Symbolische Gewalt und Habitus-Struktur-Konflikte. Entwurf einer Heuristik zur Analyse und Bearbeitung von Konflikten

Saved in:
Bibliographic Details
Published in:CCS Working Papers (Band 2)
Main Author: Schmitt, Lars
Format: Article
Published: Philipps-Universität Marburg 2006
Online Access:PDF Full Text
Tags: Add Tag
No Tags, Be the first to tag this record!

The field of peace and conflict studies is characterized by certain boundaries: In general terms, researchers differentiate between normative and analytical approaches as well as between structuralist, culturalist and actor oriented concepts. These different perspectives are typically indicated by different notions of conflict and violence, thereby often leading to an analytical separation between conflict analysis and conflict resolution. Lars Schmitt’s working paper takes this constellation as a starting point to develop a new perspective for the analysis and transformation of conflicts. His analytical heuristic, the so called habitus-structure conflicts, attempts to overcome these oppositions which are considered untenable from an epistemological viewpoint. Based on the socioanalysis of Pierre Bourdieu, this heuristic is presented as a hermeneutic circle indicating the interrelation of social inequality and power relations on the one and conflicts on the other hand. Symbolic violence can be seen here as a functional principle of society: It allows society to reproduce itself by keeping conflicts at a latent level. Depending on their respective group affiliation, the chances of individuals at securing decent standards of living are unequally distributed. Yet this inequality is unlikely to erupt into (direct) violence. This applies for at least two reasons. First, habitus and structure are inherently linked to each other. Individuals internalize inequality at an early stage (habitus); as a result, they tend not to conceive of situations in which inequalities materialize (structure) as illegitimate. Second, the unequal distribution of chances to secure a decent living is mediated by symbols and “naturalized” during that process. Individuals realize that hierarchies exist; due to the plurality of symbols and the possibility to choose between them, however, they perceive them as naturally given, as based on merit, as just. As a consequence, the social genesis of inequality remains unacknowledged and potential class conflicts are transformed into individualized competitions in social fields, intrapersonal psychic conflicts or violence against scapegoats. The key concept of habitus-structure conflicts is able to frame these different conflicts within a society and to relate them to the underlying symbolic violence. In the conclusion, Lars Schmitt illustrates that uncovering the hidden mechanisms of power may not only lead to emancipatory effects at the individual level, but is also a prerequisite for mediating intercultural conflicts.