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Bilingual education and Sign language as the mother tongue of Deaf children - page 38 / 99

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Not helpless victims - active complicity

This tallies with Pierre Bourdieu’s approach to symbolic power and the relationship between dominant and dominated groups:

To understand the nature of symbolic power, it is therefore crucial to see that it presupposes a kind of active complicity on the part of those subjected to it. Dominated individuals are not passive bodies to which symbolic power is applied, as it were, like a scalpel to a corpse. Rather, symbolic power requires, as a condition for its success, that those subjected to it believe in the legitimacy of power and the legitimacy of those who wield it. (Thompson 1991, 23)

We need research that can unmask some of this complicity, and the ‘forces’, such as a government’s strategic goals and means, in order to reach a deeper understanding of how language policy fits into and constitutes the wider picture (Phillipson, in press).

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