Class Strategies and the Education Market: The Middle Classes and Social Advantage

By Stephen J. Ball | Go to book overview

4

Social class as social closure

A strategic approach

Social closure is the means: 'by which social collectivities seek to maximise rewards by restructuring access to resources and opportunities to a limited circle of eligibles'.

(Parkin 1979:44)

Parents take a much livelier interest in the schoolmates than in the school books of their children.

(Walzer 1984:215)

This chapter begins by explaining, then elaborating and then deploying, a set of concepts, alluded to previously, drawn from the work of Parkin (1979). Later the discussion is extended to incorporate Bourdieu's work on 'discrimination' and 'social structure in the head' and use is also made of Bernstein's work on social class and pedagogies. This chapter is a companion piece to Chapter 3 in that it takes up again the issue of social closure. In this case the emphasis is not upon the deliberative control of the rules of the game that provide the framework for policies of choice in education, but rather on the use of these rules to achieve and maintain social closure in practice. That is to say, the focus here is upon those 'definite social exertions' (Parkin 1979:63) that middle-class families must make on their own part 'or face the very real prospect of generational decline' (Parkin 1979:63). Taking up the framework outlined in Chapter 2, I am suggesting that now more than previously middle-class families 'must approach the task [of achieving closure] more in the manner of a challenge than as a foregone conclusion' (Parkin 1979:63). In effect status and advantage can 'only be preserved as a result of the adaptation by the bourgeois family to the demands of institutions designed to serve a different purpose, it does not come about as a natural consequence of closure rules themselves' (Parkin 1979:62). In effect families must work on, in and with public and private institutions to achieve their particular ends and interests. This is not an issue that Parkin himself attends to in any detail, even in his discussion of education and credentialism, but he provides a vocabulary from which to start. In some respects there is a parallel

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Class Strategies and the Education Market: The Middle Classes and Social Advantage
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations viii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Class and Strategy 14
  • 3 - Class and Policy 25
  • 4 - Social Class as Social Closure 53
  • 5 - Social Capital, Social Class and Choice 79
  • 6 - Values and Principles 111
  • 7 - Risk, Uncertainty and Fear 148
  • 8 - Class Practices and Inequality 167
  • Appendix I 181
  • Appendix II 188
  • Notes 189
  • Bibliography 194
  • Index 211
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