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Four Types of Symbolic Conflict

Simon Harrison
The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Vol. 1, No. 2 (Jun., 1995), pp. 255-272
DOI: 10.2307/3034688
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3034688
Page Count: 18
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Four Types of Symbolic Conflict
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Abstract

The aim of this article is to derive a theory of political symbolism from an analysis of symbolic conflict. By symbolic conflict I mean that dimension of political conflict which focuses on the manipulation of symbols. Drawing on a range of ethnographic examples, I argue that symbolic conflict is a type of competition for what Bourdieu calls symbolic capital, and that it can take four prototypical forms; it can concern either the valuation of political symbols, their production, their proprietorship, or their survival as emblems of political affiliations. These correspond to the four central properties of a political symbol, which are the four ways in which such a symbol can be manipulated so as to appropriate symbolic capital.

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