Robert Schmidt, Jörg Volbers
May 19, 2016
The assumption that social practices are public and thus observable is a basic tenet of practice-theoretical approaches. On the one hand, the “publicness assumption” defines the praxeological criticism of subjectivism as well as of accounts relying on hypothetical structural entities. On the other hand, a certain conception of the “publicness assumption” allows critics to reproach praxeology for its limited analytical scope. In this article, we explicate in several steps the contentious - and often implicit - basic assumption that social practices are public in several steps. We sketch a notion of social practices and their fundamental “publicness” which avoids presentist misinterpretations and conceptualises sociality as chains of practices across time and space. We do so by referring to the works of Schatzki, Wittgenstein, Giddens, and Latour. In these, the carriers of practices (artifacts, symbols, media, bodies) and the translocal structures they establish acquire particular significance. In a further step, we present some methodological considerations corresponding to the “publicness assumption” and exemplify these by referring to Bourdieu’s study of “Distinction”.