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The work of John Dewey has been widely invoked in recent endeavors to harness habit to progressive programs of social change, particularly in relation to questions of race. While acknowledging the significance of Dewey's work, this chapter also probes its limitations, particularly when his account of habit is placed alongside his discussion of the roles of impulse and intelligence in the direction of conduct. This reveals the racial assumptions underlying his account of the different positions accorded “savages” in being trapped within what he called the “routineer's road” while “modern man” breaks free of its limitations. This prepares the way for a consideration of the difficulties associated with two other accounts of habit's progressive pathways: Shannon Sullivan's account of the contradictory pulls that characterize attempts to break free from the habits of white privilege, and the racial underpinnings of Pierre Bourdieu's distinction between “archaic” and “modern” habitus.

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