To distribute dance to different target groups

Can dance training have a positive effect in adolescents’ development mainly in a psychical way through teenage years to adulthood?

By: My Gren
Position: BA Dance Pedagogy, DOCH, Stockholm University of the Arts, Sweden

In this text I will discuss how, as a choreographer, I can use Pierre Bourdieus, Billy Ehns and Orvar Löfgren’s thoughts to reach out and create interest in Danish art at different target groups in Sweden.

The paper can be downloaded here (In Swedish)


Pierre Bordieu uses in his book Cultural Sociological texts (1993) an equation to form the basis for forthcoming discussion: (habitus) (field) + field = internship (page 251). What Bourdieu claims is that an individual, or agent practitioner is always the sum of the individual’s habitius and capital in interaction with the field where the agent is located. Thus, in order to understand practitioners in a specific situation, one must first understand the meaning of its components. Habitus can be explained by “body-engulfed dispositions”, ways to see the world, to interpret, act, move, feel taste and dislike as often as unconscious as conscious. ” (Palme, 2006) Habitus is something that every agent brings as a constant luggage. It is thus a structured structure within the agent, but also a structuring structure – thus a tool for sorting and incorporating new information into its habitus, which, at the same time as incorporation occurs, is transformed into a new structured structure or a new habitus (Bordieu , 1993). If we proceed to the word capital we find that its meaning is embodied in the concept of habitus in the sense that an agent’s capital is all of its assets in a given situation or in a given field, which refers in part to the agent’s body-shaped capital in terms of taste and formation, which we can see clearly relates to the quotation of habitus above. (Broady, 1991) Different types of capital that Bourdieu talks about are, for example, symbolic capital, cultural capital, financial capital and social capital. (Palme, 2006) The concept of fields or social fields is “an area or sphere in society where people contend and define something that is commonly understood as valuable … and is delimited from other areas where other symbolic values ​​are at stake.” (Palme, 2006) A field is thus not associated with a geographical area.

Looking back at Bourdieu’s equation we can conclude that habitus and capital always go hand in hand – they are multiplied with each other – as the agent’s personal “qualities”, but it is at the same time as they encounter a field that different practices arise. Different fields value capital in different ways and thus the agent’s practitioners differ depending on the field in which they are currently. The agent’s practitioner will also have different conditions every time this is in a field, as habitus is constantly being restructured. Capital is also constantly changing – financial capital increases or decreases, cultural capital is transformed. I would say that cultural capital in many cases is a fresh item in today’s society where we are expected to have seen the latest youtube video, followed the political threats or have danced for the dance teacher currently revolutionizing the dance world. When the agent’s capital changes, the relationship between equation components also changes. If you translate it into mathematical terms, it could look as follows: ab + x = y. (Where a = habitus, b = capital, x = field, y = internship) It gives the mathematician a clearer picture of how Changing each component is. Both a, b and x are numbers that together create the result y.

The second text I will be based on is Kulturanalyser (2014) by Billy Ehn and Oskar Löfgren with main focus on pages 28-31 and 43-45, where the authors discuss and discuss the cultural analysis based on the use of search lists. A search list is an integral part of cultural analysis to define a world of imagination. It is based on viewing the world of imagination “to see how it is organized into certain categories and thinking courses, basic values ​​and approaches” (Ehn, 2014, page 28). Furthermore, the authors give an example of how a search list could look. One could analyze an imaginary world from: Chaos / order, human nature, individual / collective, space, time, society and social landscape, power and hierarchy, gender, morality, prestige, work, cosmology. The list itself is a cultural product of our Western thinking, which you prefer to speak in opposing pairs (upside down, active – passive, male – female) who have “obvious” charges, but in another society, the same words do not have to be experienced in the same way and may not even be in contrast to each other. Ehn and Löfgren point out that there are alternative ways to write search lists; alternative thematicizations. They use rhetorical questions to build an image of how to find alternative thematicizations. How would it look if different from a search list? If you were from colors, smells, flavors and smells? Replace dicotomies with synonyms, quadratic schemas or gradient scales? How does love, disgust, eagerness and other feelings come true? The goal of the search lists is not to answer every single question without seeing the relationship between the various parts of the imaginary world so that it binds to an overall image where each part affects the others (Ehn & Löfgren, 2014).

I feel that what Ehn and Löfgren want to convey in Culture Analysis (2014) is primarily the child’s mind at the analyst. Turn and turn on things! Do not look at an imaginary world from five directions, see it from hundreds of hundreds. Pay attention to your own values ​​and how they interfere with your interpretation. They provide tools that you can use, for the next time claiming the tools as inadequate. They attract the imagination by asking questions that are difficult to answer. In order to be able to critically analyze a target group, world of imagination or culture, it takes enormous self-esteem. One has to be critical of both their own thoughts and what they see in front of themselves. Quick conclusions are the worst possible, as they lock their image of the object for the analysis and in the long run, the nuance of their analysis has been hampered.

How can I use Bourdieus, Ehns and Lörgren’s thoughts when I as Danish artist and educator want to help open up the dance world and create an interest in Danish art in different target groups? My experience is that the dance world is like a club of mutual admiration, it’s all said to have access, but in practice, most of the dance art is directed towards already realized. How can I communicate dance in a way so that it reaches more in society?

Starting from Bourdieu’s equation (habitus) (capital) + field = internship can be informative in this question. I wish a specific practice, namely, that an agent should be interested in Danish art in some way, for example by enrolling in a course, going on a show, checking youtubeklipp, creating yourself or the like. So I know the y factor. Now I need to find out ab + x. To do that, I need to specify a target group first. We make a thought experiment: The target group is young people 13-17 years old at a youth farm in Täby. What does the social field look like where young people move? To clarify this, I can use the search lists that Ehn and Löfgren suggested to explore different worlds of imagination, which could be similar to a field at. My studies might show that knowledge of social codes was very important (a certain corner of the venue was “owned” by a bunch of girls, the ping room was neutral ground, all of which were accepted, it was expected to arrive ten minutes late for all activities but early to cook etc ). After that, habitus and capital must be defined. Perhaps I can do it through interviews, as well as based on different search lists, to clarify the backgrounds of young people and different types of capital. Once all this is done, I have a clear picture of how agents’ practitioners could look in certain given situations. Now I can try to put in different kinds of “dance ads” in the social field. How would the practitioners look like? What would the difference in practitioners be if I let a young, confident dance teacher come there and tell me about a dance project or if I let the Minister of Culture come and read about the importance of dance as cultural expression, then ask young people to look at a dance performance? What would the difference in practitioners be if I put up a poster with information about a Danish student or showed a dance film as a bio-event? Of course, the differences in how each single presentation looks and not just what it is. When choosing a method of communicating, one must also consider how the method communicates. What results in the practitioners I want to eat? This is a way of using Bourdieus, Ehns and Löfgren’s mindset. You can choose to work deeply and analytically or use your thoughts as a shoe tool to learn how to communicate to different audiences: what words, expressions and media that reach and interest just the audience you choose to target. Otherwise, one easily sticks to turning to their own field by expressing themselves in ways that inspire oneself.


Bourdieu P. (1993). ”Distinktionen. En social kritik av omdömet” (s 244-310) Kultursociologiska texter. Stockholm: Salamander.

Broady D. (1991). Sociologi och epistemologi. PDF-version 2005.

Ehn B. & Löfgren O. (2001). Kulturanalyser. Malmö: Gleerups.

Palme, M. (2006). Begreppsförklaringar till Bourdieus sociologi. Hämtad 2010-03-25.