Maintaining the status quo: symbolic violence in higher education

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Journal Article
Higher Education Research and Development, 2015, 34 (3), pp. 658 - 670
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© 2014 HERDSA. Government policies and financial imperatives have fostered growing heterogeneity in student bodies in UK and Australian higher education (HE), but the underpinning logic of practice in these long-established social fields is far slower to change. Drawing on empirical evidence from case studies in each nation, this paper examines the tensions between the espoused and enacted values of the academy in relation to the widening participation and internationalisation agendas. We describe the research sites, their relationships with their respective fields of power and the experiences of participants as inhabitants of these HE fields. We highlight the struggles to secure relevant capital, acts of symbolic violence occurring at both institutional and programme levels and the resultant impact on individual positions and trajectories within the fields. Finally, we consider the extent to which the established practices in HE, which naturally preserve the dominance of the dominating factions, are likely to shift to enable it to genuinely enact the social conscience it espouses.
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