- Studied the role of language in schools. Found two main forms of language use: restricted language code and elaborated language code.
- Working class pupils are more likely to have a ‘restricted language code’ (e.g limited vocabulary and shorter sentences). Middle class pupils are more likely to use an ‘elaborated language code’ ‘(e.g speak more using more sophisticated language and understand complex language)
- Schools and teachers use an ‘elaborated language code’ placing middle class students in an advantageous position over working class students who do not possess an ‘elaborated language code’. Therefore, middle class students are more likely to success not because of greater intelligence, but because they use the preferred ways of communicating in school.
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Criticism of Bernstein
- Very simplistic idea of one form of speech for each social class
- Are there really only two speech codes?
- Very deterministic- the idea that working class children underachieve because of their language use; surely they can learn the ‘elaborate language code’ of the middle class?
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