Cultural Studies Terms/Symbolic Power

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We often associate power with direct physical power but it also has to be understood in broader cultural and symbolic terms, including the power to represent someone or something in a certain way –within a certain “regime of representation”. It includes the exercise of symbolic power through representational practices. Symbolic power is the way in which an exhibition constructs and persuades meaning through demonstrating a path through meaning. Symbolic power is inevitable and located around the author and is therefore under individual control.

Pierre Bourdieu e.g. defines symbolic power as “the power to make people see and believe certain visions of the world rather than others.”

2.Related Term:

institutional power


Bourdieu, Pierre (1991). Language and symbolic power. Cambridge : CUP.

Hall, Stuart (2003).Representation: Cultural Representations and signifying practices. London, Thousand Oaks, New Deli: The Sage Publications.