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Evaluate sociological explanations for underachievement of the working class.

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Vicki Scarisbrick Evaluate sociological explanations for underachievement of the working class. Working class underachievement has been studied for decades in terms of social class. During the 1960's a popular view was that the working class were deficient and caused under achievement - this lead to the theory of CULTURAL DEPRIVATION. One of the aspects of cultural deprivation, according to BASIL BERNSTIEN, was linguistic deprivation. He claimed that the middle class used the elaborate code. This type of code makes use of a large vocabulary, provides the details, the reasons and the explainations that are often left out by the restricted code. It also spells out many of the meanings taken for granted and left unspoken by the restricted code. Restricted code, or working class speech, is a kind of short hand speech. It uses a smaller vocabulary than elaborate code, and uses less adverbs and adjectives. As a result it is not as well suited for spelling out less obvious, more subtle meanings and developing ideas. Due to the use of these two different codes, Bernstein believed that the class differences in speech patterns proberbly partly explain the differences in educational attainment. Firstly, lessons in school and mainly conducted in elaborate code. This leaves the working class child at a disadvantage, to the middle class children. ...read more.


According to Sugarman and Hyman; the working class place a low value on education as a means of personal attainment and stress the importance of a "good trade" meaning a stable job with few risks. They also stress Immediate Gratification as well as seeking improvement in pay and conditions through collective actions, maybe a trade union. In contrast to this Sugarman and Hyman believed that the middle class place a high value on education and stressed the importance of a career. They said that the middle class stress Deferred Gratification and seek improvement by promotion and individual actions. The main criticism of Sugarman's and Hyman's arguments are that these statements are purely stereotypical and that not all middle class people want a career and that some working class may. It is not always the home factors that affect working class achievement; it could also be in school factors. Interactionists' explanations of differential educational achievement - based on the "labelling theory" look at what goes on in schools themselves, and in particular, teacher - pupil relationships. These theories had a major impact on the development of both the comprehensive system and the idea of "progressive" education. Labelling theories suggest that teacher judge pupils not only by their ability or intelligence but also by their characteristics that relate to gender and ethnicity, such as attitude, appearance and behaviour. ...read more.


Some people claim that it is not cultural but material factors that explain under achievement. It is said that the working class suffer from material deprivation and this means that they are unable to have the money or resources for a successful education. It is also said that the working class lack; a good diet which means they would be unable to concentrate in school due to hunger, good housing which could lead to illness and the opportunity to stay in school over the age of 16, due to economic reasons. DOUGLAS found that the differential effects of regional and of the L.E.A provision, the housing and environmental factors and the lack of access to top streams were all factors that affected the under achievement of the working class. HALSEY found that both material and cultural factors influenced the type of secondary school - Grammar or Secondary modern - that a pupil went to. However once at a secondary school, cultural factors appear to have little effect on their educational attainment. Students from working class backgrounds who stayed on after the age of 16 were almost as successful in examinations as those from service class backgrounds. In conclusion to all of these sociological explanations for working class under achievement, they sow that there are many factors working against the working class students, but with some hard work and determination, they are able to succeed just as well as any pupil from the middle class. 1 ...read more.

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