The Monstrous 'White Theory Boy': Symbolic Capital, Pedagogy and the Politics of Knowledge

Burton, S V A. 2015. The Monstrous 'White Theory Boy': Symbolic Capital, Pedagogy and the Politics of Knowledge. Sociological Research Online, 20(3), pp. 167-177. ISSN 1360-7804 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article presents a critical uncovering of the continued dominance of whiteness and maleness in processes and practices of knowledge formation. Tracking the figure of the 'white theory boy' or 'dead white man' across experiential accounts of theory, scholarship on canonicity, and pedagogical strategies, the article demonstrates his enduring authority in theoretical knowledge making and dissemination. Where this article moves somewhere different is its suggestion that a space of sympathy be extended to this hegemonic figure. Though the dominance of the 'white theory boy' undoubtedly perpetuates inequalities throughout social theoretic thought, it is necessary to locate a new method of tackling such ingrained problems. Though extending sympathy to the 'white theory boy' is perhaps initially counter-intuitive, my suggestion is that he does not hold the sort of monolithic power we might first assume. Bringing an intersectional analysis of gender, class, 'race' and ethnicity to bear on this figure, creates a space in which a more critical and fine-grained account of the relationship between power, knowledge, and social status can be uncovered. It is through extending this space of sympathy and mutual cooperation to 'white theory boys' that the practical and conceptual machinations of their power are further revealed. From here a more thorough dismantling of this power becomes possible.

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Knowledge, Pedagogy, Capital, Legitimacy, Inequality, Theory

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16 August 2015Accepted
31 August 2015Published

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Date Deposited:

05 Apr 2017 11:41

Last Modified:

15 Apr 2021 10:04

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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