This article is based upon a comparative, ethnographic case study of two groups of 10-11-year-old boys – one middle-class, the other working-class – living in Belfast. Drawing upon Bourdieu’s related concepts of symbolic violence and habitus, it shows how locality can help to explain the very different educational and career aspirations found between these two groups of boys. While the local area in which the middle-class boys live had very little significance to them, the working-class boys’ locality played a central role in mediating their experiences and perspectives. The article shows how it tended to represent the parameters of the boys’ world-view and thus to significantly limit their educational and future career aspirations. The article concludes by arguing that there is a need to move beyond simplistic notions of power based upon crude freedom/constraint dualisms and, instead, to explore the complex ways in which broader processes and structures of inequality are experienced and tend to reach into and affect the very psyche of individuals.