Architects and their clients: Relationship analysis using habitus theory

Jessica Siva, Kerry London

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The nature and quality of the architect-client relationship is critical for project success yet its management remains problematic. This interdisciplinary study draws theory from sociology to further our understanding of this built environment industry problem. The concept of habitus, developed by French sociologist Bourdieu, helps to demystify the architect-client relationship and explain the underlying cause of conflicts between architects and clients. Habitus theory explains that the nature of architecture as a specialised activity places architects within an architectural habitus, distinguishing architects from clients who are not trained as professional architects. This paper provides a detailed description of the socialisation process one undergoes to become a "full fledged" architect. This socialisation process can place the architect in a dichotomous position simultaneously alienating them from their client who is not trained in the architectural profession and yet the architect still has to envision a design from their untrained client's perspective as a living space. The concept of second birth is considered for its relevance to explain the mismatch between the architect and client's habituses which takes place as they embark on a project together. An underlying premise to this research is that the architect and client's habituses encounter conditions which are different from those they are accustomed to as they enter into a relationship. It is the management of this complex and rich mismatch between the habituses that can determine the success of the architect-client relationship and is worthy of further exploration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-146
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Architect-Client Relationship
  • Architects
  • Habitus


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