Seminar 2

Reclaiming ‘Thinking with Bourdieu’

Wednesday 14th October, 2015: 15.00 – 17.30
Venue: Room 9002, Cantor Building, Sheffield Hallam University

Professor David James, Cardiff University
There’s no such thing as ‘Bourdieu Lite’

Dr. Andrew Morrison, Sheffield Hallam University
A three-part theoretical framework to explain undergraduates’ perceptions of barriers to employment in primary teaching in the UK

Discussant: Dr. Tamsim Bowers-Brown

Abstracts and Resources

There’s no such thing as ‘Bourdieu Lite’
David James Cardiff University

 What is distinctive about Bourdieu’s theoretical tools? Why do they sometimes appear to be used in a superficial manner? Is the ‘use’ of Bourdieu compatible with the values of educators and educational researchers? I will explore these questions mainly by drawing on a recent paper (‘How Bourdieu Bites Back: Recognising misrecognition in education and educational research’, Cambridge Journal of Education 2015). The paper refers to a particular research project on middle class identity and school choice, but also represents something of a culmination of over 20 years of working with Bourdieusian concepts, and noticing the friction they have with mainstream educational assumptions, interests and thinking.

A three-part theoretical framework to explain undergraduates’ perceptions of barriers to employment in primary teaching in the UK
Andrew Morrison, Sheffield Hallam University

This article reports the results of a small-scale study into undergraduates’ perceptions of possible barriers to obtaining employment within primary teaching in the UK. The investigation focused upon barriers related to accent and gender. The study sample was a group of final-year undergraduates on an Education Studies degree at a university in South Wales. The study employed a three-part theoretical framework, drawing upon the work of Bourdieu, Andrew Sayer’s discussion of lay normativity and Nancy Fraser’s theory of two-dimensional social justice, to analyse the students’ perceptions of (in)justice deriving from perceived barriers. Results from seven focus groups indicated the students perceived employment-related impediments from processes of misrecognition and maldistribution in primary teaching recruitment. However, the students held complex views on these issues. The majority also voiced discourses which, it could be argued, serve to further the reproduction of such processes of maldistribution and misrecognition.

Panel Discussion
Chaired by Dr. Tamsin Bowers-Brown


 David James is Professor in the School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, and Director of the ESRC Wales Doctoral Training Centre. He is Chair of the Executive Editors of the British Journal of Sociology of Education, and an elected member of BERA Council. He cites failing the 11+ as the most significant educational event in his life, and thinks that the conventional ‘late developer’ explanation is a lazy refusal to see the world sociologically. In the late 1970s he left his day job (clerical work in local government) and his night job (musician) to become a mature student, gaining a first in a social sciences degree at Bristol University. He went on to teach sociology and psychology in FE colleges until the late 1980s, when he moved into higher education in the (then) Bristol Polytechnic. He completed a part-time PhD in 1996. His research covers curriculum, learning and assessment in schools, FE and HE and the relationship between educational policy/practice and social inequality. He has been responsible for many research projects and evaluations, including co-directing two ESRC-funded projects. Books include Bourdieu and Education (1998, with Grenfell), The Creative Professional (1999, with Ashcroft), Improving Learning Cultures in FE (2007, with Biesta) and White Middle Class Identities and Urban Schooling (2011 & 2013, with Reay & Crozier).

Dr. Andrew Morrison is a senior lecturer in Education Studies at Sheffield Hallam University. His research interests focus upon inequalities in relation to participation within higher education and in undergraduates’ constructions of their own employability. He has published in a variety of journals in these areas.

Dr. Tamsin Bowers-Brown is a senior lecturer in Education Studies at Sheffield Hallam University. Her main interests are education policy and inequality with an emphasis on social class. Her PhD study explored how girls ‘do’ education and her theoretical framework employed ideas and concepts from Pierre Bourdieu and Michel Foucault. She has a forthcoming book chapter, “It’s like if you don’t go to Uni you fail in life”: The relationship between girls’ educational choices, habitus and the forms of capital” in Bourdieu: The Next Generation. The Development of Bourdieu’s Intellectual Heritage in Contemporary UK Sociology (2016) edited by Nicola Ingram, Jenny Thatcher, Ciaran Burke, and Jessie Abrahams .


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