AQA AS Level Sociology- EDUCATION


Functionalist perspective on education

Durkheim: Solidarity and Skills

  • Social Solidarity: education does this by transmitting a shared culture to its students to make them feel a part of one body e.g. teaching history gives kids a shared heritage. also acts as a society in miniature by working alongside those that aren't friends/family and by having a hierarchy which mirrors wider society
  • Specialist Skills: modern industrial economy=complex division of labour (making one product rquires multiple skilled ppl) so education ensures that they teach the specialist skills an individual needs to play their part in the division of labour in society

Parsons: Meritocracy

  • school acts as a bridge between family and wider society (both have a different way of life so transition needs to be smooth). Family: particularistic standards (rules applying to each child) School and wider society: universalistic standards (same pass mark etc)
  • in school and society, it is meritocratic- status is widely achieved (promotions, passing/failing through our own efforts), everyone has the same oppurtunity and we achieve rewards through our own efforts which helps us move on from family to society (by having the same meritocratic principles)
1 of 28

Functionalist perspective on education

Davis and Moore: Role Allocation

  • school allocates pupils into appropriate work roles to ensure that the best suited person works for the key important roles in society. inequality is needed to ensure that everyone fits into their best suited roles (e.g. dangerous roles like a pilot), education sifts and sorts ppl into their roles (through higher qualifications etc)

Evaluation of Functionalist perspective:

  • ample evidence that there isnt equal oppurtunity for everyone, factors like class play a huge part
  • Marxists: education instills the culture of the upper class, not society
  • specialist skills arent taught as adequatelt as Durkheim claims e.g. in 2011, the Wolf review of vocational education found that higher quality apprenticeships are rare and 1/3 of the courses for 16-19 yr olds dont lead to good jobs/higher education
  • New Right- education system fails to prepare us adequately for work 
2 of 28

Neoliberalism/New Right perspective

  • believe that the education system is failing because its funded by the state. It takes a 'one size fits all' approach which imposes uniformity and disregards local needs and don't give local consumers any say (parents,students)
  • SOLUTION: Marketisation of Education- create an education market and treat schools like businesses- encouraging competition between them will lead to greater, diversity, choice, efficiency and raise standards to meet the needs of the consumers

Chubb and Moe- Consumer Choice:

  • USA state run education has failed because: 1. no equal oppurtunity- failed disadvantaged pupils, 2. inneficient- fails to give pupils skills for the economy, 3.private schools=higher quality education as they answer their paying consumers (parents)
  • VOUCHER SYSTEM: each parent recieves a voucher in which they can spend it to buy education from a school of their choice. This acts as marketisation as schools will be forced to answer to their consumers as the vouchers are their main source of income and will compete to 'attract customers'
3 of 28

Neoliberalism/New Right perspective

Two Roles of the State:

The state still performs two key roles:

1. State imposes a framework for schools to compete (e.g OFSTED inspection reports, league tables on exam results) giving parents more information on their choice of school

2. State imposes a national curriculum which transmits a shared national culture socialising pupils into a single heritage

  • NR stress the importance of affirming national identity e.g. by teaching Britain's role in history, reading British literature etc. to integrate pupils into a single set of cultural values

Evaluation of the New Right Perspective:

  • Gerwitz and Ball: competition only benefits middle class who can use their cultural and economic capittal to find the best school for their child
  • real cause of low educational standards is because of social inequality and inadequate funding 
  • Marxists- education only transmits the culture of a dominant minority (ruling class)
4 of 28

Marxist perspective on education

A key component of the state (run by ruling class) is education, which functions to prevent revolution and maintain capitalism.

Althusser- Ideological State Apparatus:

  • The state has two apparatuses (1. Repressive State Apparatus: maintaining bourgeois rule by force/threat of force e.g. the police and courts. 2.Ideological State Apparatus: maintaining rule by controlling beliefs, ideas, values e.g. the media and education)
  • Education is an example of the ISA and performs two functions

1. education REPRODUCES inequality by transmitting it across each successive generation by failing each gen. of wc pupils

2 education LEGITIMISES inequality through ideologies to persuade those that their position is inevitable and that they deserve being subordinate in society, thus preventing a revolution


5 of 28

Marxist perspective on education

Bowles and Gintis- Correspondence Principle, Hidden Curriculum and Myth of Meritocracy:

  • study of 257 NY high school students: schools praised qualities like obedience, submissive (which is what capitalism wants their workers to be like) thus showing how school helps produce workers like this
  • close parallels b/w school and work (hierarchies etc) referring to the correspondence principle. this operates through the hidden curriculum (lessons in school that aren't directly taught) e.g. through everyday workings of school they become accustomed to hierarchy which prepares wc pupils for exploitation at the workplace
  • Myth of meritocracy: the idea that oppurtunity is equal for all legitimises inequality. however, meritocracy doesnt exist, it is there to justify the priviledges of the m class whilst persuading the w class that their inequality is inevitable. Poor are dumb theory: blaming poverty on the individual rather than capitalism= no revolution 

Willis- Learning to Labour:

  • e.g. of students fighting against indoctrination. Willis' study of 12 WC boys transitioning from school to work. they formed a counter culture opposed to the school and responded to the boredom in school by flouting the rules, making fun of girls etc. this mirrored shop floor jobs and the boys themselves aspired for manual jobs. this made them fit into the slot of the very jobs as they were accustomed to boredom and knew how to exercise it so can cope with the tedium of unskilled labour along with their acts of rebellio, ensuring that they would end up in unskilled jobs 
6 of 28

Marxist perspective on education

Evaluation of Marxist approaches:

  • Willis' study of the Lads romanticises them as working class heroes despite their rebellion and sexist attitudes
  • contradiction between Bowles and Gintis' deterministic view and Willis' study of how they fighted against indoctrination
  • Morrow and Torres (modernists) criticise Marxism's class first approach by ignoring many other reasons for inequality and instead see society as more diverse and see the inequalities faced by class, gender and ethnicity as equally important and are inter-related 
  • Postmodernists: todays post fordist economy requires a very different labour force described by what Marxist's claim education produces
7 of 28

Gender differences in education: EXTERNAL FACTORS

  • The impact of feminism: since 1960's, it has challenged typical stereotypes of women as mothers/housewives and has in turn affected womens' expectations of educational success. not full equality, but considerable success through raising expectations and self esteem. McRobbie's study of girls' magazines: 1970's- emphasised importance of marriage and not being 'left on the shelf' Now: pictures of assertive, independent women. this explains considerable imporvement in girls' ed achievement
  • Changes in the family: major chamges (like increase in divorce rate/cohabitation/lone parent families and decrease in number of first marriages) affected girls' attitudes. e.g. increase in matrifocal lone parent families has encouraged girls' to aspire for the breadwinner role which needs ood qualifications, increase in divorce shows how it is unwise to rely on the man as the provider all contributing to raise educational achievement for girls'
  • Changes in women's employment: (e.g. 1970 Equal Pay Act has decreased pay gap from 30% to 15% since 1975, women's employment has risen from 53% in 1971 to 67% in 2013, women breaking through glass ceiling) has encouraged girls' to see a future in paid work along w/ role models of successful career women 
  • Girls' changing ambitions: changes in family and employment changed ambition. (e.g. Sue Sharpe's interviews w/ girls. 1970's: low aspirations, educational success was unattractive, priorities being love, marriage, husbands, children, jobs. 1990's: prioritised careers first along with self support.) however, there are class differences in ambition, some working class girls still have stereotypical aspirations for marriage and children and traditional low paid women's employment 
8 of 28

Gender differences in education: INTERNAL FACTORS

  • Equal oppurtunities policies: policies like GIST and WISE allows girls to achieve for non tradtional futures, the National Curriculum makes girls and boys study mostly the same subjects. Boaler: positive effect on acheievement by removing barriers, meritocratic system also plays a part
  • Positive role models in schools: increase in women as teachers/heads has showed the importance in how women can achieve senior roles, thus influencing aspirations by giving them non tradtional goals to achieve
  • GCSE and coursework: intro of GCSE and coursework has improved girls achievement. Mitsos and Browne: girls are better at coursework as they are more organised, work for longer, better with deadlines, take care of presentation etc (all of these traits are a result of early gender role socialisation). greater use of oral exams has also benefitted them as they have better language skills. (However, Elwood mentions how coursework has less of an impact on final grades compared to exams)
  • Teacher attention: differs across genders. Francis: boys got more attention from teachers but felt picked on because they had harsher discipline as teachers had lower expectations. Swann: boys dominated class discussion whereas girls were more cooperative and enjoyed group work, thus explaining why they had a better reaction from teachers- favoured cooperativeness which may lead to a self fulfilling prophecy and raise their achievement
  • Challenging stereotypes in the curriculum: removal of stereotypes from textbooks, reading schemes etc has removed barriers and increased self confidence. Reading schemes in the 70's and 80's portrayed girls as housewives and afraid of science, the removal of these has positively impacted their achievement
9 of 28

Gender differences in education: INTERNAL FACTORS

  • Selextion and league tables: marketisation has increased competitiveness and has made girls more desireable recruits after gaining better exam results. Jackson: intro of league tables has imporved oppurtunities for girls as they are high achievening and more attractive to schools unlike boys (can lead to SFP) so are more likely to be chosen by good schools. Slee: boys are unattractive as they most likely have behavioural difficulties and may be seen as 'liability students' giving the shcool a rough, tough image, preventing girls from applying


Liberal Feminists: progress has been made, better progress with further introduction of equal oppurtunities policies, encouraging role models and removing stereotypes

Radical Feminists:  more critical view. the system still remains patriarchal by conveying how it is still a mans world. there is still: sexual harrassment of girls in school, limited subject choices and career options, male teachers are most likely to become heads in school, women are underepresented in curriculum e.g. history- Weiner: history is a 'woman-free zone'

10 of 28

Identity, class and girls' achievement

Still class differences amongst achievement (e.g. in 2013, only 40.6% of girls on FSM achieved 5 A*-C grades, compared to 67.5% non-FSM girls) 

Symbolic Capital: Archer argues that there is a conflict b/w wc feminine identities and the school ethos. She uses symbolic capital (status, recognition and sense of worth we obtain from others) to explain how through performing their wc feminine identities, they gained SC from peers. this conflicted with the school ethos preventing them from getting educational capital (qualifications) and economic capital (mc careers). Archer identified three ways in which girls developed these identities:

  • Hyper hetero-sexual identities: many of the girls invested considerable time and money in creating a glamarous appearance (black urban american style conbined with unisex sportswear, **** clothing and makeup) which gave them status from peers and prevented them from being called a tramp. however, this conflicted with the schools ethos (seen as distracting to their work) and ended up 'othering' the girls making them seem like 'not one of us' (Bourdieu: symbolic violence- rejection of someones SC) and the ideal pupil, according to Archer, was a desexualised mc pupil=exclusion
  • Boyfriends:  boyfriends brought symbolic capital but was in the way of school work and lowered aspirations e.g. interest in university, studying science (masculine) etcand aspired to settle down and have kids and work in wc feminine jobs like childcare. one girl dropped out after getting pregnant 
  • Being 'loud':  some girls had 'loud' feminine identities leading them to be outspoken, independant and assertive e.g. questioning teacher's authority, which conflicted with the ideal pupil stereotype and brought conflit with teachers who saw them as aggressive not assertive 
11 of 28

Boys and achievement

Boys and literacy: less time to be read to by parents, partly because its mainly mothers that do the reading so seen as feminine. their leisure pursuits are football etc so don't develop language skills affecting their performance

Globalisation and decline of traditional men's jobs: significant decline in industrial work bc of globalisation making manufacturing work move to developing countrils like China for cheap labour. Mitsos and Browne: led to 'crisis of masculinity' as they believe they have little prospect for a job thus undermining their motivation and achievement. However, these jobs didnt need many qualifications so hasn't really had an impact

Feminisation of education: Sewell: schools don't nurture masculine traits like competitiveness but do for female traits e.g. coursework  which is a major cause for differences in achievement and should be replaced with final exams, claiming that 'we have thrown boys out of the bathwater.'

Shortage of primary school teachers: lack of role model at home and school. only 14% are male pt in 2007, 42% boys said presence of a male teacher made them work harder, many say its bc females cant control boy's behaviour so men can discipline them into concentrating. Are more male teachers really needed? Francis says that majority of 7-8's said gender didnt matter. Read  criticised the idea that only men can discipline boys and discovered two discources teachers adopted when disciplining kids; a disciplinarian discourse making the discipline more explicit (masculine) and a liberal discourse which is more implcit, the student is spoken to like an adult and expects them to be kind, sensible and respectful (feminine). she found that most teachers adopted the disciplinarian discourse showing that education hasnt been feminised because most favoured a more masculine approach also showing that females were just as likely as males to use that discourse. 

12 of 28

Boys and achievement

Laddish subcultures: has contributed to underachievement. Francis: boys are more concerned about being labelled compared to girls as it threatens their masculinity more, laddish culture is more widespread as girls are moving onto masculine careers so have to construct themselves as non feminine. Epstein found that wc boys are most likely to be labelled as sissies and swots. this is because masculinity in wc is associated with manual work so the opposite is met with disapproval so they tend to reject schoolwork in fear. The moral panic about boys: critics of feminism claim that girls now have it all and are taking mens jobs and boys have now become the new disadvantaged which has led to a moral panic about failing boys as claimed by Ringrose: discovered that the moral panic reflects a fear in underachieving boys forming the future threatning underclass leading to a shift in educational policy to raise achievements. this has led to two problems; narrowing policy to failing boys disregards ethnic and other problems, narrowing policy to achievement gaps ignores sexual harrasment, bullying, identity issues of girls etc

Gender, class and ethnicity: wrong to claim boys as a lost cause, achievement of both has been raised as boys have achieved more than they did in the past. McVeigh: the class gap is three times wider than the gender gap in GCSE. girls and boys of the same class achieve similar results. pupils of the same gender but different social class achieve different results e.g. girls from higher classes are 44 points ahead. gender influence on achievement differs across ethnicity and class e.g. fuller discovered that balck girls are successful in school bc they describe femininity in achievement and independence, whereas black boys define masculinity as the opposite to education as discovered by Sewell. Therefore we must explore the struggles across gender, class and ethnicity to really undertsnad achievement .

13 of 28

Gender and subject choice

  • gender role socialisation: process of learning the expected behaviour of the genders in society, taught at an early age- they dress/act/play differently. schools play an important part as well. Byrne: teachers encourge boys to be tough and not be weak like sissies, girls are taught to be quiet, tidy, clean. Murphy and Eldwood: difference in reading has affected subject choice, boys read hobby books (leads to science) girls read books about people (leads to english). gender domains: (activites and tasks seen as male and female territory) Browne and Ross: beliefs on gender domains based from early experiences and expectations of adults so are more confident in partaking in subjects in their domain
  • gendered subject images: Kelly: science is seen as a male subject bc; most teachers are men, used in textbooks attract boys more. boys monopolise the apparatus in lessons. Colley: ICT is seen as masculine because it involves working with machines and the abstract teaching style format and few groupwork is unnappealing to girls . single-sex schools: pupils have less stereotyped images and make less traditional subject choices. leonard: girls are more likely to choose science and maths a level and boys english and languages, girls more likely to study male dom. studies in uni.
  • gender identity and peer pressure: boys dont choose music and dance as it might bring on criticism. paechter: girls who are sporty have to deal with a contradictory female identity so opt out. absense of peer pressure in single sex schools is an explanation as to why there are less traditional subject choices
  • gendered career oppurtunities: employment is highly gendered, womens jobs similar to housewives e.g. childcare and have narrow occupatios affecting their ideas on what jobs are possible/acceptable and explains why vocational education is more gender specific and are closely linked to career plans- wc pupils take on more traditional courses (childcare reflected working class habitus (fuller)) 
14 of 28

Pupils' sexual and gender identities

pupils' experiences in school construct and reinforce gender and sexual identities 

  • double standards: (applying one set of moral standards to one group but a different set to another group) Lees: double standard of sexual morality, boys boast abt their sexual exploits but girls are seen as slags in doing the same thing, promiscuity amongst girls is negative but not for boys - feminists recognise the patriarchal ideology in this and keeps women subordinate to men 
  • verbal abuse: Connell: boys use name calling to put girls down if they behave/dress in a certain way (slags/drags). Paechter: name calling maintains male power through labels like gay or ****** to police each others secual identities
  • male gaze:  Mac an Ghaill: male gaze is a surveillance method through dominant heterosxual masculinity which is reinforced and devalues femininity. boys prove their masculinity to their friends and is combined with telling and retelling stories of sexual conquests to prevent from being labelled as gay
  • male peer groups: use verbal abuse to reinforce masculinity, boys in subc accuse boys achieveing as gay as found by epstein and willis
  • female peer groups, policing identity: ringrose: studied 13-14 yr old wc pupils in wales, found that being popular was crucial to them and found tension between an idealised female identity (showing loyalty to peer group, being non competitive, getting along with everybody) or a sexualised identity (competing for boys in dating culture) so have to balance it to prevent **** shaming or frigid shaming. a boffin identity helps those who want to be successful by conforming to school rules regardless of being called a boffin (mc boffins call wc girls chavs) 
  • teachers and discipline: Haywood and Mac an Ghaill disciplined boys ino not behaving like girls when they had low marks in tests and blamed girls for attracting verbal abuse from boys 
15 of 28

Ethnic differences in achievement: EXTERNAL FACTOR

  • cultural deprivation: many minorit children lack intellectual and linguistic skills  e.g. low incom black children lack intellectual stimulation and lingusistic skills making them unequipped for school as they lack problem solving skills. Bereitter and Engel mann: low income black american families speak disjointed, ungrammatical etc which is unequipped for success. those who speak a different lang. at home also at disadvantage (not much of a problem; Gilborn and Mriza-indian kids do well regardless of this).  Lack of appropriate attitudes and values  is another cause for failure amongst black children- not socialised into the competitive, sacrificial mainstream culture which gives long term rewards, black children are socialised into a fatalistic 'live for today' culture instead. Family structure and parental support is also a factor; failure in socialising black children. Moynihan; majority matrifocal lone parent- struggle in the absense of a breadwinner while boys suffer in the absence of a male role model - a cyle in which inadequate kids fail and become inadequate parents themselves. Similar approach by New Right Murray. Pryce: asians are more resistant to racism and have more self worht, explaining differences in achievement. (Sewell: not the absense of a role model, but the absense of being taught tough love or fartherly nuruturing so black bboys struggle emotionally which makes them turn to gangs which offer this, also argues that asian families have a high work ethic (Indian and Chinese)) Alos failue amongst white working class kids who lack parental support and face a lot more discipline from their teachers due toe xpected behaviour (Lupton). CRITICISMS: Driver: Black families produce strong independent women/ Lawrence criticises Pryce and claims that black pupils ubnderachieve due to racism. Keddie- victim blaming approach as theyre culturally different not deprived and claim that schools are ethnocentric and achievement will be tackled with the intro of a multicultural anti racist education system 
16 of 28

Ethnic differences in achievement: EXTERNAL FACTOR

  • Material deprivation and class: Palmer 2012- almost half of ethnic minorities are in low income houses, they're twice as likely to be unemployed than whites, three times more likely to be homeless etc. More likely to be in shift work and Bangladeshi/Pakistani women are more likely in low paid homework.  Many live in economically depressed areas, cultural factors like Purdah in muslim women prevent them from leaving the house, asylum seekers cant work, more likely to face racism in the labour and housing market. 45% Bangladeshi pupils are FSM eligible in 2011. Indian pupils come from a better off bg and are more likely to attend private school. (we need to take class into account also otherwise we may over-estimate the amt of cultural dep and underestimate impact of material dep and poverty. However, indian and chinese do betetr than the most despite being materially deprived e.g. 86% of FSM chinese girls achieved 5+ GCSE's so shows that material dep and social class doesnt completely override influence of ethnicity)
  • Racism in wider society: Rex: racism leads to social exclusion which worsens their poverty as in housing they are more likely to be forced into substandard accomodation tha white ppl of the same class, Wood et al: sent 3 closely matched applications to 1000 job vacancies, two were ethnic minority, one was white, one in 16 ethnic minorities were accepted compared to one in 9 white ppl. shows that unemployment and housing can affect the child. 
17 of 28

Ethnic differences in achievement: INTERNAL FACTOR

Gilborn and Mirza: black pupils were the highest achievers in primary school but this changed in secondary school thus suggesting that there are internal factors stunting educational achievement

  • labelling and teacher racism: interactionists- black (disruptive) and asians (passive) are seen as far from the ideal pupil, leading to negative labels setting them to fail. Gillborn and Youdell: teachers racialised expectations of black pupils made them quick to discipline as they expected more problems from them. this made black pupils feel underestimated by teachers and felt picked on, leading to negative response from the student - concluded that much of the conflict between white teachers and black pupils stemmed from racism.  Osler; black pupils are more likely to suffer from internal exclusion and being sent out which stubntus achievement, they are placed in pupil referral units whcih exludes them from access of curriculum. Gilborn and Youdel discovered that black opupils are more likely to be in lower streams as teachers focus more on students that they think will get higher grades. supported by Foster who also discovered that its because teachers have expectations of black pupils as badly behaved. Asian pupils felt isolated when their names were mispronounced and were seen as a problem that they can forget which also affected success.
  • pupil identities: Archer: teachers define minorities' identities as lacking the qualities of the ideal pupil: they formed three types of identities; the ideal pupil identity (white, middle class masculine identity with a normal sexuality, they are seen to achieve in the right way) pathologised pupil identity (adian deserving poor feminised identity with an asexual or oppressed sexuality who is a slogger succeeding through hard work not natural ability) and demonised pupil identity (black/white wc hypersexualised unintelligent culturally deprived underachiever.) 
18 of 28

Ethnic differences in achievement: INTERNAL FACTOR

Archer: teachers stereotyped asian girls as passive and quiet. even chinese pupils ae pathologised despite being high achievers and were negatively viewed by their teachers as they didnt achieve naturally so cant ever be an ideal pupil

  • pupil responses and subcultures: some may respond to labels negatively, others positively; e.g. Fuller's study of rejecting labels- studied a group og black yr 11 girls in a comprehensive school on Lodnon -they were the highest achievers compared to most black girls being in low streams. they appeared as if they didnt work hard and didnt seek approval from teachers rather they focused on their own efforts- they dealt with success while being friends with girls in lower streams and ignoring comments from boys so succeeded by ignoring a negative stereotype from their teachers shwoing that negative labels doesn't always lead to failure. Sewll focused on the racist stereotypes of teachers to explain the underachievement of black boys and identified 4 responses; the rebels (small minority, most visible, rejected both rules and goals of school and conformed to black macho lad appearance which included sexual experience and virility) the conformists (the largest group, keen to succeed, not a part of a subc and anxious to avoid stereotype from peers or teachers) the retreatists (tin minority, both isolated from schools values and rebel culture, hated by rebels) the innovators (second largest group, pro education but anti school, didnt seek approval from teachers and were accepted by rebels and isolated from conformists. Sewell argued that teachers saw all black boys as macho which contributed to underachievement. CRITICISMS OF LABELLING AND PUPIL RESPONSES: danger of seeing just the teachers as racist and not the system as a whole, also a danger in assuming that self fulfilling prophecys always occur
19 of 28

Ethnic differences in achievement: INTERNAL FACTOR

  • institutional racism: critica; race theory- racism is ingrained into the system not just the individual; Roithmayr- institutional racism is a locked in inequality , inequality becomes self perpetuating and feeds on itself. Gilborn adopted this approach and saw ethnic inequality as so deeply rooted and so large making it inevitable in education. it is institutionally racist in marketisation and segregation; gilborn says that marketisation gives schools more scope to select pupils allowing negative stereotypes to play a part and discovered that minority pupils fail to get into better secondary schools while primary schools screen out pupils with language difficulties. the curriculum is also ethnocentric; it only reflects the values of the majority ethnicity which contributes to negative stereotypes e.g. history ignores the history of black and asian pupils as argued by Ball. Coard argues that the historical view of black being inferior and civilised by the whites lowers their self esteem. however, this ignores the high success rates of other minorities like Indians and Asians, Assessment also plays a part as gilborn claims it is rigged to validate the superiority of the dominant culture e.g. in primary schools they used to use base line assessments that had written exams but it changed to FSP which was based off of teachers judgement, showing that black pupils underachieved compared to white pupils overnight. There are limited access to oppurtunities for ethnic minorities; e.g. G&T; whites are twice as likely to be selected as gnt compared to black pupils (Gilborn). G&T was heavily dependant on what teachers said about pupils which works against balck pupils and teachers made false assumptions about the nature of pupils ability or potential as they saw potential as a fixed quality that can be measured to place them into the right stream etc and used old fashioned IQ tests, but to Gillborn potential cant be measured- a test can only tell you what the pupil can do now, not what they can do in the future
20 of 28

Ethnic differences in achievement: INTERNAL FACTOR

CRITICISMS OF GILLBORN: mainly focuses on the underachievement of black pupils and the overachievement of indian and chinese pupils. Gilborn argues that internal educational factors contributes to underachievement, while Sewell argues that its the absense of a nurturing father, anti school attitudes and the peer group. how can there be insititutional racism towards Indian and Chinese high achievers? Gillborn responds by claiming that the image of them is an ideology to disguise how they still suffer from racism like Chinese pupils and is used to justify the failure of black pupils and makes the system appear meritocratic and fair as they achieved from their own achievements. Evans talks about how we musn't isolate ethnicity from class and gender as they are interlinked and differ e.g. differences between black boys and black girls, white boys and black boys, white working class pupils and white middle class pupils etc. 

21 of 28

Class differences in achievement: EXTERNAL FACTORS

  • Cultural Deprivation: centre for longitudinal studies: from age of 3 those from disadvantages are one yesr behind privilleged kids, gap widens with age. many wc families fail to socialise children adequately making them culturally deprived- lack cultural equipment needed to succeed. Language: the way parents communicate with kids affect their cognitive development- Bereiter and Engelmann: deficient language in wc homes (gestures, single words, disjointed phrases) which makes the kids grow up incapable of abstract thinking, describing etc. Bernstein: speech codes- restricted code (wc) and elaborated code (mc, used in school, textbooks, tests etc making mc children more equipped, feel more at home etc), bernstein recognises how school fails to teach students elaborated code. Parents' education: douglas: wc parents place less value on education, little visits, discussion with teachers motivation etc leading to failure. Feinstein: mc parents parenting style emphasises consistent discipline and high expectations copared to wc who have 'do as you're told' approach which stunts independence. mc parents are more aware on assissting childs progress e.g. reading to child, nursery rhymes and also have a better income to promode educational success (Bernstein and Young; more likely to buy educational toys, books to help child). Working class subculture: lack of wc parental interest mirrors their subculture which Sugarman discovers has values such as; fatalism (belief in fate, cant change your status) collectivism (being in a group rather than succeeding as an individual) immediate gratification (seeking pleasure now rather than making sacrifices for the future) and present time orientation (seeing present more important than future)- wc parents have these values as they have less secure jobs and have few promotion oppurtunities, which they pass onto their children. 
22 of 28

Class differences in education: EXTERNAL FACTORS

compensatory education schemes like Operation Head Start in US, a multi billion dollar scheme for pre schools in disadvantaged areas in 1960s to enrich disadvantaged kids and instill motivation. in Britain there are schemes like Sure Start, Education Action Zones etc

CRITICISMS OF CULTURAL DEPRIVATION: Keddie- its a myth, it is a victim blaming explanation and points out that kids are culturally different not culturally deprived and fail in an ethnocentric education system dominated by mc values. Troyna and Williams: its not the child's lang thats the problem, its teachers attitudes towards it, they have a speech hierarchy and label mc speech as the highest. Blackstone and Mortimore: parents attend less parents evenings because they work longer hours not bc of lack of interest so its hard to keep in touch with their child's progress

  • Material Deprivation: poverty is closely linked to underachievement (truants and excluded students are more likely from a deprived bg, nearly 90% of failing schools are in deprived areas etc), theres a link bw class and poverty due to; housing: poor housing affects achievement directly and indirectly e.g. overcrowding can make studying hard, for young kids lack of space for safe play etc can stunt development and indirect effects like increased risk of accidnets, illness from damp and cold etc. diet and health: Howard: kids from poor housing have lower vitamins, energy levels which leads to weaker immune systems=more illnesses=more absenses. Wilkinson: lower social classes have higher levels of anxiety and conduct disorders which affects education. Blanden and Machin: children from low income families have more temper and fighting problems which disrupts their schooling
23 of 28

Class differences in achievement: EXTERNAL FACTORS

financial support and the costs of education: children have to miss out on material for education. Tanner et al: costs of books, uniform, calculators, are a burden for poor families so they deal with hand me doens and cheaper equipment leading to stigma and isolation . Smith and noble said that poevrty is a barrier to learning through inability to afford private schools and tuition. Fear of debt: from unis due to cost of textbooks entry fees etc preventing wc from going uni. callender and Jackson: wc students were more debt averse and wanted to avoid uni bc of debt. increase of tuition fees to £9k in 2012 saw a 12% fall in applicants compared to the previous year accord. to UCAS. wc class students are also less likely to gain financial support from their family. Reay: wc students were more likely to apply to a uni close to jome so they could save on travel costs and work part time for support. drop out rates are also higher in unis that have majority disadvantaged students

  • cultural capital: Bourdieu: alongside economic capital, there is also educational capital (qualifications) and cultural capital (knowledge, attitudes, values, laguage, tastes, abilities). these are all acquired by mc placing their kids at an advantage- they can aquire the ability to grasp analyse and express abstract ideas and have more of an interest in skl. these values were praised and rewarded with qualifications whereac wc finds that their culture is described as inferior by schools. mc can convert their cultural capital into educational capital by gaining qualifications, while mc can use their economic capital to send children to private schools and extra tuition. Sullivan tested his ideas by questioning 465 pupils in 4 schools and asked them abt their leisure activities like TV and if they visited museums etc and their knowledge of cultural figures. those who read complex fiction and watched documentaries had more cultural knowledge and were most likely to be successful in GCSE. however, although they were mainly mc, it only was a small factor for the gap in achievement, despite having similar capital, mc still did better showing that greater resources/aspirations was more imp. 
24 of 28

Class differences in achievement: INTERNAL FACTORS

  • Labelling: Becker- teachers labelled pupils according to how close they were to the 'ideal pupil', the closest were mc and wc were not (badly behaved). labelling in secondary schools:  Dunn and Gazely- schools reproduce wc underachievement through the labels they give- teachers normalised wc underachievement and thought they couldn't do anything about it while they tried to tackle mc underachievement, they saw wc parents as uninterested in the childs educ and mc as supportive leading to differences in how teachers dealt with underachievement. labelling in primary schools: Rist found that teachers placed students based on their home bg and appearance, the neat 'tigers' were at the front recieving the most encouragement while the 'cardinals' and 'clowns' were placed at the back and had lower level books etc. 
  • Self fulfilling prophecy: interactionists discover how labels can lead to an sfp in which the student acts upon the label. Rosenthal and Jacobson: told a cali primary school that they had a special test designed for those who would 'spurt' ahead when in reality it was a standard IQ test but the teachers believed it. the researchers tested all pupils and randomly identified 20% as spurters, after a year 47% of the spurters made progress- this was because the teachers believed that they would spurt ahead and through the encouragement they recieved it actd as an sfp even though they were selected at random, suggesting that teachers saw pupils in a certain way
25 of 28

Class differences in achievement: INTERNAL FACTORS

  • Streaming: (seperating children into different ability groups) Becker-teachers dont see wc as ideal pupils so are mainly placed in lower streams, it is high for them to move up to a higher stream because theyre locked into a low expectation from the teacher which creates a sfp and underachieve, streaming and sfp positively impacts mc on the other hand. Gilborn and Youdell: teachers see wc pupils as unable and are placed in lower streams and lower tier exams which prevents them from getting good grades and widens the gap. this is linked to publishing league tab;es, publishing them creates an 'A-C economy" where schools focus time, effort and resources on pupils they see as having potential to get 5 A-C's to boost the league table position. Educational triage- pupils are sorted into 1.those who can pass anyways and are left alone, 2.those with potential-get a lot of help, 3.those who are hopeless. those in the 3rd set are most likely to face an sfp. league tables create an educational triage which becomes the basis of streaming. Gilborn and Youdell expand on interactionists and apply their explanations to marketisation 
26 of 28

Class differences in achievement: INTERNAL FACTORS

  • pupil subcultures: (group of pupils who share similar values and behaviour patterns) they are a response to labelling and streaming. pro schl subc: pupils in high streams, committed to values of school, gain status through academic success . anti schl subc: low streams, suffer low self esteem, schl has undermined their self worth which pushes them for alternative ways of gaining status by truanting, being rude to teachers, not doing hw etc. however, joining an anti schl subc adds to the sfp of educational failure. Ball researched in a comprehensive school which abolished streaming- there was less influence from anti schl subc and polarising into subcultures was removed. but teachers still labelled mc students as more able which explains why they got better exam results (sfp) showing that sfp's can still continue without streaming
  • there are other responses than streaming as woods discovered; ingartiation (teachers pet), ritualism (going through the motions, staying out of trouble), retreatism (daydreaming, mucking abt), rebellion (rejecting schools values) (Furlong; pupils may move from one response to another)
  • CRITICISMS OF LABELLING THEORY: too deterministic; not all pupils are submissive and just accept their labels, many studies of pupils going against teachers' expectations . marxists criticise it for ignoring wider structures in society that reproduce inequality like capitalism and how labels stem from the fact that teachers work in a system that reproduces class divisions
27 of 28

Pupils' class identities and the school

archer et al: focuses on interaction between wc pupils identities and how it produces underachievement. Bourdieus habitus (taken for granted ways of thinking and acting that is shared by a social class) schools value middle class habitus and devalues wc habitus (similar to cultural capital).

Symbolic capital and symbolic violence: schools have a middle class habitus placing wc pupils at disadvantage as their habitus is devalied and their tastes (e.g. clothing, appearance) are seen as tasteless and worthless- this symbolic violence keeps wc students in their place and reproduces the class structure and there is a clash bw wc habitus and the schools mc habitus. e.g. Archer found that wc pupils felt that they had to change themselves and become more presentable to be successful- so success was brought by a process of losing yourself and felt unable to access posh mc spaces like uni and careers.

Nike identities: symbolic violence led to them creating other ways for self worth, status and value and constructed meaningless class identites by investing in heavy brands and styles like nike- this was a way of them being me without being inauthentic. this was policed by peer groups and added pressure to conform to it in order to gain symbolic capital from peers. however, this conflicted with schools dress code and teachers saw it as bad taste or threatning and tasteless by the mc. Archer: the school stigmatised their identities and it was a struggle for recognition for the wc in order to gain symbolic capital and self worth. it was also a way for wc pupils to reject higher education which was unrealistic (for richer, cleverer people, would not fit in) and undesireable (didnt suit their habitus e.g. student loans wouldnt allow them to keep up w/ nike identites) so archer said wc pupils would either choose self exclusion or self elimination from education

28 of 28


No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

See all Sociology resources »See all Education resources »