Can a theology student be an evil genius? On the concept of habitus in theological education

Christopher Craig Brittain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


This essay explores the emphasis on habitus in contemporary approaches to theological education, particularly as developed in the recent volume Educating Clergy. Attention is given to the roots of the concept in the social theory of Pierre Bourdieu, and how it is developed in the work of Talal Asad, in order to illustrate why habitus is frequently emphasised as a helpful way to bridge the gap between theory and practice, knowledge and the good life. The analysis demonstrates a number of weaknesses in the concept, both from a practical and theological perspective. It uncovers some guiding presuppositions about the nature of 'religion' in Educating Clergy, which highlights the lack of homogeneity in the concept of habitus, as well as the fact that it is epistemologically ambivalent. The discussion serves to demonstrate the need for theological education to attend to the norms and sources which provide the critical leverage with which to evaluate differing habits and dispositions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)426-440
Number of pages15
JournalScottish Journal of Theology
Issue number4
Early online date23 Oct 2007
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2007


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