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Using material from Item A and elsewhere, assess the view that working-class underachievement in education is the result of home circumstances and family background

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AS Sociology Essay Douglas is one sociologist in particular who would tend to agree with the generalisation that working-class underachievement in education is the result of home circumstances and family background. Douglas feels that this educational underachievement is maintained due to what he classifies as 'poor' parental attitudes and encouragement towards the education system and its functions. He use's evidence of poor parental interest with regards to lack of attendance at parent teacher meetings and other functions held by the school which would be in the best interests of the children if their parents attended. He highlights the fact that parents of working-class students have poor rates of attendance at these meetings and thus it comes across as if they are less interested in their child's educational experiences and opportunities compared to a middle-class child's parents who do attend. However some would say that Douglas' view is rather controversial in that he fails to recognise that many of these parents could be at work when these meetings are scheduled or perhaps they are looking after children and are unable to find or afford someone to look after them. So can we really say that working class underachievement is a result of home circumstances and family background as sociologists such as Douglas suggest? Newson and Newson would also agree with the statement that working-class underachievement in education is the result of home circumstances and family background. ...read more.


The feminist sociologist Melanie Philips would also agree with this statement. She states that modern family life in Britain is characterised by a rapidly increasing number of broken families in which effective socialisation has been disrupted and disordered. She is in the opinion that inadequate parenting among one parent, reconstituted families and cohabiting couples. She points out that working-class families have high levels of these broken families and thus their underachievement is caused by the family disruption and disorder. While Philips makes a valid point she fails to take into consideration the fact that many children strive and work hard at school despite being part of these family structures. So is it correct to say that working-class underachievement is caused by home circumstances and family background? Bernstein focuses on the concept of cultural deprivation and how this has been an influential factor on educational achievement. Bernstein points out that working-class children are linguistically deprived due to the fact that they use a restricted code in contrast to middle-class children who use a more elaborated one. He feels that this places them at an advantage as they are able to meet the demands of what teachers and examinations ask of them as they understand what is being requested. Working-class students on the other hand find this difficult as they have been brought up with linguistic deprivation. ...read more.


Lack of quiet place to study, healthy diet etc contribute to absenteeism and results in them underachieving. Halsey also points out that money becomes a barrier for working-class students from continuing in education despite having similar intelligence to middle-class children. If this is the case then we are nearly inclined to feel that home circumstances and family background is a reason for working-class underachievement. In consideration of the points outlined I feel that while cultural capital, cultural deprivation and material deprivation have contributed to educational underachievement they are not the only reasons why working-class students are doing poorly in school. Internal factors which interactionists point out such as streaming, labelling, self-fulfilling prophecy and deciding what constitutes as the 'ideal pupil' have all greatly hindered how working-class students perceive school and how they act as a result. While indeed students may witness domestic violence or be a victim of child abuse within a working-class home or have lack of money or material this may not necessarily be the case for all working-class children. They may find the negative stereotypical nature of school and the view the teacher places upon them as greatly affecting their academic performance and thus they do poorly in school and are classified as underachieving. I personally feel that such factors which occur internally in schools are as much to blame for working-class underachievement as home circumstances and family life. These internal factors can have a profound affect on students and their educational achievement rather their home situations. ?? ?? ?? ?? Declan Magennis 13/32 Sociology Essay ...read more.

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