The naturalization of English: Using Bourdieu's concepts of cultural capital, symbolic power, and pedagogical action to analyze Canadian language policies

  • Farra Yasin


Although the concepts cultural capital, symbolic power, and pedagogical action were originally applied to describe how education reproduces social relations in France, Bourdieu’s sociological framework can be applied to illustrate the pervasive connection between language and colonialism in Canada. When applied to an analysis of the history of Canadian settlement and
education practices between 1755 and until the present, these concepts demonstrate how colonial relations are reproduced through policies, educational programming and practices that
inflate the value of English as the official language of Canada. While Bourdieu’s concepts provide an analytical framework to illustrate how colonialism operates and why language continues to
have an impact on the economic outcomes of Indigenous People and immigrants, the framework on its own tends to be socially deterministic and requires decolonizing strategies to support
interventions that will encourage equitable language policy, programming and practice.