Since the end of apartheid, several policies have been put in place in an attempt to address the inequalities that were brought about. Land reform policy and Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) have contributed to closing the poverty gap. There are, however, less apparent effects of apartheid which have persisted despite these policies.
Oppression does not only leave a long-lasting impact on one’s economic standing, but has also been shown to have lingering effects on one’s psychological state, frequently extending to later generations.
Transgenerational trauma has been observed in descendants of the Holocaust victims (Starman, 2006), an event which ended decades before the end of apartheid. This would suggest that the psychological impact of apartheid is still very much in effect.
Symbolic violence is the domination over a group of people through the use of certain ideologies, and is reliant on the internalisation and acceptance of these ideas as correct by the oppressed collective. The effects of symbolic violence and its contribution to race and class oppression has been studied worldwide, and seems to be most prevalent in the education system.
Addressing these issues in the fundamental phases of childhood (i.e. early schooling) will ideally ensure that people grow up with knowledge of the structural inequalities working against them, and will disrupt the status quo, rather than maintain it.
Croizet et al (2017) state that the education system is fraught with unwritten cultural norms, biased towards the middle-class student. Students entering the system with a familiarity of the arbitrarily dominant language use, behaviours, and assumed knowledge have the advantage of cultural capital.
Students with this capital are usually perceived as intellectually superior.
Working-class students are made to feel as though their performance is due to a lack of academic ability, rather than poor accessibility caused by a system catering to the dominant culture. Informing these disadvantaged students of the pre-existing cultural capital fellow students have may be enough to prevent “upward social comparison and a corresponding sense of intellectual inadequacy” (Croizet et al, 2017, p. 108).
McGillicuddy and Devine (2017) surveyed teachers across Ireland to determine which factors lead to ability grouping of students. The practice was most commonly found in DEIS band 1 schools (marginalised schools most in need of government assistance).
This division of ability causes comparisons between peers and impacts self-image. Implicit bias of educators was identified as a significant problem. Learners in lower-ability groups are assumed to be disinterested and problematic, alienating them and discouraging them from working harder as poor performance is the “norm” expected of them.
Through focus groups and interviews conducted over a 5-year period, Kennelly (2017) found that low-income youth from two different Olympic games host cities shared experiences of symbolic violence. Both sets of youth interviewed were conscious of the excessive expenditure and structural violence associated with the event.
However, due to the overpromising of jobs, especially for working-class citizens (characteristic of both the Olympic Games and FIFA World Cup), they also felt a sense of inferiority and personal responsibility when faced with unemployment. This suggests that one may still be complicit in symbolic violence, without being compliant.
The youth also claimed to have intentionally avoided the crowds of tourists during the Olympic games. This occurred as organisers put security measures into place, displacing low-income citizens in an effort to “clean up” the city (Kennelly, 2017, p.156-157). Adjusting their habitus played to the benefit of the event’s organisers, thus maintaining the status quo.
Symbolic violence can occur even when one possesses valuable cultural capital, Ibrahim (2011) noted when following the experiences of Francophone African students in a French-language Canadian school. Despite their fluency in French, these youth were commonly placed in standard level classes, and made to prove themselves more significantly before being allowed to enroll in higher level classes.
The resulting crisis of identity can be attributed to the concept of “deceptive fluency” (Bourdieu, 1991), as educators believed their linguistic abilities to be an anomaly rather than an indication of the students’ capability.
Additionally, decisions made by the school were frequently done with no consideration for the minority group students (such as forbidding midday Muslim prayer, since the majority of staff were Christian and therefore not affected). The students claimed to feel voiceless as a result.
Herr and Anderson (2003) – violence in black schools. The authors of the reviewed literature agree that symbolic violence works to reproduce social inequalities. School teachers, especially those with marginalized students, have been identified as specialized agents of the education system, and have the responsibility to ensure that children from every background are given fair opportunity.
Education is widely regarded as a means to improve one’s circumstances. Until students are aware of the advantage that cultural capital provides to the middle-class, and the structural inequalities that make this capital the (arbitrary) default are addressed, adolescents from minority groups and working-class families will not be able to fully realise the benefits of education.
In many cases, divisions of race and class overlap, particularly when the matter of symbolic violence is considered. Minority groups usually comprise a large portion of the working-class, and in South Africa, the vast majority of black citizens form the working class, a result of the apartheid era which has yet to be resolved.
Humanitarian, usually relies on anecdotes from interviews, mainly talks about schools – no evidence of bad parenting
Good – Olympics article has kids of different races – can see it’s a class issue. To quote the 1986 musical film Little Shop of Horrors “Better ourselves? You heard what he said – better ourselves? Mister, when you’re from Skid Row, ain’t no such thing.”
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