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Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of social reproduction and its implications for educational research

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of social reproduction and its implications for educational research

Dr. Richard Waller (University of West of England) and Dr. Ciaran Burke (University of Derby)

The theoretical project of the French philosopher Pierre Bourdieu has influenced many disciplines including anthropology, political science, economics and cultural studies.  However, it is the study of education in which Bourdieu’s self-styled brand on structural constructivism has been most celebrated.  Driven by his heuristic thinking tools ofhabitus, capital and field, Bourdieu has demonstrated both the structural barriers individuals experience when attempting to enter various stages of education and also the active role the education system plays in ensuring the reproduction of social position through various mechanisms under the umbrella term ‘symbolic violence’.  A guiding principle of Bourdieu’s approach to the social was to protect against “spontaneous sociology”: an account of the social world which is neither driven by social theory nor immersed in empirical data.  In support of this principle this seminar will offer an introductory account of Bourdieusian social theory.  It will provide an overview of his key thinking tools:

Habitus; Capital (economic, social and cultural); Field;Habitus clivé; Hysteresis; Doxa; Symbolic violence.

To illustrate these concepts and demonstrate their utility for researchers,  the session will place these in an educational context through reflecting on both Bourdieu’s own work and the recent application of his concepts from a number of projects both Ciaran and Richard have been involved in across the field of higher education. 




Dr Richard Waller

Richard has taught in further and higher education for more than 20 years. He is Associate Professor of the Sociology of Education at the University of the West of England, Bristol. His research, which tends to be qualitative in nature and has a strong social justice theme, focuses on social class, gender and higher education, and he has published widely on these topics. He has recently finished the longitudinal Paired Peers study (2010-2017) which looked at the impact of social class background upon transitions into and through university and into the graduate labour market for a cohort of 90 undergraduates at Bristol’s two universities.

Dr. Ciaran Burke

Ciaran is an Associate Professor of Higher Education at the University of Derby working in the International Centre for Guidance Studies.  Framed through a Bourdieusian lens his work has examined issues concerning widening participation, student experience and graduate employment pathways, in particular, how these issues can be read as classed.  He is currently working on projects funded by HECSU and SRHE broadly examining the concept of graduate resilience. A founding member of the British Sociological Association Bourdieu Study Group, Ciaran has written and edited a number of books focusing on issues including graduate employment trajectories and educational aspirations



12.30 – 13.15                                      Registration and brunch     

13.15 – 14.15                                     Introduction: Bourdieu's basic concepts - habitus and capital

                                                            Dr. Richard Waller (University of West of England)

 14.15 -15.15                                       Bourdieu’s thinking tools: beyond the basics and beyond Bourdieu

                                                            Dr. Ciaran Burke (University of Derby)

 15.15 – 15.45                                     Plenary: Making Use of Bourdieu

15.45 – 16.00                                      Summary and Close

Network: Academic Practice
Date(s): Tuesday, 19 June 2018
Times: 12.30 - 16:00
Location: SRHE, 73 Collier St, London N1 9BE
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ciaran Burke - Bordieu
University of Derby
Richard Waller - Bordieu
Dr. Richard Waller (University of West of England)
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