Having noted that some use of Bourdieusian concepts in educational research is superficial, this paper offers a view of the distinctiveness of Bourdieu’s concepts via the example of misrecognition, which is differentiated from the concept with the same name in Fraser’s work. An account is given of a recent research project on white middle-class identity and school choice, which suggests that whilst parents avoided a common misrecognition (regarding school quality), they were nevertheless reliant on other forms of misrecognition (regarding the qualities of their children) that are equally important in the relationship between social class and educational inequalities. Finally, the paper suggests that educational understandings, including some educational research, are predisposed to misrecognise Bourdieusian concepts, and four areas of tension are identified. The paper argues against ‘light usage’ of Bourdieu whilst acknowledging that the approach can produce a pessimistic account that is at odds with some educational values.
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