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

By Stephen J. Ball | Go to book overview

2

Class and strategy

Classes may have changed but they still count …

(Crompton 1998:226)

This book is about 'selection and differentiation … [in education] … produced by the action of families' (Gewirtz, Ball and Bowe 1995:56) and the ways in which families' 'choices tend not merely to reflect but to augment and amplify social-class differentiation' (Hatcher 1998:20). The book takes up lines of analysis which have been central to my work in the sociology of education for almost 30 years. These began in my undergraduate work with my tutor Denis Marsden (see Jackson and Marsden 1962) and were then taken up in my PhD (Ball 1981), supervized by Colin Lacey (Lacey 1970). More recently these lines have been pursued through a series of studies of education markets and choice (Gewirtz, Ball and Bowe 1995; Reay 2000; Vincent 2000; Ball, Maguire and Macrae 2000). More specifically the book takes up and builds upon ideas and analyses touched upon in a series of papers published during the 1990s (Ball 1993; Ball, Bowe and Gewirtz 1995, 1996; Ball 1997a; Reay and Ball 1998; Ball and Vincent 1998). The agenda to be pursued here was in fact outlined schematically in the first of these papers: 'Education markets, choice and social class: The market as a class strategy in the UK and the USA'. I do not think quickly! I argued, somewhat grossly, in that paper that: 'The market works as a class strategy by creating a mechanism which can be exploited by the middle classes as a strategy of reproduction in their search for relative advantage, social advancement and mobility' (Ball 1993:17). This book takes that proposition seriously and takes it further. 1

The substance of the book is a set of interpretative forays into the field of post-welfare education. This involves a secondary re-working of data from four choice projects. 2 In this chapter I will lay out the theoretical and conceptual background to that re-working. Four things are involved. First, I will acknowledge some of the most important influences that bear upon my thinking and outline the terrain within which the theoretical 'viewpoints' taken up within the substantive analytical work are set. Second, I will make a very brief excursion into the dangerous and controversial arena of class analysis. I will

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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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