Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The Acceptance of Class Inequality: Part 1

Section 1: Bourdieu and the Acceptance of Inequality

1.1 Bourdieu and the Racism of intelligence

Racism in its most communal form exist as a confrontation between individuals belonging to two or more groups or 'peoples' whereby an exchange of powers and battles of ideology produces a relationship based upon an 'un-mutual' acceptance of an 'other'. In a sense people can live within the vicinity of another type or ethnicity of person without acknowledging/accepting their civil liberties and/or cultural qualities. Racism has evolved over time to merge acts of resistance and superiority into more than one's ethnicity or biology – racism acts in process, it requires action and certain provoking trains of thought which appear in other forms of discrimination. Bourdieu took the idea of racism to another realm of social discourse by applying its attributes to class in the form of the racism of intelligence. He asserts that racism is plural, and is used as a tool of justification, a way for groups to vindicate their own existence and indeed the domain in which they exist (i.e. social position). The racism of intelligence accordingly possess similar attributes to that of the racism of one's ethnicity or creed in that a dominant group hold a precedence over another by subjecting them to stigmatisation, falsities and prejudice. Bourdieu seamlessly outlines how the racism of intelligence is characteristic of a dominant class within society, he states:

“This racism is characteristic of a dominant class whose reproduction depends to a large extent on the transmission of cultural capital, an inherited capital that has the property of being embodied, and therefore apparently natural, innate, capital” (1993: 177).

This is where the justification lies, deeply embedded within the object of the dominant class. A way of maintaining social order by deception to prove that power, leadership and privilege are derived from forces outside the control of an individual (i.e. the lottery of being born). Essentially the dominant class feel themselves superior, a higher form of being with the right and authority over life’s up-most complexities and afflictions.

Racism has evolved how as an active force it penetrates sectors of society in which it is to some extent inconspicuous – existing at the unconscious and conscious level – focusing upon an individual’s merit and discriminating on grounds of the superiority of one's education and 'culture'. For Bourdieu a problem exists in the strong censorship of the 'most brutal forms of racism', 'so that the racist impulse can only be expressed in highly euphemised forms' (1993: 177). This becomes apparent in the use of language, using language in the expression of racism, for example using sentiments and metaphor without directly expressing a direct racist view. Racism at this level of consciousness may then be open to interpretation as its euphemistic form manipulates the underlying meaning within an expression of an individual’s point of view. In addition, individuals active in racism can hide their oppressive opinion behind a veil of euphemism, adhering to the forms of censorship which prevent the open expression of sinewy racist views while still getting a message across to the wider audience. What must also be considered here is whether certain individuals take notice of their own racism and to what extent they believe their racism to be real or misrepresentation of their character/psychology.

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