At home in one's habitus: the accommodation of communities of the good life




Soufi, Youcef

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This thesis seeks to offer a particular perspective from which to understand and approach the claims of some social collectivities. By making use of the concept of the habitus as employed by Talal Asad, I introduce the category of communities of the good life, whose members dedicate their lives to ends achievable only by a conscious shaping of their subjectivity. I argue that in light of the exigencies for sustaining a commitment to such a life, current legal rights are insufficient to make these communities feel that they can fully fulfill their aspirations in liberal societies. This in turn makes the basis of social and political solidarity tenuous. Perhaps worse, I argue, the accommodation of groups can only be placated by establishing structures of domination through the creation of assimilative mechanisms. I therefore contend that modern liberal democratic societies should understand their political union not as one based on liberal rights but on a union for the fulfillment of the concrete ends sought by citizens. In arguing for this position, I also seek to respond to two objections. The first is that the heterogeneous nature of all groups makes any accommodation either impossible without privileging some over others or perhaps placing dissenters in a precarious situation. The second is that accommodations will result in the subversion of citizens' freedoms.



Community, Multiculturalism, Accomodation, Social