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

By Stephen J. Ball | Go to book overview

Notes

1Introduction
1
Except that it is written against current attempts to make educational research into a search for simple certitudes.
2
This project might have benefited from a comparative research design, setting middle class strategies over and against those of working class families (Watson 1993). However, that would also have been a different kind of exercise, and a dissipation of focus. With Diane Reay I have already written two papers addressed to working class educational strategies - I shall refer to these at times in the text. Other work (Reay 1998a, Reay 1998b, Reay 2000) compares working class and middle class mothers and Skeggs (1997) and others (Mahony and Zmroczek 1997) focus on the social mobility of working class women. The comparisons which are undertaken here are those within and among the middle classes themselves. The text is also written from a partial and situated perspective. This situatedness is taken up substantively in the analysis (see Chapters 4 and 6). The middle class actors represented here are not representative in any technical sense (see Appendix I).
3
Although like many others I see Marx's and Weber's concepts of class, notwithstanding the basic differences, as overlapping rather than irrevocably opposed and antagonistic.
4
Bourdieu's (1990c) notion of symbolic violence is very apt here, as the right to impose legitimately arbitrary power, which it also conceals. Choice and competition are presented as in the general good but as argued here they actually work to strengthen 'the established balance of power in preventing the apprehension of power relations as power' (14-15).

2Class and strategy
1
One valid question to ask here would be whether the sorts of choosing and sorts of strategies attributed here to the middle classes are exclusive to them. In an absolute sense clearly not; however, my previous work with Sharon Gewirtz and Richard Bowe indicated that other criteria for choice were employed by working class families and different constraints upon choice were confronted. The working class criteria were founded in cohesion and social reproduction but of a different sort. Parkin (1974:5) argues that it is possible 'to visualize the fundamental cleavage in the stratification order as that point where one set of class strategies gives way to a radically different set'. Some critics and commentators appear to read our previous work as suggesting that working class choice is deficient. This is simply not the case. We began to outline a set of perspectives related to the cohesion and reproduction of community, as distinct from the positional competitivism

-189-

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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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