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Evaluate sociological explanations for working class underachievement.

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Evaluate sociological explanations for working class underachievement. During the twentieth century, numerous changes were made to the structure of the education system. These changes include the 1944 Education act which made secondary education obligatory and the introduction of the National Curriculum in 1988. Official statistics state that all these measures have served to amplify the overall levels of educational attainment, but both official and sociological evidence indicates that class-based inequities in educational attainment have shown no inclination to decline. Sociological explanations have suggested many different reasons for the class base differences in educational achievement. It is suggested that the diversity in educational success between different classes are due to home and family factors. This approach is based on the belief that those from different social classes have significantly differing home lives. It is possible to split home and family based factors into three main categories, material factors, cultural factors and sub-cultural factors. Each factor serves as an explanation for working class underachievement but material, cultural and sub-cultural factors are all outside school justifications and therefore inside school justifications also have to be taken into consideration when clarifying reasons for working class underachievement. Cultural factors include both cultural deprivation and cultural capital. Cultural deprivation means to be deficient in the skills and values required to be successful in education. This explanation points out that working class children are short of stimulus in the home due to lack of parental interest, ...read more.


However, the major difference from working class school failures is that the students in Aggleton's study where not held back in the labour market by their lack of academic qualifications because they had 'cultural capital'. Further more Jackson and Marsden in 'Education and the Working Class' argued; working class children caught between two cultures-home/school. Parents were eager but had limited resources and relationships with staff were awkward Cultural capital was an explanation formed by Pierre Bourdieu. Bourdieu believed that middle class children, possess and are rewarded with power and success. Bourdieu thought that the middle class own the sort of culture that enables educational and social advancement while the working class do not. Akin to cultural deprivation this theory has been criticised. It is said not to have as much importance as material factors and Bourdieu was too vague about the values of the theory. Sub-cultural aspects have been suggested to explain working class underachievement. Sub-culture supposed to be the fact that middle class people and working class people have different value systems and that the working class practice in immediate gratification while the middle class do not. Sugarman and Hymen agreed that sub-cultural factors explained working class underachievement. This theory like others has also been criticised. This theory is generalising for that reason it may not be so of all working class and middle class people. ...read more.


It is not just the above factors that need to be taken into consideration. Other clarifications have been formed for the explaining of working class underachievement, one example of this is Genetic explanations. Since intelligence is 'fixed' it can be scientifically measured therefore objective tests have shown that working class students are less intelligent than middle class students. These measured differences in IQ explain class inequalities in educational achievement and it explains that class differences in educational achievement are continuing over time because intelligence is mainly inherited. This approach was firstly associated with Eysenck and Jenson Like all explanations and theories for the educational underachievement of working class children this theory has also been criticised. It is said that there is no agreed definition of intelligence and there is no way to exclude the influence of environmental factors i.e. type of question and type of answer. as well as this IQ tests cannot tell us about 'potential' and IQ scores can be affected by variables that are independent of intelligence - reactions to the test situation, nervousness, distrust, lack of familiarity. In conclusion, there are many different explanations of class-based differences in educational success. However, they are not necessarily isolated, and the factors identified on one theory may be a cause of the factors outlined in another. The reasons for class-based differences may therefore be very complex, and not able to be explained by a single factor in isolation. ?? ?? ?? ?? Claire Newby, Sociology Essay. ...read more.

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