appropriate to what Bourdieu terms a 'field'. A field, he argues in Questions de sociologie ( 1980), is a competitive system of social relations which functions according to its own internal logic, composed of institutions or individuals who are competing for the same stake. What is generally at stake in such fields is the attainment of maximum dominance within them -- a dominance which allows those who achieve it to confer legitimacy on other participants, or to withdraw it from them. To achieve such dominance involves amassing the maximum amount of the particular kind of 'symbolic capital' appropriate to the field; and for such power to become 'legitimate' it must cease to be recognized for what it is. A power which is tacitly rather than explicitly endorsed is one which has succeeded in legitimating itself.
Any such social field is necessarily structured by a set of unspoken rules for what can be validly uttered or perceived within it; and these rules thus operate as a mode of what Bourdieu terms 'symbolic violence'. Since symbolic violence is legitimate, it generally goes unrecognized as violence. It is, Bourdieu remarks in Outline of a Theory of Practice, 'the gentle, invisible form of violence, which is never recognised as such, and is not so much undergone as chosen, the violence of credit, confidence, obligation, personal loyalty, hospitality, gifts, gratitude, piety. . . . 54 in the field of education, for example, symbolic violence operates not so much by the teacher speaking 'ideologically' to the students, but by the teacher being perceived as in possession of an amount of 'cultural capital' which the student needs to acquire. The educational system thus contributes to reproducing the dominant social order not so much by the viewpoints it fosters, but by this regulated distribution of cultural capital. As Bourdieu argues in Distinction ( 1979), a similar form of symbolic violence is at work in the whole field of culture, where those who lack the 'correct' taste are unobtrusively excluded, relegated to shame and silence. 'Symbolic violence' is thus Bourdieu's way of rethinking and elaborating the Gramscian concept of hegemony; and his work as a whole represents an original contribution to what one might call the 'microstructures' of ideology, complementing the more general notions of the Marxist tradition with empirically detailed accounts of ideology as 'everyday life'.