Formal and informal body pedagogies: Exploring the fields of school and family as spaces for (re)production of physical culture

Year: 2012

Author: Dagkas, Symeon, Quarmby, Thomas

Type of paper: Refereed paper


We live in a totally pedagogized society (Bernstein, 2002, cited in Evans & Davies, 2006, p. 805) where pedagogic practices are evident in every site of life such as in a family and school sites. According to Tinning (2010), cultural transmissions, exchanges, and (re)production of cultural values constitute informal pedagogic practices. This paper draws on the work of Bourdieu in an effort to explore the ways in which formal and informal pedagogies within the fields of school and family shape young people's discourses of body pedagogies and embodied subjectivities. Family and school fields are hierarchically structured in terms of economic capital (usually lying with the parent(s)) and cultural or symbolic capital and its values within that field. The current study reports on the voices of 25 participants from one secondary school in West Midlands, UK, and employed a qualitative methodology to understand the influence of school, family and class on young people's understanding, meaning and agency with regard to physical culture and body pedagogies. Drawing on an interpretive perspective, data presented here take the form of semi structured paired interviews. The school postcode was used in conjunction with the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD): a UK Government measure of deprivation. Given the interpretive approach, a thematic analysis was employed to assist with the analyses. The results illustrate that the family operates as a ?micro pedagogical field where personal histories and prevailing social circumstances exert a strong influence on children's embodied physicalities. Cultural transmissions within and between the two fields influenced pedagogical orientations and embodied practices. In addition the study suggests that family and school are interrelated fields and influential in shaping body pedagogies. This interrelation provided opportunity for more manipulation of an individual's habitus, affecting the accrual of capital. Although the school and family are definitive social fields and sites of production of body pedagogies neither can be considered in isolation. Furthermore, the study highlights the importance of interaction between schools and society and sensitizes us to explore further the different fields and the ways they constitute specific body pedagogies and physical culture. It is, therefore, important to understand what constitutes ?the family as a field and the way pedagogic practices shape embodied dispositions toward physical activity and health in this field.