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The Effect Of Social Class On Educational Attainment

1668 words - 7 pages

The Effect of Social Class on Educational Attainment


My intentions in this project are to demonstrate research into the
relationship between class and educational attainment. I will include
previous studies by well-known sociologists and the outcomes of their
research, as well as creating my own research methods. My research
methods will include how I intend to gather information on my study of
social class. The Aim of the project is to find relationships between
social class and educational attainment and explain the out come,
previous studies indicate that working class pupils do less well
academically and my project explains the reasons why, and how one
might go about gathering useful information about it


It is believed that difference in class culture can contribute to
educational success or failure. Douglas believed parental interest was
the most important factor in educational success, his research
suggested middle class parents showed more interest than working class
parents. However, his research has been criticised, as he measured
parental interest by attendance at open days, and job difference
between middle class and working class parents may account for this.
These and other findings came to be known as cultural deprivation,
believing that those at the bottom of the class structure are deprived
of certain values and skills that are vital for educational success.
Computers, printers and new technologies are often not available to
working class children and because of this they suffer from a lack of
opportunity, ambition, and fatalism. This theory has come under great
criticism though, from those who believe that differences between
class cultures are insignificant.

Rather than looking at factors within the family, there are those who
believe that it is the class structure that creates this educational
inequality, and that equality is impossible in a class-based society.
Bourdieu, a Marxist, argues that the role of the education system is
to reinforce class differences. This is achieved by promoting the
'dominant culture´ of the ruling classes in the classroom through use
of language, ensuring that working class students will be less likely
to understand and be understood. This disadvantages working class
students, and by creating educational success and failure, this means
that the position of both those at the bottom and top doesn't change.
Basil Bernstein pointed the different speech codes used by the middle
and working classes, the 'restricted code', which is context bound and
requires previous common knowledge between users, and the 'elaborated
code´ which is not context-bound, and does not require previous common
knowledge. He believed that middle class children are fluent in both
codes, but that working class children are...

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