Hierarchies and learning in the conservatoire: exploring what students learn through the lens of Bourdieu

Rosie Burt-Perkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article explores the intersection between institutional hierarchies and learning at a UK conservatoire. Conceptualizing learning as a social practice situated in a hierarchical social space, the article draws on the theorization of Bourdieu to understand how students are positioned in the conservatoire field and what this means in terms of their learning. Working within a social constructionist framework, the study adopted qualitative research with two case students, making use of a trilogy of methods: semi-structured interviews, participant self-documentation and participant-verification interviews. Findings reveal that as students participate in the conservatoire field they appear to learn their position in the conservatoire’s hierarchies, and that their position relates to what and how they learn. The conservatoire’s hierarchical organization can thus be considered an important factor in shaping student learning, illuminating the need for further research to explore how learning experiences and opportunities can be maximized for all conservatoire students.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-212
JournalResearch Studies in Music Education
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2013


  • bourdieu
  • conservatoire
  • music education
  • qualitative research
  • hierarchies

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Hierarchies and learning in the conservatoire: exploring what students learn through the lens of Bourdieu'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this