The imperceptible force of habituation
Moving beyond agency
in French London
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Chapter 3 turns to the habituation component of the habitus triad. Conceptualised as an internalised embodiment of the external field, habituation is concerned with the subjective, pre-reflexive dimension of habitus. The chapter considers the effect of habituation on participants’ initial mobility and its continued influence over their emplacement and identity post-migration. Gradual habituation to the local field emerges as a powerful factor in settlement and one that undermines the rationalised reasoning typically drawn on in migration narratives. Moreover, early encounters with the Other through travel, heritage or media in the premigration field are deemed to plant the mobility seed and foster an unconscious ‘migrancy habitus’. Another key element of habituation developed is the unthinking sense of postmigration security as an embedding factor. Here, the relationship between security and freedom is foregrounded, as is hierarchised comparison between Paris and London ‘securiscapes’. Through the prism of security, the chapter demonstrates the circular interplay between feeling safe and feeling ‘at home’, both of which are conducive to a habituated sense of belonging and long-term settlement. The chapter also explores the transformative creep of habituation to the diasporic field and its potentially disruptive impact, demonstrating how participants’ internal subjectivities are gradually, imperceptibly and potentially disconcertingly modified by their external surroundings. Finally, it establishes humour as the ultimate hurdle to habituated integration. It argues that spontaneous, culturally inflected humour strengthens ties between London-French migrants but excludes them from full belonging to the ‘host’ culture, due to a lack of affinity with pre-reflexive, shared comedic codes.

French London

A blended ethnography of a migrant city

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