07 SES 01 A, Teachers' Views on Social Justice
The recent attacks in Paris on the offices of Charlie Hebdo and the associated Islamophobia as well as the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe lead us to question why and how such events come into being. Such events require reflection and within education as teachers and educators, as well as members of wider society we need to analyse the reasons why the young men are driven to such extreme acts. What are the antecedents that lead to the thoughts which give rise to such violent actions? Schools, teachers and teacher education have a part to play in ensuring that certain groups do not get marginalised by the education system and are enabled to become productive members of society.
This paper is designed to be a theoretical “think piece” structured to initiate debate and discussion with conference participants on how teachers, schools and teacher education can better meet the needs of all children without marginalising those from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds who in many school systems across Europe are identified as underacheivers, form a large proportion of those who are unemployed and imprioned.
This paper draws on critical race theory (CRT), the construct of whiteness and Bourdieu’s notion of symbolic violence (Bourdieu and Passeron 1977) to provide a theoretical model to explain the persistence of racism in society in England despite the presence of equalities legislation and societal taboos related to overt racism.
Neither laws that exist to ensure equality for all, nor the discourse of liberalism based on meritocracy which prevails in the thinking of most teachers in the classroom have served to overcome the structural barriers of institutional racism. Critical race theory (CRT) identifies racism as an everyday aspect of society. CRT focuses solely on racism and how it manifests itself in the everyday acts of omission, exclusion, ignorance and inaction. Whilst overt acts of racism such as name calling and violence are publicly abhorred; silent everyday acts of racism continue unrecognised and unacknowledged by the majority but identified and deeply felt by minorities.
Whiteness as a social, political and cultural construct underpins the operation of structural racism (Garner 2010). Whiteness is associated with the maintenance of power, privilege and dominance. In the process of maintaining power and privilege others are rendered powerless. Whiteness operates through institutions and everyday interactions. But how is whiteness perpetuated? This paper argues that symbolic violence, defined by Jenkins (1992) as the imposition of a culture on groups in such a way that it is rendered legitimate, is perpetuated through misrecognition, or a form of forgetting. The dominant discourse of whiteness upholds White as a neutral identity so constitutes the misrecognition of the symbolic violence of whiteness which minoritized people experience through silent everyday racism. The neutrality of whiteness is so deeply embedded in the systems of society that its symbolic violence has become invisible and bearable. It is the maintenance of the neutrality of whiteness as well as the diametrically opposed notion of the aberrant “Other” that prevails silently, misrecognised which inflict the symbolic violence on those marginalised and labelled as “Others” that damages our wider multicultural societies in Europe. Is this damage irreparable or can education begin to redress the damage of symbolic violence?
The research examines three research projects to re-examine the findings with respect to the CRT/symbolic violence theoretical framework described above. The research questions are:
- How is whiteness evident within each research study?
- What are the outcomes of whiteness operating in the education environment of each study?
- What factors constitute symbolic violence in each case? What, if any, are the effects of this symbolic violence?
Bourdieu, P. and Passeron, J.C. (1977) Reproduction In Education, Society and Culture London: Sage. Bourdieu, P. and Wacquant, L. (2002) An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Garner, S, 2007. Whiteness an introduction. Abingdon: Routledge Garner, S. (2010) Racisms An Introduction London, Sage Gillborn, D. 2008. Racism and Education. Coincidence or Conspiracy? Abingdon: Routledge Jenkins, R. (1992) Pierre Bourdieu Abingdon, Routledge
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