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Bourdieu's Social Reproductive Theory and Working Class in Education - Essay Example

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Running Head: BOURDIEU’S SOCIAL REPRODUCTIVE THEORY Bourdieu’s Social Reproductive Theory and Working Class in Education [Author’s Name] Bourdieu’s Social Reproductive Theory and Working Class in Education Introduction Upward mobility for the working class is limited by both material and cultural structures in western society…
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Bourdieus Social Reproductive Theory and Working Class in Education
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Download file to see previous pages Working class culture was covertly taught to be valueless. As a result, many contributors found that any attempt to bring up social class in the academy was quickly silenced. While the number of working and poverty class persons who hold a college degree is low, the subset of those that have attained a Ph.D. is undoubtedly far less. Certainly the working class' scarcity of representation within academia is part of the reason for so little information about this subject. So few working or poverty class students reach this level, it would seem a prime population to study given the notion of a fair and meritocratic system. A lack of understanding exists, however, in examining the lives of working class students as they attempt to bridge the gap between their material and cultural background and the world of academe, in which the middle class dominate both physically and culturally. Social Reproduction Theory Often referred to as social reproduction theory, Bourdieu and those utilising the Bourdieusian frame offer a valuable theoretical base for understanding the lives of the working class and poverty class. Bourdieu's economic metaphors enable us to see how culture is relational to the economic. He developed a political economy that includes cultural practices in an understanding of power. Bourdieu outlines four types of capital: economic, cultural, social, and symbolic. As with all capital, the more you possess, the easier it is to generate more. As Swartz (1996, p. 78) explains, "these [capitals] are not tidy, well-delimited theoretical arguments but orienting themes that overlap and interpenetrate." The base for these capitals is explicitly understood to be material within a Bourdieusian paradigm. One is born into a familial environment that places the individual somewhere on a proverbial starting line in a highly competitive race for resources. However, given that not all persons begin at the same starting line, the competition is rigged from the onset. Family income, wealth, and anticipated inheritance or capital gains form the basis for how a person enters the endurance race for resources. Some with family resources start on the fifty-yard line, while others who are not on the private dole will amass around the crowded starting line. Field Bourdieu uses the heuristic devices of field, habitus, and capitals in order to explore how classes become both materially and culturally dominated. While both neoliberalism and meritocracy adhere to the myth of individualisation and equal chances, Bourdieu explicitly challenges these notions and insists that humans are products of our material history, in that we begin as agents with the accumulations of capitals from our lineage. The class that dominates in each field may vary, but the rules for that field will almost always benefit the dominant. Additionally, conflicts for scarce and valuable positions of authority and prestige between classes are rare, partly because such distinction is obtained by being spatially distant from groups lower on the social hierarchy (Savage et al. 2004: 95). Fields are structured spaces that are therefore often homogeneously occupied by people "endowed with the habitus that implies knowledge and recognition of the imminent laws of the field, the stakes and so on" (Bourdieu 1993:72). Those few who enter the field with different habitus will ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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