Bourdieu, language and classroom ethnography

Grenfell, Michael James (2008) Bourdieu, language and classroom ethnography. In, AERA 2008 Annual Meeting, New York, USA, 24 - 28 Mar 2008. 24pp, 1-24.


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This paper is located within a growing body of work that considers the techniques and substantive outcomes of applying the methodological approaches of the French social theorist, Pierre Bourdieu, to a range of educational topics (for example, see Grenfell 1996, for research on teacher education; Grenfell and Hardy, 2007 on educational aesthetics; and Grenfell 2007a and b, on education and social capital). In the present context, is addresses the way Bourdieu’s critical perspectives may be employed to illuminate issues of literacy in the classroom. In constructing its case for the deployment of a Bourdieusian methodology in classroom ethnography it includes a numbers of sub-themes. Firstly, its presents Bourdieu own approach to language and the thinking tools he developed in the course of his professional career. Secondly, it sets these tools within his ‘theory of practice’ and contrasts this approach with conventional classroom ethnographic techniques. Thirdly, it offers a 3-stage framework for using Bourdieu analytics and focuses the salient features of each. The framework is contrasted with other approaches to classroom ethnography and language research. Recent studies in literacy are also considered from this Bourdieusian perspective, as a way of indicating what has and has not been included in contemporary research in the field. Various features are highlighted. Some illustrations are also included from classroom dialogue in order to exemplify key aspects of a Bourdieusian analysis. Issues of learning and teaching are raised, including the relationship between the social and cognitive in language research. Finally, the implications of these finings and this approach are extended to a consideration of language policy in the USA and UK, and the paper examines the salient models of language enshrined in official curriculum documents. In conclusion the paper raises questions concerning the relationship between language research and practice and its implications for teacher education.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Keywords: bourdieu, language, classroom, ethnography, methodology
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2361 Curriculum
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Education > Social Justice and Inclusive Education
ePrint ID: 52022
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
26 March 2008Published
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2008
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 12:30

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