Bourdieu and Education: Acts of Practical Theory by Michael Grenfell, David James

By Michael Grenfell, David James

This article info the sensible functions of Bourdieu's theories in a chain of particular pedagogic study reports, displaying how his principles may be positioned into perform. Language, gender, occupation decision-making and the adventure of upper schooling scholars are all coated. Questions also are raised touching on examine method. The authors research Bourdieu's curiosity within the place of the researcher in the examine method. Bourdieu's impact is traced in points either one of concept and perform. eventually, rules, ways, tools and methods that could be derived from Bourdieu are prompt, and assessed, for sensible use in learn.

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As Talbott comments: ‘Primary and secondary education were under separate administrations that jealously guarded their every prerogative. The lycées operated their own elementary classes whose program differed markedly from that of the public primary schools’ (p. 29). He concludes: The futures of the overwhelming majority of children were likely to be determined at the age of six, when they entered either the public primary school or the elementary class of the lycée. For the bright primary school pupil of limited means, one narrow and uncertain path to the university was open; he might obtain a scholarship to the lycée that would enable him to acquire the indispensable baccalaureate.

We have seen that a common criticism of Bourdieu is that this makes for a deterministic theoretical approach. However, this is not the case. Rather, everything is up for grabs. It appears as if everyone is free to play, everything is negotiable. If it were not, the ‘rules’ of the games themselves would not be accepted. Everyone plays, but differential structures ensure that not everyone is equal. This misrecognition is an essential component of the legitimate and the social processes described.

It is precisely because scholastic culture is an artificial acquisition presenting itself as absolutely valid that it constructs and legitimates divisions and differences. In no sense was Bourdieu offering a ‘sociology of education’ in Les Héritiers nor a theory of learning, and, certainly, in no sense was he attempting to present a static correlation between the social class of students and their educational performance. Equally, in no sense was Bourdieu idealizing indigenous culture. Rather, he was attempting to find a way of describing the dynamics of cultural adaptation in operation within the system of education that he observed.

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