symbolic violence

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1. Bourdieu's term for the imposition on subordinated groups by the dominant class of an ideology which legitimates and naturalizes the status quo: see also dominant ideology; compare interpellation.

2. For Gerbner, the representation of physical violence in any medium, though his own concern is television, where such representations are seen as influencing the assumptions of heavy viewers about social reality: see cultivation theory. ‘Symbolic violence… is a show of force and demonstration of power’ showing ‘who can get away with what against whom.’ It functions as an instrument of social control that tends to maintain the existing social order: see also violence debate.

Subjects: Media Studies.

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