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Using Bourdieu's theory of practice to understand academic under achievement among inner-city students in British Columbia: A conceptual study

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ed.D.
Date created
Author: Brar, Victor
This is a conceptual study borne out of an ongoing practitioner inquiry in which I, as a practicing teacher, am trying to understand, on a theoretical level, why the children at my inner-city school repeatedly underperform in an academic sense in spite of being provided with additional resources. The achievement gap that exists between British Columbia’s inner-city children and their more affluent peers cannot be adequately explained by differences in finances alone, but it has sociological roots, which I explore in this study. To understand the achievement gap I have chosen to filter it through Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of practice and evaluate the effectiveness of his theory in being able to effectively explain the who, what, where, when, why, and how of this problem, which has been persistent for me as an inner-city educator. I utilized the interpretive approach of hermeneutics to fuse my horizon with that of Bourdieu so as to develop a deep understanding of his theory of practice and its core concepts of cultural capital, habitus, field, and symbolic violence, and their implications for inner-city school children. Hermeneutics permitted me to uncover multiple layers of theoretical evidence that I used ultimately to make an inductive argument that finds in favor of using theory of practice to understand academic underperformance among British Columbia’s inner-city school children. After concluding that theory of practice can be an effective heuristic for understanding the achievement gap, I made a number of recommendations with respect to how it has transformed my praxis (practical action) and phronesis (practical wisdom), and how it can help other teachers who work in British Columbia’s inner-city schools, as well as the students and parents with whom they work.
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This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
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Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: MacKinnon, Allan
Thesis advisor: Johnson, Larry
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