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Symbolic Violence

In the work of Pierre Bourdieu, symbolic violence denotes more than a form of violence operating symbolically. It is “the violence which is exercised upon a social agent with his or her complicity” (Bourdieu and Wacquant 2002, 167, italics in original). Examples of the exercise of symbolic violence include gender relations in which both men and women agree that women are weaker, less intelligent, more unreliable, and so forth (and for Bourdieu gender relations are the paradigm case of the operation of symbolic violence), or class relations in which both working-class and middle-class people agree that the middle classes are more intelligent, more capable of running the country, more deserving of higher pay. In terms of consumer culture, symbolic violence might be seen to be ...

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