Architects and their Clients: Relationship Analysis using Habitus Theory

By Jessica Siva and Kerry London.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

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.

Keywords: Habitus, Architects, Architect-Client Relationship

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp.131-146. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.260MB).

Jessica Siva

Research Associate, Centre for Interdisciplinary Built Environment Research, School of Architecture and Built Environment, School of Architecture and Building, Deakin University, Newcastle, VIC, Australia

Jessica Siva is a PhD scholarship holder at Deakin University, Australia in the School of Architecture and Building. She also tutors Research in the Built Environment to students in Architecture and Construction Management at undergraduate and masters level at the University of Newcastle. She previously obtained a Masters of Philosophy from the University of Newcastle where she won a Postgraduate Research Prize. She was a foundation member of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Built Environment Research at the University of Newcastle. She has been involved with various nationally funded research projects and has published in the areas of design firm internationalisation, government supply chain management, social capital in SMEs, sustainable urban development decision-making policy, process and practice and innovative dissemination of research findings.

Dr. Kerry London

Chair in Construction Management, School of Architecture and Building, Deakin University, Geelong, VIC, Australia

Dr. Kerry London holds the Chair in Construction Management at Deakin University, Australia in the School of Architecture and Building. She teaches in architecture and construction management programs. She has published extensively in design management, internationalisation and infrastructure supply chain political economy and supervises honours, masters and doctoral students in all these areas. She is Associate Head of School Research and is responsible for leadership of the school research activities as well as leadership at a university level for research and teaching for the discipline of construction management. She is the first female appointed chair in construction management in Australia. She was an invited visiting scholar at University of Reading in 2006 one of the leading institutions for built environment research in the UK. Dr London is the sole author of “Construction Supply Chain Economics”, and co-author of “Construction Supply Chain Management Handbook” and “Housing Affordability: Supply Side Analysis”. She has been at Deakin since February 2009 and was the founding Director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Built Environment Research [ciber] at the University of Newcastle, Australia.


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