Essay will discuss sociology within the confines of education and examine the role educational institutions play in the development of a society. The above illustration will act as a visual stimulus for this purpose, setting a sociological context through which this assignment will be conducted. Theories of habitus, social capital and social reproduction with regard to education will be examined. Central to the theory of social reproduction are a number of key characteristics.
This essay will apply the following: First, current educational systems reinforce inequality; second, schools are built upon models of class values; and finally, the educational system is modelled on the concerns of the dominant ruling classes. The first section of this assignment will establish a theoretical basis for the essay. It will introduce the work of Pierre Bourdieu, identifying him as a key theorist in the field of sociology in education. Relevant areas of Bourdieu’s research will be examined, most notably his theories of capital.
Drawing from ranging academic sources this section will expand upon the topic with a view to apply the theory in the following section. In line with theory outlined in section one, the second section will analyse the formerly introduced visual stimulus. In doing so, the following questions will be answered: Does the image reinforce the theories of Bourdieu? If so, what elements of the image suggest that social inequality is in fact reproduced in educational institutions? Based on this analysis, general conclusions will be drawn leading to the subsequent section; personal reflections of the author.
... stimulate the minds of others. It is precisely through a social studies education that, given engaging instruction, high expectations for all, and ... student, is that certain group work becomes more recreational than educational for students who do not feel challenged or are more ... passive with their learning. In theory I find reflective inquiry to be the form of instruction ...
Section three will incorporate personal reflections. A number of aspects of the earlier outlined theories will be highlighted and compared to the personal experiences of the author. In addition, this section will conclude the assignment with the identification of a number of key ways its completion has informed my understanding of sociology within teaching and learning. Section One Theory Explicated The first section of this paper is concerned with one of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth century, Pierre Bourdieu.
His observations of how the upper classes retain a dominant roll in society and the link between educational institutions and the reproduction of social classes are significant. These perspectives play an important role in his studies and will be discussed here. A focus will be placed on his theories of habitus, social capital and social reproduction. The views of various academic writers will be employed to support or challenge his theories. Bourdieu’s theory of habitus refers to the formation of an individuals ideology or disposition as a result of social environment.
Billig states that, ‘ideology comprises the habits of behaviour and belief which combine to make any social world appear to those who inhabit it, as the natural world’ (Billig 1995, p. 37–38).
Therefore, subconscious behaviour, values and attitudes will pre-exist, independent of the socialisation of the individual taking place in fields such as institutions of education. Moreover, habitus refers to the instinctive actions or predisposed thought processes of an individual in relation to their social class.
Webb (et al.) confirm this theory in Understanding Bourdieu: Habitus is the set of durable dispositions that people carry within them that shapes their attitudes, behaviours and responses to given situations. (2002, p. 114) Further support of this theory is provided by Perez-Felkner in her studies on socialisation of children and adolescents. She states that individuals develop through the process of accommodation to their environmental contexts, specifically concentric rings of influence, from family to neighbourhoods and schools to cultural forces in society.
... economic, social or political spheres; conversely, an individual experiences downward social mobility from an upper class to a lower class because ... and Anti-essentialism in the Critical Race Theory states that every individual has multiple identities, loyalties and allegiances ... to the Differential Racialization perspective of the Critical Race Theory, the dominant group in a society ‘racializes’ ...
Habitus can relate to the amount and type of ‘capital’ an individual may yield. Bourdieu recognised that the concept of capital is not solely linked to the world of economics. He theorised that in sociological terms, capital can take a number of further forms such as symbolic capital, cultural capital and social capital (Webb, 2002).
He hypothesised that the form and amount of capital an individual is subject to can directly influence social position or opportunities for social mobility.
For the purpose of this assignment, a focus will be placed on social capital. Bourdieu states that: social capital is the sum of the resources, actual or virtual, that accrue to an individual or a group by virtue of possessing a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition (Bourdieu et. al. , 1992, p. 119).
In accordance with Bourdieu, it can be derived that social capital is the accumulation of benefits and opportunities obtained through association with a particular social group or class.
For example, a principle of a grammar school giving preferential treatment to a candidate for a teaching position because they have studied at the same redbrick university. Thurpp lends support to this theory in highlighting the perceived benefits of attending a middle class school: These include the social capital of peers, extra material resources, contextual or school mix effects on student achievement, better pathways to elite tertiary institutions, the effects of the `old school tie’ in the labour market and so on. (Thrupp 2010, p. 303) Attending school or university, by its very nature, is conducive to the formation of a social network.
Attending an institution that fosters middle class values will increase exposure to other middle class members of society, therefore the formation of a network of privileged individuals. This process increases social capital and consequently opportunities of success for the dominant members of society. The social structure is perpetuated. Bourdieu identified this process as social reproduction. Social reproduction is the idea that inequality is continually reproduced as a result of education systems. It identifies how social and cultural values are transmitted from one generation to the next within the schooling process.
... to social capital and institutional support within schools and other institutional. The settings were problematic for the working-class ... class minority youth must negotiate. Stanton-Salazar provided the conceptual foundations of a framework built around the concepts of social capital ... article I have chosen to evaluate "A Social Capital Framework for Understanding the Socialization of Racial Minority ...
Webb et al. support this notion in Understanding Bourdieu stating: Education acts to promote social distinction and, as such, operate as an agent of reproduction of the cultural arbitrary. (2002, p. 114) In democratic countries, schooling is considered to be a meritocratic system, providing equal opportunities to all. Nonetheless, Bourdieu’s theory of social reproduction asserts that public education systems work to reinforce class systems already in place. Consequently, the powerful, dominant class retain their position over the subordinate lower classes. Section 2 Theory Applied
These boys are students of Eton College, an elite British boarding school located at Windsor, in the United Kingdom. Founded more than 600 years ago by King Henry VI, an education at this school is far out of reach for the vast majority of British students due to high fees. Past pupils have enjoyed much influence and control over British society. Sometimes referred to as the ‘chief nurse of England’s statesmen’, it has educated countless British political leaders and generations of aristocracy, and is therefore synonymous with the British ruling classes (BBC News, 1998).
As earlier outlined, Bourdieu’s states that habitus is a ‘set of durable dispositions that people carry within them that shapes their attitudes, behaviours and responses to given situations’ (Webb et al. 2002, p. 114).
In order to apply this theory to the image, it is first necessary to make educated assumptions about the background of its subjects. On the basis of the photograph, the evidence suggests that the students pictured are from high income families where much value is placed on education. Logically, it can be assumed that they are of upper-middle class origin.
... students. Right now, many schools in Philadelphia don’t even have enough books for each student. Although the differences in education within the social classes ... students from higher social/ economic classas will go on to higher education;and more students from lower social classes ... on the correlations between social class and education. i attended an elementary school in North Philadelphia ...
In considering what a socially just education system might look like, Reay identifies the perceived ‘intellectual superiority and elitism, of the upper and middle classes’ in Britain. She states that the British class system ‘seeps into the soul creating divisions between people’ (Reay, 2012. p596).
With this in mind, it can be suggested that the relaxed students pictured above are quipped with a deeply ingrained habitus conducive to the ideologies of the school. They are relaxed because they were born and bread for a privileged Etonian world.
According to Bourdieu, a working class student placed into this environment would be disadvantaged; socially ill-equipped to engage with the values of the institution. Looking at the displayed image, it is not difficult to determine that the subjects are members of a group. This can be ascertained from their attire; a school uniform that appears to be worn with pride. There are notable differences between uniforms worn by the majority of contemporary school students and those that attend Eton College: a top hat and tails. This uniform denotes affluence and privilege. It confirms class difference.
Wearing this uniform along with other customs and practices work together to produce and sustain an intangible asset that Bourdieu terms ‘social capital’. Social capital, as earlier outlined is conceived as that which binds groups of people together, providing a sense of belonging. Siisiainen identifies that this form of capital can ‘be utilized in efforts to improve the social position of the actors in a variety of different fields’ (2000, p. 12).
The influence social capital can have on an individual’s journey through the social hierarchy is considerable.
In order to more fully understand the social capital Etonion students harbour, it is necessary to briefly analyse the social context within which the school is found. England is a nation with extreme social inequalities. There are obvious benefits of attending a school like Eton; The best teachers access premium resources to ensure first class provision of education. However, according to Bourdieu’s theory of social capital, there are further reaching benefits. In attending Eton College, a frame of reference is formed that connects with that of the ruling class.
... and that boys are seen to gain social status by not complying with the schools system (Mac and Ghaill, Giddens, 2001, Pg 514 ... of English people.In conclusion this paper has demonstrated how social class, gender and race effects educational achievement more than ones innate ... interest by how often the parents visited the school. If the parents attend the school a lot it showed an interest in education ...
Having educated nineteen British prime-ministers (BBC News, 1998), it is not difficult to hypothesis that there is a link between the value system of the school and those who rule. These boys are bread for power. They are part of a system that is sustained by the reproduction of society. Beordieu theorised that educational institutions act as instruments in the social reproduction of inequality. It is continuously reproduced on the grounds that education systems are saturated with the ideology of the middle class, primarily serving their interests.
For this reason, lower class groups are at a further disadvantage within the education system. Reay lends support to this concept stating ‘private schools have been one of the principal means by which elitism and social divisions are produced and perpetuated in England’ (2012, p591).
This is certainly true in relation to the illustration accompanying this assignment. A group of privileged students wear the uniform of an elite educational establishment. High attendance fees ensure its inaccessibility to the lower class in British society.
These boys attend an exclusive school that perpetuate advantage for the dominant group in society. They receive a superior education, are likely to attend elite universities and as a result, most likely to secure high income employment. For these students, maintaining their superior position requires little effort. They have the benefit of learning middle class values at home. They have access to higher quality instruction. Privilege and wealth for the elite is continued. (Witty, 2001 p. 290) In concluding the analysis of the illustration, this photograph can be said to very much reinforce the sociological theories of Bourdieu.
Visually, judgements of habitus can be drawn form the attire and apparent disposition of the boys. They are at ease in their environment. Contextually, researching past graduates of the school has revealed high levels of social capital; some of the most powerful men in Britain have been educated here. Finally, the reproduction of a social group cannot be denied; this is a facility utilised in the educated of the affluent and elite of British society. The following section of this assignment will draw on these conclusions in an effort to draw on the personal experience of the author as a teaching professional.
... be mandatory in high schools. They provide more focused and togetherness throughout the school day for students. Children often feel less social pressure when everyone ... in the school dresses the same way ...
Personal Reflection Primarily this assignment has been concerned with concepts of sociology within the English education system. Having a number of years experience teaching in British schools, I have observed some of the theories discussed in this assignment. The following paragraphs will briefly delineate some personal observations of the author within the context of habitus. The first year of teaching in the U. K. was spent at a mixed sex, catholic, compressive, secondary school. Here, a high portion of the pupils came from disadvantaged backgrounds.
It was common for pupils to speak of a parent in prison, violence in the home or a disdain for schooling. With high levels of truancy and children in receipt of free school meals (Government policy for disadvantage families),producing classwork was not a priority for many students. The working-class habitus of the cohort was not conducive to the middle-class value system of the school. Here, pupils were expected to perform academically in a way that was not expected or valued in the home. Only a small portion of students had faith in the school system or a desire to attend third level institutions.
The schooling system was failing them. Conversely, the following years employment was passed at a selective grammar school. To attend this institute, students needed to rank highly in an exam. Pupils were often the second or third generation of their family to be grammar school educated. Standards of academic excellence were expected of all pupils from family, staff and the students themselves. At this school, attitudes of the students contrasted strongly with those of the students at the previous school.
Here, at age 11, students would discuss what universities they planned to attend upon graduating from school. Perhaps due to the perceived high standard of educational provision, house prices around the grammar school were far higher than around the comprehensive school. Consequently, living in area was out of reach of working-class families. The cohort of the school was almost exclusively middle class, with few students in receipt of free school meals. The habitus of the pupils attending the institution and the ethos of the school were aligned.
Therefore, according to league tables, the school was one of the most successful schools in the North West of England year on year. A portion of its graduates attending redbrick universities annually; habitus and social reproduction in action. Conclusion The aim of this essay has been to discuss sociology within the confines of education. It has examining the role educational institutions play in the development of society. It has introduced the theories of Pierre Bourdieu and focusing on his theories of habitus, social capital and social reproduction.
A visual stimulus has been analysed, setting a sociological context through which the theories of Bourdieu were be examined. Based on this analysis, general conclusions were drawn leading to a the personal reflections of the author. Having studied the work of Bourdieu, and the analysing the earlier mentioned picture, the following can be stated: Firstly, students entering a field of education do so equipped with a predefined disposition as a result of the varied influences of their home environment. This may yield advantaged or disadvantaged position depending on the social background of the individual.
Secondly, social capital can be obtained in attending institutions considered to be upper-class or exclusive. This can be advantageous in securing social mobility for lower classes or the sustaining of social privilege for the upper-classes. Finally, according to Bourdieu, institutes of education are primarily concerned with the advancement of the dominant class. Consequently, the reproduction of privilege for the advantaged middle class is effortless, while far greater obstacles lie in the path of the working-class.
This paper has concluded with brief documentation of some personal experiences of the author. Reflecting upon the social aspects of teaching and the inequalities that exist within the educational system, it has been determined that the theories discussed are highly influential and therefore relevant for further examination.