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Education for an Elite: an investigation into education favouring the ruling class.

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Introduction

A/S Sociology Coursework Aim: Education for an Elite: an investigation into education favouring the ruling class. This issue was chosen as of a continuous pattern of students from an upper middle class background being accepted at top education constitutions such as, Eton and Oxbridge. Sociologists agree that the dominant classes form the basis of the education system, in the way that most working class students share the same habitus as the middle-class students; therefore do not acquire cultural capital. Consequently, working-class culture is seen as an aberration and devalued by schools. The aim is: to investigate the relationship between the social class and education. (100 words) Context and Concepts: A major factor that confers an advantage on middle and upper class people is 'Cultural capital'. Cultural capital is 'knowledge of dominant culture'. Bourdieus' (1977) main assertion is that schools are middle class institutions, run by middle class people in which middle class pupils succeed. The dominant culture, with which the middle classes have an affinity, forms the basis of the education system, and so students from these social groups have a distinct advantage. Working class students do not share the same habitus (way of living) as the middle class students; therefore do not acquire cultural capital that is knowledge that can be translated into educational success and later into power and wealth. ...read more.

Middle

He then applied the concept of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Overall this context is linked with my study as to the idea of the Elite being labelled as the intelligent group therefore there expectations are high and do more for them to fulfil their label. An additional context by sociologist Douglas (1964), focused on home background in-order to explain the relative failure of working class children compared with their middle-class counterparts. He conducted a longitudinal study of 5362 children born in 1946, tracking them through primary and secondary schools. Douglas found that children with similar measured ability at age 7 varied a great deal in their educational attainment, and by 11 the gap had widened and these differences related to social class background. Pupils were also more likely to stay on at school if they were middle class. This generalisation tends to influence the education system that is why they end up paying more attention to the middle class rather then the working class. (658 words) Main Research Method The main research method will be semi-structured interviews, which is a qualitative approach. I would begin by interviewing two teachers from a comprehensive school, (one being male and the other female) followed by two teachers from a grammar school. The teachers would provide me the knowledge of whether or not they themselves acknowledge the class difference's while teaching, they will be able to tell me whether or not certain social backgrounds find it difficult to integrate with the education system, this may help strengthen Bernstein's concept of 'speech patterns' having an influence on social classes. ...read more.

Conclusion

(448 words) Potential Problems: Research will be small scale so it will not be possible to generalise my findings. The sample would be unlikely to be a good representation of all social classes in the education system. My sample would be a small case study based on eight people, half from a comprehensive school and half from a grammar school, which allows us to get views of both the social classes. The way the interviewee's are chosen would cause the study to be un-reliable, random sampling can result to being unreliable as there is no proper random sampling existent. There is also the case that not every teacher in a comprehensive school is also of the middle class, which could result in he/she's views supporting the apposing group. My personal social class may perhaps influence my questions when probing, which leads to asking inclined questions. A problem that may arise is that the students may feel they can-not be truly honest as of the interview being taken place at school, where they may feel there loyalty lies. A predicament that makes my study hard to carry out is the fact that the answers I receive whether good or not so good may be dependant on the interviewee's personality whether honest and kind or deceitful and malevolent. Overall the source proves to being highly unreliable. (220 words) 1 Research Proposal by Azmina Thanda ...read more.

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