Galvanising Bourdieu’s typology with Pakistani education and social class

complex social structures of society. His main theoretical tools are habitus, fields, and different forms of capital. The purpose of developing the main argument is to understand the concepts and how they are used in the educational achievements of students coming from a rural or an urban background, and performing differently in Pakistan. However, it is pertinent to consider the theoreti­cal lens of Bourdieu to acknowledge his stance on sociological concerns. Moreover, the concepts of Bourdieu are analogous to explain the condi­tioning of students towards learning and achievements in Pakistan. 

Bourdieu’s (1990) major theoreti­cal work is habitus. The conditioning that is associated with a particular class of conditions of existence pro­duce habitus, a system of strong, permutable nature, and structured constructs to work as developing structures, and principles that pro­duce and accumulate practices, and represent which is adopted objec­tively to seek outcome assuming pre­supposed results or without showing mastery skills to operate and achieve. Habitus describes the structure of education embodied by the students. It is internalised and adopted by the students which is inculcated, ini­tially, by parents and, later teachers. However, the setting is either rural or urban. Despite the differences in the available social structures i.e., rural and urban schools, colleges, and universities, students tend to pursue the dispositions, per­ceive the external world, and act accordingly to meet the expectations in Pakistan. 

Furthermore, it is believed that the behaviour of students is not determined by the educational insti­tutions rather by the social structure, rural and urban society, where they were borne, bred, and socialised. Thus, the primary habitus of students induced in childhood is more durable to learn behaviours regarding so­cial structure rather than learned at a later stage. For example, gender, a primary habitus learned, always re­mains the same. Bourdieu asserted that habitus is not the only product of social structure rather reproduces structure simultaneously. Habitus can shape and produce practice or prac­tices in a given condition. It is, further, elaborated in the study context that students from rural and urban back­grounds may bring changes to certain behaviours to ensure coexistence and avoid maladjustment in a new set­ting. After spending some time, stu­dents from rural backgrounds adopt the new environment and, gradually, become part of the new structure and perform better in Pakistan.

Habitus has also been elaborated in connection with capitals. So, it is im­portant to discuss the field of educa­tion to magnify the outcomes which grow out of the connection between habitus and fields, as the actions are the result of interrelations of habitus, fields, and capitals. However, practice doesn’t originate itself but develop out of the interrelationship of habi­tus, fields, and capitals. 

Educational institutions vary in ru­ral and urban areas, and students of rural areas are supposed to join pub­lic schools while urban students have a variety of schools in the private sec­tor in Pakistan. This disparity may lead to differences in the educational achievements of students in tertiary education in Pakistan. Fields do not exist without capital; various forms of fields and capital exist.

Bourdieu has given four forms of cultural capital i.e., economic, cultur­al, social, and symbolic. Here, it deals with cultural capital that further ex­ists in three forms. i.e., embodied, objectified, and institutionalised. The first type of capital is embodied that exists in the form of inherent qualities found in the physical and cognitive abode of humans i.e., body and mind. The second form is objectified that exists in the form of material goods i.e., journals, books, pictures, diction­aries, instrumental and mechanical nature. The third form is institution­alised educational qualifications. 

I employed the theoretical lens of Bourdieu in my PhD research work to explain the diversified dispositions found among the students towards educational inequality in higher edu­cation in Pakistan. 

I found that students from both rural and urban areas have different characteristics and act according to the learned behaviours in the set­ting of urban and rural social struc­tures of Pakistan. It is observed that urban and rural structures have a profound impact on the exposition of behaviour among the students in higher education in Pakistan. Cultural capital is “what makes the games of society . . . something other than a game of chance”. The diversity in the achievements of the students refers to cultural capital that demonstrates the high status of those who possess it.

The schools endow and reinforce cultural ability. As it is transmit­ted by higher socio-economic status (SES), parents eternalise the respec­tive social advantages. Objectified represents the resources of educa­tion at home like reading materials and learning facilities) as well as cultural resources like literature and artworks. The learners who are from privileged backgrounds learn the values, perceptions, dispositions, knowledge, and skills from the teach­ers as they value such resources at the educational institutions. 

All of these traits are transferred through schooling while teachers expect students to come up with advanced skills to represent capa­bilities.


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