light on the agency of individual practitioners in manifesting habitus, including the avoidance of certain behaviors in interactions with clients and peers. Second, it looks in greater depth at the process of acquiring habitus through work experiences, particularly among those who come to the profession without a suitable primary habitus; the findings suggest that having a fragmented habitus can constitute a strategic advantage for some practitioners. Third, the study sheds light on ways habitus affects client service; contrary to the trend in other professions, wealth managers’ ability to enhance clients’ cultural capital is often more highly valued than increasing their economic capital. These novel contributions are offered through analysis of a broadly global dataset, incorporating original interview data with 65 practitioners in 18 countries. This forms the basis for new insights on ‘global habitus’ in trans-national professional work—a topic of current scholarly debate.

Keywords: elites; habitus; wealth

Journal Article.  12188 words. 

Subjects: Business and Management ; Organizational Theory and Behaviour ; Ownership and Organization of Enterprises ; Industry Studies ; Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behaviour

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