Identity and Ideology: Sociocultural Theories of Schooling

By Stanley William Rothstein | Go to book overview

3
Reproduction: Symbolic Violence in Educational Systems

This chapter describes the pedagogical theories of Pierre Bourdieu and his associates and then provides a critique of them. If Bourdieu is correct, then educational systems are characterized by inculcation and a need to reproduce the social relations of production in schools and society. These fulfill schooling's obligation to pass on an arbitrary cultural design, or what Bourdieu calls the cultural arbitrary. This term refers to the culture of the dominant classes, which is actually, though not in appearance, based on power. Educational systems cannot escape these social and economic functions: They must reproduce the social relations between classes as they exist in schools and the labor market. 1

Bourdieu's theories of symbolic violence in educational systems are presented in a series of propositions and glosses that have their own logic and internal consistency. They begin with pedagogic action as the central relationship in the schooling experience, seeing it as the point at which children are regularly subjected to symbolic violence. It is in the act of instruction that an arbitrary cultural scheme is dictated to students by school authorities. It is in the pedagogical act that meaning and values are dictated by agents of the dominant classes on weaker ones. "Every power to exert symbolic violence," Bourdieu writes, "every power which manages to impose meanings and to impose them as legitimate by concealing the power relations which are the basis of its force, adds its own specifically symbolic force to those power relations." This leads to a second thesis about the twofold arbitrariness of pedagogic action: "All pedagogic action is, objectively, symbolic violence insofar as it is the imposition of a cultural arbitrary by an arbitrary power." Bourdieu defines the cultural arbitrary as those communications between teachers and

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Identity and Ideology: Sociocultural Theories of Schooling
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • 1 - Sociocultural Theories of Schooling: An Introduction 1
  • 2 - The Role of the State 19
  • 3 - Reproduction: Symbolic Violence in Educational Systems 45
  • SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION 63
  • 4 - Ideological State Apparatuses 67
  • 5 - The Social Relations of Production 87
  • 6 - The Social Relations of Educational Production 109
  • 7 - Separating Theory from Practice: A Scholastic Question 129
  • Notes 151
  • Selected Bibliography 157
  • Index 159
  • About the Author 163
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