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Undesirable affects: towards a materialist sociology of school violence

In Australia, almost all young people are required to attend school. It is widely accepted that education is fundamental to improving people’s lives, and society, so much so it is recognised as a universal human right. Yet school is not the same for everyone. As a former teacher, I am interested in better understanding how schools can be constraining in ways we don’t always realise, to help make them more enabling for all. My research is a close examination of the everyday operation of violence in two Victorian schools. Microviolence is understood here as subtle everyday practices which limit possibilities. I focus on how microviolence materialises, and its relationships with broader social patterns and cultural norms in constituting and maintaining other forms of violence in schools, such as structural, symbolic and epistemic. I investigate how people feel in different spaces around their schools, what is happening in those spaces, and how those spaces are experienced. In this way I aim to contribute to existing research in the sociology of education and the emerging sociology of violence, through providing empirical evidence and materialist analysis of microviolence in schools. Through understanding its operation in schools, we can work towards reducing it.

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