Teaching Practices and Symbolic Violence: The Case of Racket Sports at School

By Olivier Dieu, Isabelle Joing, Elodie Drumez

Starting from the hypothesis that standard forms of intervention by racket sports teachers involve a degree of symbolic violence insofar as they do not take the in situ mobilization of students into account, two studies were performed: 1) 394 students were asked about what they hoped to experience and what actually occurred in the table tennis classes they had taken, along with their perceived pleasure in this activity; 2) the temporal structure of 1,844 points scored by 40 students, who had been ranked vis-à-vis five levels of intention in badminton were compared. Our results demonstrate that there is a mismatch between teaching practices and activities that provide pleasure to students, with a mean perceived pleasure score for table tennis (3.7) that is significantly lower than that for physical education activities in general (5.3). We also found that, in badminton, the rhythm of play varies significantly among the five registers of intention (p < 0.0001), while standard teaching practices tend to use only one playing time in this sport. In the discussion, teachers are invited to develop new didactic strategies that are more “responsible” than traditional time-based forms of class competition.


  • symbolic violence
  • racket sports
  • perceived pleasure
  • physical activity
  • responsible strategies
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