Symbolic violence and poverty porn

thelearningprofessor

I’ve been thinking off and on about Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of symbolic violence. His well-known book on Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture started with a discussion of ‘a theory of symbolic violence’, which defined it in terms of the power to ‘impose meanings and impose them as legitimate by concealing the power relations which are the basis of its force’. He went on to describe all ‘pedagogic action’ as ‘symbolic violence in so far as it is the imposition of a cultural arbitrary by an arbitrary power’.

While never returning to the idea in such depth, Bourdieu continued to use it in broadly similar terms. But it has never had the same currency as the other key ideas that he helped to generate. A search of the British Journal of Sociology of Education returned 53 papers which used the concept in some way, compared with 331 which referred to…

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