It's a Shit Show, and It's Fine

Symbolic Nonviolence Practices in Higher Education in 2020


  • Aubree Evans University of North Texas



COVID, College teaching, symbolic violence, symbolic nonviolence, thinking with theory, post-qualitative, Bourdieu, Kingian nonviolence


Through in-depth interviews with 22 faculty who taught during COVID in 2020, this study examines symbolic violence and symbolic nonviolence in higher education. The post-qualitative method, thinking with theory, revealed inequities exposed by the pandemic which caused low grades, plagiarism, or disappearing from class. The concept, symbolic nonviolence, was created, which is the intentional and systemic practice of recognizing and absorbing symbolic violence to transform the habitus. Faculty practiced three types of symbolic nonviolence: non-academic support, academic adjustment, and disciplinary superpowers, which increased communication and social support for students, provided services that institutions were unable to provide, remediated students academically, adjusted academic expectations to be more suitable to pandemic learning, and taught students how to transform the world using tools unique to their disciplines. Symbolic nonviolence practices have the potential to transform the reproduction of oppression in the institution of higher education, improving academic success and social mobility.

Author Biography

Aubree Evans, University of North Texas

Aubree Michele Evans, Ph.D. is an applied sociologist and Senior Faculty Development Specialist in the Division of Digital Strategy & Innovation at the University of North Texas. Her research focuses on power dynamics and inclusive teaching practices in higher education. Her work has been published in the Journal of Transformative Learning and Inside Higher Education.