How Does Social Class Affect Educational Attainment?

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Tom Doherty 12JA – Sociology Investigation

How Does Social Class Affect Educational Attainment?


      My intentions in this project are to demonstrate research into the relationship between class and educational attainment. I will include previous studies by well-known sociologists and the outcomes of their research, as well as creating my own research methods. My research methods will include how I intend to gather information on my study of social class. The Aim of the project is to find relationships between social class and educational attainment and explain the out come, previous studies indicate that working class pupils do less well academically and my project explains the reasons why, and how one might go about gathering useful information about it


     It is believed that difference in class culture can contribute to educational success or failure. Douglas believed parental interest was the most important factor in educational success, his research suggested middle class parents showed more interest than working class parents. However, his research has been criticised, as he measured parental interest by attendance at open days, and job difference between middle class and working class parents may account for this. These and other findings came to be known as cultural deprivation, believing that those at the bottom of the class structure are deprived of certain values and skills that are vital for educational success. Computers, printers and new technologies are often not available to working class children and because of this they suffer from a lack of opportunity, ambition, and fatalism. This theory has come under great criticism though, from those who believe that differences between class cultures are insignificant.

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     Rather than looking at factors within the family, there are those who believe that it is the class structure that creates this educational inequality, and that equality is impossible in a class-based society. Bourdieu, a Marxist, argues that the role of the education system is to reinforce class differences. This is achieved by promoting the ‘dominant culture´ of the ruling classes in the classroom through use of language, ensuring that working class students will be less likely to understand and be understood. This disadvantages working class students, and by creating educational success and failure, this means that the ...

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