Diane Reay (2001)

Reay used the concept of ‘cultural capital’ in the more practical setting of primary education.

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  • Created by: Gurjeevan
  • Created on: 19-01-12 16:30

Summary of her Theory

Reay found that “it is mothers who are making cultural capital work for their children”. She found that the amount of cultural capital possessed by middle class mothers meant that their children succeeded more in education that their working class peers. 

Middle class mothers had the knowledge and skills to help their children more effectively with homework and to challenge the school and negotiate with teachers for the benefit of their children

Middle class mothers could afford to have domestic help (giving them more time for their children) and pay for private tutors.

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Diane Reay drew the following main conclusions from studies  in which she and colleagues used a combination of classroom observations and interviews with both pupils and teachers.

Teachers are still prone to label working class pupils negatively such that as one pupil expressed it "Some teachers are a bit snobby and some teachers act as if a child is stupid...like they think you're dumb" while middle class pupils often receive treatment.

Setting processes continue to operate to the disadvantage of working class students.

Diane Reay found that peer pressure among many working class boys irrespective of their ethnicity was a significant factor inhibiting their educational achievement 

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Diane Reay's study suggests that Mike O'Donnell's and Sue Sharpe's study may well have been over-optimistic  It does appear likely that labelling theories do provide part of the explanation for social class, gender and ethnic inequalities of educational achievement.

 Diane Reay found that 'nice girls' was considered a derogatory term indicating, "...an absence of toughness and attitude." 

the girlies were a group of girls who focused their time on flirting with and writing love letters to boys, the tomboys were girls who played sports with the boys



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The Reay study further demonstrates how socialization of girls occurs at the school level by tolerating different behaviors from boys than from girls.

Assertive behavior from girls is often seen as disruptive and may be viewed more negatively by adults. In Reay's study, the fact that the spice girls asserted themselves in ways contrary to traditional femininity caused them to be labeled by teachers as "real *******". (2001) 

This reinforces the notion that "...girls' misbehavior to be looked upon as a character defect, whilst boys' misbehavior is viewed as a desire to assert themselves." (Reay, 2001)

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