Thursday, July 8, 2021

Symbolic violence defined and explained with example

Symbolic violence (also called soft violence or symbolic force ) is a concept coined by the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu .

According to Bourdieu: "'Symbolic violence' is violence perpetrated on us through tacit consent on the part of those who fall victim to it and also, often, on the part of those who use it, if both do not perceive at all that they use violence or suffer from it." Symbolic violence is not violence in the simplest sense - the use of physical force or threat to use it, or the explicit use of authority - but a social force exercised by creating an impression of superiority and segregation over those affected. This impression causes others to feel powerless, and to refrain from activities that would threaten the social place of those who engage in symbolic violence. Control is considered 'violence' because it is not the result of conscious consent and free choice, and is 'symbolic' because it is created by symbolic categories. Symbolic violence works covertly, and no rebellion is directed against it. Ostensibly, people do what they wanted to do, what is natural for them. The innovation in the idea of ​​'symbolic violence' lies in the fact that there is no real violence, or even threat, and yet it achieves its goals and causes people to act voluntarily, in a way that is not necessarily good for them and realizes their interests.

Example of Symbolic violence: Symbolic violence determines the low place of women in society, and yet it is "natural" and women act within the framework of their own free will and in many cases do not seek to break it. Symbolic violence explains the difficulty in mobility in society, the reproduction of classes and power relations from generation to generation.


See summaries of Bourdieu's work:
Pierre Bourdieu – The Historical Genesis of the Pure Aesthetic - summary and review