1st Edition

Education, Inequality and Social Class Expansion and Stratification in Educational Opportunity

By Ron Thompson Copyright 2019
    230 Pages
    by Routledge

    230 Pages
    by Routledge

    Education, Inequality and Social Class provides a comprehensive discussion of the empirical evidence for persistent inequality in educational attainment. It explores the most important theoretical perspectives that have been developed to understand class-based inequality and frame further research. With clear explanations of essential concepts, this book draws on empirical data from the UK and other countries to illustrate the nature and scale of inequalities according to social background, discussing the interactions of class-based inequalities with those according to race and gender.

    The book relates aspects of inequality to the features of educational systems, showing how policy choices impact on the life chances of children from different class backgrounds. The relationship between education and social mobility is also explored, using the concepts of social closure, positionality and social congestion. The book also provides detailed discussions of the work of Pierre Bourdieu and Basil Bernstein, two important theorists whose contributions have generated thriving research traditions much used in contemporary educational research.

    Education, Inequality and Social Class will be essential reading for postgraduate and advanced undergraduate students engaged in the study of education, childhood studies and sociology. It will also be of great interest to academics, researchers and teachers in training.

    1. Introduction

    2. Class in Post-Industrial Society

    3. Patterns of Inequality in Education

    4. Structure and Stratification in Educational Systems

    5. Social Reproduction: Schooling and Class Society

    6. Cultural Reproduction: Habitus, Field and Capital

    7. Pedagogic Codes: Power and Symbolic Control

    8. Rational Action: Modelling Educational Choice

    9. Education and Social Mobility

    10. Conclusion


    Ron Thompson is a Principal Research Fellow at the University of Huddersfield. His main research interests are in social class and educational inequality, and he has written extensively on young people and educational marginality. He is co-author of Education, Work and Social Change and NEET Young People and Training for Work.

    "This book is essential reading for all those concerned about social justice in education. Richly theorised and convincingly argued, the book combines a forensic analysis of educational disadvantage with a powerful examination of how class remains at the heart of educational inequalities. Always reflexive and nuanced, the book never loses sight of the complexities surrounding education disadvantage. It succeeds in bringing together empirical data from across the globe, historical insights with an intersectional perspective that recognises the importance of race and gender in the workings of class."

    Diane Reay, Professor of Education, Cambridge University.

    "Recent social research has indicated that social class inequalities of income, educational achievement and life chances have widened in recent years. Ron Thompson’s comprehensive and painstakingly researched analysis of the key issues in this crucial sphere gives the lie to neoliberal claims about enhancing the equal opportunities of all citizens through educational provision which fosters meritocratic access to academic success and well-paid jobs. This important book explains how, on the contrary, our present social and educational system reproduces class divisions and excludes large segments of the population from access to such opportunities. Thompson’s recommendations for enhancing social justice through educational reforms merit the attention of all educators and policy-makers."

    Terry Hyland, Emeritus Professor, University of Bolton and Director/Trustee at Saor-Ollscoil Na hEireann (Free University of Ireland) in Dublin.

    "This book addresses the changes in class mobility regimes since the Second World War, which have benefited myself and many others who carry the label 'baby boomers' who saw the rise in working class educational achievement and increased social mobility aided significantly by structural factors, with the decline in traditional working class employment and the subsequent rise in middle class professional roles. Although the author notes and discusses the cumulative affects of gender and race that permeate class analysis of education and social mobility, the work requires the reader to fully understand the continuing importance of class in relation to access and use of education within a society that eulogises social mobility but struggles to achieve it."

    David James, Professor in the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University, and Director of the ESRC Wales Doctoral Training Partnership.

    "This book provides a valuable addition to the existing literature on education, inequality and social class. Focusing on quantitative evidence on social class allows it to supplement recent contributions to this field which are grounded in other methodological traditions, meaning it can be read as a companion to other texts focusing on social class and education. The book will provide students and aspiring researchers of education a very helpful introduction to key issues and ideas confronting the discipline, demonstrating how ‘class remains a fundamental organizing concept for understanding society’ (p. 26)."

    Ross Goldstone, Cardiff University. Review in British Journal of Educational Studies, 67:4, 557-559, DOI: 10.1080/00071005.2019.1622306