Compton-Lilly’s “Development of Writing Habitus: A Ten-year Case Study”

How do people become writers over time, and how writing is situated within identity construction? In this case study, Compton-Lily follows Peter, an emerging African American writer from a low-income community from first-grade to high school. Compton-Lilly collected data from interviews, field notes, and writing samples while Peter was in 1stgrade, 5th grade, 8th grade, and 11th grade. She then coded data from each data collection, identifying salient categories of information, and then coding data from the first and third collections into grounded categories organized by contrastive analysis. As Compton-Lilly considered the patterns, she was led to Bordieu’s notion of habitus, which emphasizes the identity dispositions people create over periods of time, and from which she develops the concept of a writing habitus. She found that Peter’s writing habitus consisted of four developed dispositions: meeting school expectations for reading and writing, being a good student, forming friendships and affiliations that involved reading and writing practices, and future goals that related to writing. Becoming a writer cannot just be about learning thesis statements or grammar, but is also related to dispositions which focus on individual purpose and social belonging. Social affiliation should be fostered inside the classroom and promoted outside the classroom. 

Reference:
Compton-Lilly, C. (2014). The development of writing habitus: A ten-year case study of a young writer. Written Communication, 31, 371-403.