Symbolical Violence Against the Elderly As a New Form of Their Social Exclusion? a Few Reflections from the Research in Poland

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 11:15
Oral Presentation
Emilia KRAMKOWSKA, University of Białystok, Poland
Symbolical violence is one of the crucial categories in Pierre Bourdieu’s considerations. He understands it as a subtle form of manipulation or some kind of hidden control, thanks to which the dominant people teach those who are dominated their ideas, which are the only ones perceived as true in a specific culture. Bourdieu explains that symbolical violence is a conflict between habitus of different social groups. This great sociologist’s conception might be used to say that symbolical violence is a conflict of habitus of the younger generation and the elderly -in Poland - the post-war generation. Nowadays, there is a very strong focus on the youth and its attributes, such as beautiful look, physical attractiveness, vitality, strength, energy, etc. People who have such features receive positive feedback in society, unlike people who are far from the socially promoted ideas. Those people may experience social exclusion. One of the social groups that is at such a risk is the seniors. The rules and rights (habitus) that had been internalized by them in the process of socialization led to a concentration on different values than those cherished today. However, those seniors still have to find a new role for themselves in today’s body-oriented culture, while being subjected to various types of veiled manipulations.

On the basis of the research conducted in Poland among young people, middle-aged people, and elderly people, this paper will answer such questions as: is true to assume that seniors are experiencing symbolical violence in the context of their body? Do they feel social exclusion pressure in this aspect/area? If yes, how do they deal with it? Do the representatives of younger generations also see the risk of seniors’ social exclusion in relation to their body? Answers to these and other questions will be the content of this paper.