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Habitus and the Labor of Representation Among Elite Professionals
Journal of Professions and Organization (2017)
  • Elisabeth Brooke Harrington
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.
  • elites,
  • habitus,
  • wealth management
Publication Date
Citation Information
Elisabeth Brooke Harrington. "Habitus and the Labor of Representation Among Elite Professionals" Journal of Professions and Organization Vol. 4 (2017) p. 1 - 20
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