and Structure: On Agency and Jean-Claude Bourdieu Pierre Theory Passeron's Violence of Symbolic

GABRIELE LAKOMSKI College of Education, Universityof Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Theories which purport to explain the relationship between schooling and work, and the production and reproduction of social inequality, have occupied educators for some time. In this article, I examine a theory of socialization which recognizes as central the function of ideology in social and cultural reproduction: Pierre Bourdieu and Jean Claude Passeron's theory of symbolic violence (1977).1 This theory, while originating in France and dealing with the French education system, is part of a growing body of theories of reproduction which began to emerge in the wake of the reform movements in the sixties. As it became increasingly clear that the promises of liberal education reform were not to be fulfilled, political economists and radical educators charged that the objectives of progressive education could not be achieved in a capitalist society. They argued that equality of opportunity, more democratic social structures, and moral autonomy public schooling goals were impossible since the schools' function was the reproduction of a stratified labour force. This argument became best known in the work of Bowles and Gintis who maintained that liberal education reforms must fail because liberal ideology glosses over the correspondence between the relations of production and the relations of schooling. Education, in their account, "is best understood as an institution which serves to perpetuate the social relationships of economic life through which these patterns are set, by facilitating a smooth integration of youth into the labor force" (1976, p. 11). This was seen as taking place through the uncontested processes of schooling which taught pupils to internalize the hierarchically organized patterns of norms, behaviours, and values characteristic of the work place. In the accounts of reproduction which followed Bowles and Gintis' "Correspondence Theory" (CT), it is generally accepted that schooling does have a central role in the reproduction of the social relations of
? 1984 by the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Published byJohn Wiley & Sons, Inc. CCC 0362-6784/84/020151-13$04.00 14:2



production, and that there is, at a general level, some kind of correspondence between schooling and work. But while the principle is largely uncontested, critics have pointed out that CT fails to provide an adequate account of the processes and mechanisms through which social reproduction happens (see Apple, 1979; Giroux, 1981; Willis, 1981; Sarup, 1978). Guilty of a functionalist perspective which leads Bowles and Gintis to misrecognize effects as causes, CT implies that school children, in particular, are infinitely malleable and passive creatures upon whom the inescapable processes of schooling impress those norms and dispositions required of them in the work place. Rooted in the Althusserian notion of the economic structure as determinant "in the last instance" (Althusser, 1971, 1979), and entertaining, subsequently, a linear notion of cause in reproduction, from the top down, CT ends up with a deterministic conception of agency and social reproduction. The consequences for pedagogic action are severe, for not only had CT theorists berated what they considered to be well-intentioned but misguided educators for the futility of their progressive educational practices, they had also effectively theorized away any possible opening for change to take hold. If reproduction does happen in the manner described, and if children are as compliant and acquiescent as assumed by CT, then there are no prospects for changing oppressive structures. Wary of the politically reactionary consequences of CT's macrosociological approach and its overemphasis on the economic structure, theorists began to focus on what actually goes on in specific classrooms and schools (see Delamont, 1976; Sharp and Green, 1975; Willis, 1978; Anyon, 1981; McRobbie and McCabe, 1981) an ethnographic perspective made theoretically viable by the emergence of various interpretive approaches in the social sciences.2 The examination of the social relations of the classroom in terms of the everyday production, reproduction, and negotiation of meanings, and of the culture of the school, made it possible to conceive of existing conflicts, antagonisms, and forms of resistance to the ideology of the school as analytic tools. As a result, CT's notion of reproduction could be expanded. Once it was acknowledged that schools are relatively autonomous social sites, an important dimension had been gained in theorizing about social reproduction and possibilities for change. The theory of symbolic violence (TSV) is an example of a potentially more satisfactory account in that it incorporates this insight and emphasizes cultural production as necessarily mediating components facilitating total social reproduction. While sharing concerns with traditional functional analyses of education, TSV departs from them in at least three significant respects: (1) it examines how education functions to safeguard the dominant position of certain groups; (2) it emphasizes the unequal communication of the dominant culture; and (3) it defines the concept of socialization as occurring through misrecognition of the arbitrary nature of norms. Taking as their point of departure the fact of educational inequality, Bourdieu and Passeron view schools as conserving rather than liberating kinds of institutions. They argue that schools effectively perpetuate the



existing social structure in that they promote those students who enter equipped with cultural privileges and progressively eliminate others whose cultural capital differs significantly from that of the dominant group. Since educational institutions present as "natural" inequalities in educational outcomes which are based on "individual differences" and "merit," and demonstrated through objective testing procedures, the cooling-out process is not recognized as such. Rather, failure is attributed to personal inadequacy and accepted as "fate." Similarly, success for those students with cultural capital is equally accepted as natural by both the privileged and the subordinate. By portraying cultural inequalities (cultural capital) as the primary reason for the existence of social inequality, Bourdieu and Passeron argue, schools help to conceal the real nature of power inequalities (real capital) in the French social structure. Since pedagogic action is so successful in making arbitrary power relations appear as legitimate authority, the authors consider it a privileged object in the analysis of reproduction. They see their task as providing "a description of the objective processes which continually exclude children from the least privileged social classes." (Bourdieu, 1974, p. 32.) Accordingly, the theory of symbolic violence is considered to be scientific and objective. While Bourdieu and Passeron highlight an area of education research still largely unexplored by focussing on the socially constructed nature of symbol systems, their uncritical adoption of Althusser's notion of ideology has severe consequences for TSV. As a structuralist theory of socialization and reproduction, TSV preempts its own task by implicitly taking as unproblematic what is the very issue to be explained: namely that working-class children apparently accept, "of their own free will," their position at the bottom of the social order. Bourdieu and Passeron not only sever the dialectic between consciousness and structure as an historical process but leave us with structure and eliminate the category of human agency altogether. This is critical for a theory which appears to take a radical stance towards inequality. Since there is no account of agency but only abstract and invisible power relations which nevertheless directly determine reproduction; the theory of symbolic violence assumes a mechanistic and one-dimensional character. We are left with a theory of socialization which describes the unproblematic transmission of middle-class culture to middle-class children, a conception in which working-class children are, by definition, culture-less (see Bredo and Feinberg, 1979). Desite some valuable insights, the theory ultimately presents a structural closure, or as one commentator remarks, "an extremely cultured way of crying 'Help!' in the face of an over-determined vision" (Davies, 1976). In the following, I outline briefly the principal elements of the theory of symbolic violence and then turn to the discussion of those concepts considered most central for both the theory and this argument: "power" and "power relations," the term "arbitrary,"and the "habitus." I conclude with some preliminary remarks concerning the possibilities of human agency.



The argument presented in Reproductionrests on a premise which Bourdieu and Passeron consider fundamental for a theory of sociological knowledge: "Every power to exert symbolic violence, i.e., every power which manages to impose meanings ... as legitimate by concealing the power relations which are the basis of its force, adds its own specifically symbolic force to those power relations" (p. 4). It is important in the authors' view to stress the relative autonomy and dependence of symbolic relations with respect to power relations. The theory of symbolic violence consists of four major propositions and numerous subpropositions and glosses which deal respectively with pedagogic action (PA), authority (PAu), work (PW), and the educational system (ES). The first and most important one suggests that all pedagogic actions are symbolically violent insofar as they seek to impose arbitrary cultural meanings in the context of an arbitrary power relation (p. 5). By pedagogical actions, Bourdieu and Passeron understand all attempts at instruction, be they carried out in the family, school, or elsewhere. These attempts are considered symbolically violent insofar as the socializer has arbitrary power over the socializee, power which is rooted in the power relations between social classes and groups. By the term "arbitrary," the authors understand something that "cannot be deduced from any universal principle, whether physical, biological or spiritual" (p. 8). There is a second sense in which pedagogic action is objectively symbolic violence: the meanings which are selected for imposition are those of a particular group or class. The overall effect of the imposition, as Bourdieu and Passeron see it, is the reproduction of the structure of the distribution of cultural capital among the different groups and classes, and hence the reproduction of the total social structure. This is only possible if pedagogic action possesses "authority." Its authority exists precisely to the extent that neither its dependence on the power structure nor the nature of the culture to be imposed is recognized "objectively." Indeed, it is constantly misrecognized because pedagogic authority entails a conof education as "mere communication" even in nonauthoritarian, ception child-centered, and nonrepressive forms of education. Since pedagogic action is the chief instrument of turning power relations into legitimate authority, the authors contend that it presents a privileged object for the analysis of the social basis of the paradoxes of domination and legitimacy. Pedagogic action, insofar as it is symbolically violent, involves pedagogic work, i.e., a process of inculcation. Socialization results in what the authors call the "habitus." By this they understand a durable set of habits based on the internalized principles of the dominant culture. Once established, these habits, which are considered irreversible, perpetuate those very principles. The habitus is never explicit but consists of the tacit shared understandings of social actors. Because it operates beneath the surface of consciousness it provides a kind of "deep structure" (Bredo and Feinberg, 1979) which, in turn, shapes surface beliefs and attitudes. The function of the habitus is thus to safeguard long-term social reproduction through the construction of a Meadian "Self." In this way, social actors



successfully and smoothly reproduce their own misrecognition of domination. According to Bourdieu and Passeron, there is no possibility of breaking out of the circle. "The man who deliberates on his culture is already cultivated and the questions of the man who thinks he is questioning the principles of his upbringing still have their roots in his upbringing" (p. 37). While differences of attitude, belief, and opinion are possible and do occur, these are only apparent differences since they are produced by the same generative habitus. Pedagogic work is successful, the authors claim, when the habitus not only generates the practices of the dominant culture in a wide range of areas, but also reproduces them exhaustively. Since these practices are legitimated by pedagogic work, certain cultural products are also sanctioned as legitimate: the notion of intelligence as a student's "private property," for instance. Hence, the authors argue, the power structure is reproduced by the inculcation of internalized controls, a fact which, it is claimed, makes coercion superfluous. Finally, pedagogic work operates differently with different groups depending on their relative position vis-a-vis the dominant culture. The further removed a subculture is from the dominant habitus of "symbolic skills," for example, the more difficult is the task of teaching it. Rather than adjusting teaching methods and criteria to suit the subculture, teachers teach at the level of those already in possession of symbolic skills. Consequently, since teachers only need to treat children equally to maintain inequality, working-class children are doubly punished: while they lack the dominant culture to begin with, they are nevertheless measured and evaluated by its standards. Since these standards are believed to be "fair"and "objective,"neither parents nor children doubt their legitimacy. "Thus," Bourdieu comments, "by its own logic the educational system can help to perpetuate cultural privileges without those who are privileged having to use it" (1974: p. 42). While the theory of symbolic violence is an interesting contribution to the debate on the ideological function of culture as structuring and legitimating the system of social relations, its latent idealism and lack of explanatory power prevent it from formulating an adequate conception of how a transformative educational practice might be developed. In support of this argument, I now turn to the conception of "power" and "power relations," and to the meaning of the term "arbitrary," and the "habitus." Bourdieu and Passeron are concerned with "power" and "power relations," but critical as these concepts are, the reader is not provided with a conceptual or any other kind of analysis. The conception of "power" which is predominant in their discussion emphasizes its legitimating potential in relation to agents, actions, and products. In this sense, "power" means the same as authority. While the authors are correct in emphasizing the symbolic aspects of "power," they underplay it as the result of objective control of resources, and of sheer physical coercion. This neglect is rather obvious in the discussion of the education system. While schools are selfreproductive in the way Bourdieu and Passeron describe them, they can



only be so because they have the State's backing in the form of the compulsory attendance law. Since this institutional aspect remains quite abstract, power relations appear as immaterial and yet constitutive principles of the social order. A possible explanation might be found if we consider another post-structuralist's conception of power. While there is no direct reference, Bourdieu and Passeron's notion is quite similar to that of Michel Foucault (1980). For the latter, "power" is neither a group of institutions and mechanisms, nor a mode of subjugation, nor a general system of domination. Any analysis of "power," he argues, must not assume that either the state, or the law, or overall domination is given at the outset. They are only the terminal forms "power" takes. He continues: Power must be considered as the multiplicityof force relations immanent in the sphere in which they operate and which constitute their own organization ... Power'scondition of possibility,or in any case the viewpointwhich permits one to understand its exercise ... and which also makes it possible to use its mechanismsas a grid of intelligibilityof the social order, mustnot be soughtin the primaryexistence a centralpoint ... it is the moving substrate of force of relations which, by virtue of their inequality, constantly engender states of power. [Emphasisadded] [1980: p. 93]. Like Foucault, Bourdieu and Passeron seem to be saying: (1) "power" does not emanate from a fixed center, first principle, etc.; (2) "power relations" are always in process. Here the question arises, that if the state and the law are only the terminal forms of power, where does power itself have its roots? Willis (1981) is quite correct when he notes, "that original production of power is mythical, and, finally, an assumption which allows the hall of mirrors of culture to stand and reflect at all. We have a pre-given asserted structure of power which is then reproduced culturally" (p. 54). Post-structuralism, with its emphasis on the process of structuration, has not given a clear answer regarding its own foundations. This is a critical shortcoming for "power" is a central concept in the theory of symbolic violence. Since TSV purports to be materialist, it is essential that its foundations be made clear. Some additional insights are gained by considering the term "arbitrary." While the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines the term "arbitrary" as (1) dependent upon will or pleasure; (2) derived from mere opinion or preference; (3) unrestrained in the exercise of will, of uncontrolled power or authority, it also means "not based on the nature of things," a meaning acknowledged by Bourdieu and Passeron (p. 8). A possible further use of the term is as equivalent to "contingent." Support for this is found in the discussion of the "choices" which constitute a culture as arbitrary when compared to all present and past cultures, or to the (imaginary) universe of all possible cultures. The authors state that the choices "reveal their necessity as soon as they are related to the social conditions of their emergence and perpetuation" (p. 8). This may be interpreted to mean that the only kind of necessity (other than logical or biological) is one which is defined by the specificity of historically produced social conditions of existence. Indeed, Bourdieu and Passeron's orientation is critical of the "purely synchronic grasp of cultural facts," meaning loosely, of the ahistorical understanding of social facts which finds its logical con-



clusion in "genesis amnesia" (p. 9). But again, as we saw earlier in our discussion of "power", while the flavour is distinctly historical-materialist, the substance of materialism in terms of the production history, is absent. of The brief analysis of "arbitrary"shows that, in the end, there is no account of possible change. Specifically, the critical notion of human agency, of struggle over meanings and definitions which creates structure, is absent. Consequently, the dialectical mediation between actor and structure cannot even be raised as an issue. In side-stepping the problem of foundations, the theory of symbolic violence maintains its ambiguous character by insinuating a radical stance while hiding its objectivist nature. It assumes that social actors are merely the passive bearers of ideology who carry out its universal reproductive function. There is no mention of the subjective meanings actors place upon their experiences in given structures. The closest the authors come to capture that realm of shared meanings is, of course, the conception of the "habitus." But again, we are not given an explanation of how actors come to construct it in the first place. Indeed, the "habitus" is described in merely functional terms: it is "the equivalent, in the cultural order, of the transmission of genetic capital in the biological order" (p. 32). This notion assumes that (1) there are no competing bases of legitimacy, and (2) the behaviour and beliefs reproduced in working-class children are those of the dominant lasses, albeit in watered-down form. But from the fact that the habitus helps reproduce the dominant culture it neither follows that there are no competing bases of legitimacy, nor that the dominant culture is the only possible one. The first assumption ignores what has been called the "hidden" or informal curriculum, and that children respond to both what is being said in school, and how it is said (Eggleston, 1977). Bearing this distinction in mind, there are at least five ways in which children might respond to the ideology of the school: (1) The explicit message is believed and children experience no contradictions; (2) The explicit message is believed but there are also other messages which stand in contradiction to it. Children do not know which message is the "right" one. These tensions may lead to attitudes and behaviours such as (3) "I know what your game is; I will not play it, but rather play my own", or (4) "I know what your game is; I will play, and win!"3 Finally, there also may occur (5) Complete confusion resulting in "craziness," other serious mental disorders, and even suicide. Logically, none of these five options can be excluded in advance. Which particular option is chosen in practice is an empirical question. Bourdieu and Passeron present the first of these possibilities as the only one, and then maintain that it exists equally for working- and middle-class children, thus deciding the race before it ever got started. But we do not have to accept their radical defeatism and can develop



the outlines of a more constructive and active conception of agency in what follows. I noted in the beginning that, as a result of the criticisms of CT, theorists were directing their attention to the actual events in the classroom which facilitated recognition of conflicts, antagonisms, and opposition to the ideology of the school. The most detailed account of how children do experience contradictions and tensions in the dominant ideology is Paul Willis' (1978) rich ethnography.4 Willis argues that a group of working-class children, "the lads," not only do not accept the dominant ideology but actually develop antagonistic strategies in what he describes as "counter-school culture." He shows that the import of these strategies is not known in any theoretical or conscious sense, but is expressed in working-class specific visual, stylistic, and behavioural forms. This is to say that there are actual, however diffusely expressed, resistances to the imposition of the dominant culture which are rooted in the dominated culture. In these interactions there are moments when children catch a glimpse of their real position at the bottom of the social structure. But these "penetrations" are never more than impulses since they always encounter "limitations," i.e., "those blocks, diversions, and ideological effects which confuse and impede the full development and expression of these impulses" (Willis, 1978: p. 119). According to Willis, these acts of defiance presuppose agency and a cultural realm different from the dominant one. But while the rejection of the school's ideology is evidence of "resistance" it also affirms the status and role of the dominated which fids its logical conclusion in the neat insertion into manual labour. Commenting on the outcome of his study, Willis notes at the conclusion of his book, "This may not be the Millenium but it could be Monday morning. Monday morning need not imply an endless succession of the same Monday mornings" (1978: p. 192). It need not, but given the nature of his argument, it does. In focussing on the oppositional practices of the lads, Willis' notion of agency captures the moments of contestation and struggle, insights which are lacking in Bourdieu and Passeron's notion of "habitus." But like the latter, Willis' conception, too, leads to reproduction, a result, which far from being paradoxical, follows from his treatment of "resistance." He accepts, with apparent innocence that the lads' showy oppositional practices are practices of resistance to the reproduction of oppression: Willis commits the ethnographic error of "going native." He does not conceive of "resistance" as an historical, dialectical notion, and can therefore take appearances for essences. This misrecognition leads, a vengeance. then, quite logically, to reproduction-with Not only do the lads willingly affirm their own oppression, they continue to be veritable oppressors within their own class by exercising their racist and sexist practices. By choosing to withhold their learning power, the lads turn their backs on essential intellectual tools which would enable them to acquire skills and concepts necessary to develop a self-conscious and theoretical account of their social position and oppression. And yet, they are portrayed as the only group which "penetrates" the official ideology, no matter how spuriously, and in whom the possibility for trans-



formation is placed. Recalling the distinctions I made earlier, the lads are examples of the third category; they play their own game-and lose. Willis does not even consider the possibility that students may actually "play the game," and win! But it is precisely this possibility which can be found even in his own ethnographic material. I wish to draw attention to two other groups mentioned in the study, groups whose significance for reproduction theory has not been sufficiently recognized. The groups in question are the "ear 'oles," or "lobes," i.e., the conformists, and the "marginals," those on the outskirts of the counter-school culture. The ear-holes are, like the teachers, the natural enemies of the lads, and they are described as follows: It seems that they are alwayslistening, never doing: never animatedwith their own internal life, but formless in rigid reception. The ear is one of the least expressive organs of the human body: it responds to the expressivityof others ... That is how "the lads" liked to picture those who conformed to the official idea of schooling [Willis, 1978: 14]. The conformists' response to the lads is generally one of fear, jealousy, and anxiety. The lads might disrupt the normal flow of learning, which means interfering with their investment. But while the conformists accept the official definition of schooling Willis also notes in passing, "although this is the conventional response, it is not realized or 'won' in its own terms without hard work, a degree of rationality and personal commitment" (1978: p. 99). Tony, an "ear'ole," is quoted as saying, "we've had to face up to the fact that we've got to come to school. We've got to do
the work, else you wouldn't get on. So you more or less train yourself to be

likethat(1978: p. 99, emphases added). The implications and consequences of this kind of training are most interesting when these students get into the work force. Willis writes: While conformists are preferred for "skilled"work, when they enter more humdrum work unaided by culturalsupports,diversions,and typicalhabituated

as patterns of interpretation theycan be identifiedby thosein authority morethreatening and less willing to accept the established status quo. For these boys still believe, as it

were, in the rubricof equality,advance through merit and individualismwhich the school has more or less unproblematically passedon to them. Thus, although there is no surface opposition, no insolent manner to enrage the conventional onlooker, neither is there a secret pact, made in the reflex moment of an oppositional style, to accept a timeless authority structure: a timeless "us and them." Consequently,these kids are more likely to expect real satisfactionan,l the possibilityof advance from their work. They expect authority relations, in frequently with a real unhappiness in an individual unrelieved by a social diversion, make the conformistvery irksomeand "hardto deal with."In manual and semi-skilledjobs, then, those in authority often prefer "the lads" to the 'ear'ole'type [1978: p. 110, emphases added].
the end, to reflect only differences in competence. All these expectations, coupled

Finally, the last group, those who fall between the categories, also appear to suffer the most. Since they are neither "ear'oles" nor "lads", they are ignored by the first and despised by the last. According to Willis, the lack of a shared cultural involvement "removes an important mediation between the self and work. Where that work is basically mindless and



repetitive, it more relentlessly racks and twists the unprotected human sensibility" (1978: p. 112). This separates the "marginals" from the lads whose boisterous affirmation and extrinsic satisfaction buffer subjective feelings to a much higher degree. Consequently, the former encounter manual labour in its raw immediacy, unprotected by layers of shopfloor culture. They also keep themselves separate from the lads whom they dislike. Summing up, it seems that all three groups choose to resist the practices of the school in some form.5 The conformists do not simply internalize the dominant ideology: their conformity is the result of deliberate, selfconscious action based on the "correct" insight that, in order "to get on" one has to comply with the demands of the school, at least in appearance.6 The lads opt for open resistance, and, as far as we can determine from Willis' account, the "marginals"opt for keeping themselves to themselves. In order to avoid misunderstandings, it is necessary to point out that agents are not conceived as Kantian autonomous egos availing themselves of "free" choices. Rather, agents are complex, material entities whose range of choices depend on their social, psychological, and behavioural dispositions which, in turn, are bounded by the specific sets of historical material conditions in which they occur. What constitutes a choice, then, is dependent on one's repertoire of conceivable and practicable options. The repertoire may be decreased or increased depending on agents' changing life situations, in other words, we can learn to do things differently. While this is a concrete possibility, it does not follow that agents necessarily do learn to do things differently, although they may be forced to under certain circumstances, nor does it entail that doing things differently means doing them better. What emerges from these considerations is that of the possible options only some are perceived as options by agents.7 In this sense one can consider choice as "determined." In our specific case, we can argue that the conformists and the lads chose the way they did because those options seemed appropriate to deal with their problems.8 Agency, in this account, means that agents weigh their options in relation to specific problems. They may, of course, be mistaken about the appropriateness of their choices. Whether or not specific options have reproductive or nonreproductive consequences (where "reproduction" is understood as the "reproduction of oppression") cannot be determined a priori. It follows that we have to grant that all agents "resist" the manifest material contradictions in their lives, and indeed transform their situations. This does not exclude that some forms of resistance can be resistance to the reproduction of oppression, but this need not necessarily be so. Change, then, does occur in the social structure as ongoing, possibly violent, processes. It is appropriate to speak of transformation as largely (but not exclusively) small-scale, locally-produced, and more wide-spread occurrences than commonly assumed by radical theorists. Only the lived consequences of agents' actions will show, in the end, whether or not any or all were indeed politically progressive or reactionary. In the meantime, we are not absolved from theorizing about democratic educational practice.



It has to be done, and in doing so, we cannot assume that our "expert" social science knowledge is superior to the common sense knowledge of the people we theorize about. In my view, the central task for educators is to teach students that there are alternative accounts which explain their social positions in terms of class, race, and gender. Those accounts may provide students with more powerful epistemic tools which not only help them understand the production of their own histories, but also enable them to conceive of new and different ways of doing things. Rather than proposing a theory which gives no power to the people, or one which concedes some power to some people, my proposal is that power is the property of all people. NOTES
1. Reproductionin Education, Society and Culture. Translated by Richard Nice, Sage Studies in Social and Educational Change, 5, (London: Sage, 1977). Page

references in the text refer to this edition.

2. For a good discussion on some critical, theoretical issues of ethnographic work in relation to schooling see "PartI: Social Theory and the Study of Schooling". T. S. Popkewitz and R. Tabachnik (Eds.) The Study of Schooling-FieldBased Mathodologiesin Education Research and Evaluation. (N.Y.: Praeger Studies in Ethnographic Perspectives on American Education, 1981). 3. It is rather amazing that in contemporary theories of reproduction the option of winning is absent, even as a speculation. I am greatly indebted to James C. Walker, of the University of Sydney, for having drawn my attention to the counterproductive defeatism of much contemporary radical theorizing, and for much of the account of agency which concludes this paper. 4. His study has been challenged (in the British context) by Angela McRobbie and T. McCabe's work on adolescent females in Feminismfor Girls:An Adventure Story.(London: RKP, 1981) McRobbie takes him to task over his lack of attention to sexism. A recent ethnography which does challenge the radical posture of Willis' and McRobbie's work and expands it theoretically isJ. C. Walker'sFootballers, Poofs, Puffheads and Wogs: An EthnographicStudy of AdolescentMales in the Inner

City.(Sydney: Mell Associates, 1983). Forthcoming.

5. I am assuming here that the marginal group also resist at school. We encounter them in Willis' study mainly in the workforce, that is after transition. 6. In the light of this assessment, the conformists' resistance to the lads' pranks and general unruliness, is quite logical since the lads threaten their futures by threatening their learning. One might well ask which form of resistance is the more progressive: the lads' which leads to negative consequences for themselves, and for their fellow oppressed, particularly women, or the conformists' who gain control over their own learning, and whose insertion into the work force appears not only more disruptive but also potentially challenging to the relations of production. 7. Thus I do not think that one of Anthony Giddens' most central arguments regarding agency, namely, that the agent "could have acted otherwise," is tenable if he thinks that "could" denotes a real psychological possibility. If, on the other hand, "could" merely indicates a logical possibility, then no harm is done. But since Giddens abstains twice (1979, 1981) from clarifying this matter, his conception of agency leaves one in a quandry. We can easily produce counterexamples where agents could not have acted otherwise. A case in point is that of battered women who return, and keep returning, to their abusive husbands. One very interesting



explanation for this phenomenon is the concept of "learned helplessness" whose roots may be found partly in early gender socialization. This means, of course, that helplessness can be un-learned given a supportive environment. On this issue see M. Hendricks-Matthews "The Battered Woman: Is She Ready for Help?" Social Casework,63, 3, (March) 1982, pp. 131-137. 8. While I employ Deweyean concepts, I am not obliged to, and indeed do not, accept Dewey's naturalism. My own position is much more akin to what R. Rorty (1980) calls "epistemological behaviorism" meaning that there are no privileged representations of reality (including that of Marxism), and that the social practices of justification are both necessary and sufficient conditions of knowledge. REFERENCES
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