Education, Inequality, and Social Identity

Education, Inequality, and Social Identity

Education, Inequality, and Social Identity

Education, Inequality, and Social Identity


The ethnographic studies in this volume explore issues and approaches in the study of education and inequality. The authors identify that access to status, knowledge and power in society and in particular, in schools varies by virtue of individuals' social and cultural identities. The process of changing this system and resistance to change are examined in this collection, in an attempt to find a course of action for those who are victims of inequality or who seek to combat inequality.


Ethnography is often portrayed by its critics as 'soft-edged'. Inasmuch that it is based on 'taking' rather than 'making' problems it can be seen to fail to address major social problems in favour of smaller scale personal worries. But not all ethnography is like that. This book is not like that. After all, C. Wright-Mills argued that the promise of the sociological imagination lies in the linking of personal troubles with social issues, specific milieux with structural changes. Good ethnography does not have to be short sighted. When well done it can 'deliver the goods', in Wright-Mills' terms, more effectively than many other social science methodologies.

This collection is concerned with inequality; poverty, social class, gender (male and female) and ethnicity. It explores identity construction, changes in social relations, life histories, and the social and cultural roles of teachers. There is also a strong reflexive theme running through the papers.

Some of the major figures in Australian qualitative research are represented here and the collection as a whole provides a crucial, state of the art overview of the contribution of ethnography to our understanding of the experience and processes of inequality in education and the construction of diverse social identities.

Stephen J. Ball
King's College London
University of London

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