Symbolic power and urban inequality: taking Bourdieu to town


Hosts:  the York European Centre for Cultural Exploration (YECCE) and the Centre for Urban Research (CURB)

Organisers: Mike Savage and Loïc Wacquant


The city remains the site of entrenched social and cultural divisions, which take new and acute forms in polarising urban environments. Although the economic dimensions of these are relatively well researched, they also involve a key symbolic and moral dimension, which will be the focus of this workshop. This workshop will explore the role of field analysis in developing conceptual tools for analysing urban inequality; reflect on the role of cultural capital and symbolic violence in urban space, and contribute to our understanding of the spatialisation of urban inequality

The event will comprise two linked sections. On the first day, leading scholars from across the world will be invited to give papers as part of the preparation of a special issue of a leading urban journal. For the workshop on the second day, there will be an open call for papers from any researcher wishing to contribute a paper on any of the themes listed here. Discussants and chairs will be arranged from amongst the speakers on the seminar on the first day.

Seminar 31 May 2012


Venue: The Tree House, Berrick Saul Building, University of York

09.00–09.30 - Registration

09.30–11.00 - Morning 1: Territorial segregation and seclusion and the spatialization of inequality in the city

  1. Franck Poupeau, Centre de Sociologie Europeenne, EHESS, Paris, A ‘chalet’ above the street. How indigenous elites shape urban environment in El Alto (Bolivia)
  2. Rowland Atkinson and Simon Parker, University of York, The autotomic city: The strategic ejection of unruly urban space
  3. Annick Prieur, University of Aalborg, Spatial and social divisions in a Danish city
  4. Discussant: Mike Savage, University of York oïcWacquant, University of Berkeley

11.00-11.30 - Refreshments

11.30-13.00 - Morning 2: Urban migration, ethnicity and precarity

  1. Sebastien Chauvin, University of Amsterdam, Urban space, hiring rituals, and the segmentation of precarity: multiple employers and worker loyalty in Chicago day labor.
  2. Alford Young, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, The changing nature of the street as a field for the public representation of low-income, urban-based African American men
  3. Philippe Bourgois, University of Pennsylvania, Primitive accumulation through violent habitus in the drug economy of the US inner city

          Discussant: LoïcWacquant, University of Berkeley

13.00-14.00 – Lunch

14.00-15.30 - Afternoon 1: urban policy and the remaking of city space

  1. Sylvie Tissot, Center for Urban Sociology, Paris, Exploring categories of classification of urban spaces: from French “banlieues” to American “historic” and “diverse” neighborhoods.
  2. Matt Desmond, Harvard Society of Fellows, Exploiting the inner city
  3. Suzanne Hall, London School of Economics: Fields of absence: Constructing a symbolic spatial order of inequality
  4. Discussant: Michael Keith, University of Oxford

15.30-16.00 - Refreshments

16.00-17.30 - Afternoon 2: Symbolic domination, cultural capital and the urban middle classes

  1. Mike Savage and Laurie Hanquinet, University of York, The urban mapping of cultural capital: a case study from Brussels.
  2. Maria-Luisa Mendez, University Diego Portales, Santiago de Chile, Mismatch, authenticity claims and the politics of urban inequality: middle class place making in Chile
    Discussant: Tim Butler, Kings College, University of London

17.45:Loïc Wacquant, University of California-Berkeley and CESSP-Paris- Taking Pierre Bourdieu to Town: Pertinence, Principles and Applications, Vanburgh College, V/045

Workshop 1 June 2012


Venue: Bowland Theatre, Berrick Saul Building

08.30-09.00 – Registration

09.00-10.30 – Session 1: Privilege and Power

Cody Trojan , University of California, A foreclosure crisis or a crisis of homeownership? Symbolic capital and the reproduction of racial privilege

Michaela Benson and Gary Bridge , University of Bristol, The middle classes and the cultural politics of local housing markets

Sonia Bookman , University of Manitoba, Urban brands, culture and social division: creativity, tension, and differentiation among middle class consumers

Discussant: Mike Savage , University of York

10.30-11.00 - Refreshments

11.00-13.00 – Session 2 : Urban Deprivation

Insa Koch , University of Oxford, The politics of law and order: Violence on a marginalised urban council estate

Luna Glucksberg , Goldsmiths University, ‘We was regenerated out!’ Recycling, regeneration and symbolic devaluation on the estates of South-East London

Lisa Mckenzie , University of Nottingham, Valued and de-valued working Class Identity in the UK Bob Jeffery , Sheffield Hallam University, They're all fucking top houses, but try and get me one': Gentrification, hysteresis and urban inequality

Discussant: Loïc Wacquant , University of Berkeley

13.00-13.45 - Lunch

13.45-14.45 – Session 3 : Methods

Michael McQuarrie , University of California, The rise and fall of community in urban governance: From politics to civic monoculture

Jørn Ljunggren and Patrick Lie Andersen , University of Oslo, Social, economic and cultural divisions in Norwegian cities:  Neighbourhood segregation in the period 1970-2006

Discussant: Annick Prieur , University of Aalborg

14.45-15.00 - Refreshments

15.00-17.00 – Session 4 : Urban Policy

Ian Cummins , Salford University, Policing, mental illness and the penal state

Yosha Wijngaarden , VU University Amsterdam, Urban deprivation and territorial stigmatization: The perils of the neighbourhood policy

Marcus Willcocks , St. Martins College, Graffiti and the “commons” of the city: Can informal practice nudge us towards more valued and more creative shared environments?

Discussant: Sylvie Tissot , Center for Urban Sociology, Paris

 16.30 -17. 00 – Round up and Close


 A few places are available to attend to seminar on the 31st of May and these will be handed out on a first-come-first served bases. The workshop on the 1st of June is open for everyone to attend.


  • Combined ticket for 31 May and 1 June: £150   
  • Concessions combined ticket for 31 May and 1 June: £75
  • 1 June only: £100   
  • Concessions 1 June only: £50                 
  • 31 May only: £100
  • Concessions 31 May only: £50
  • Conference dinner 31 May: £17.50

If you are interested to attend please register using the following link:

More information is available at News and events

Call for Papers

If you would like to submit a paper for the seminar/workshop please complete the form below.

Bourdieu paper submission form (MS Word , 40kb)

Please return this form to: Josine Opmeer, Department of Sociology, Wentworth College, University of York, Heslington, YORK, YO10 5DD,