Sociology

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INEQUALITIES IN EDUCATION
GENDER CLASS ETHNICITY

CLASS
• WHY ARE THERE INEQUALITIES BASED ON
CLASS?
•  INTELLIGENCE? •  VALUES? •  CULTURAL OR MATERIAL FACTORS?

INTELLIGENCE
•  Some social scientists argue that some people are simply more

intelligent than others. •  This assumption results from IQ tests. •  However, IQ tests are a questionable tool to measure intelligence. •  Because: standards used in such tests are •  middle class standards, •  Western cultural context

Therefore: difficult to measure the Western standard IQ of a nonWestern culture •  And: difficult to measure the IQ of subcultures within the same society. •  THEREFORE: case of intelligence is largely discredited as a credible

explanation to describe why working class children fair worse than middle/upper class children in educational system.

Values, Class and Educational achievement
•  Herbert Hyman: emphasises the distinctive ‘norms’ and

‘values’ of social classes. •  Hyman states: the values system of lower classes creates “a self imposed barrier’ that keeps them from improving their position: •  This self imposed barrier includes values found in the

lower class:
•  Lower value on education •  Lower value on achieving higher status than previous generation •  A belief that they have less opportunity for personal advancement

than other groups in society.

Values continued..
•  Barry Sugarman: attitudes to work •  Manual workers consider their attitude to work with: •  1. FATALISM: workers accept their situation rather than feel

encouraged to improve it. •  2. IMMEDIATE GRATIFICATION: Most of the time, in manual work, a person is earning money at a young age. Yet, his/her wage does not improve much over time. •  3. PRESENT-TIME ORIENTATION: manual workers do not envisage long-term planning in their jobs, and long-term planning is not possible anyway. •  This attitude is reflected in their attitude to education: they do not envisage long-term planning for their own or their children’s education. •  4. COLLECTIVISM: great loyalty to fellow workers, moving up the social ladder is considered being disloyal to the group.

Cultural? or Material factors?
•  Family income: determines levels of educational attainment, if

there are greater financial resources, children are bound to enjoy: •  More educational toys •  Greater range of books •  A superior diet

•  More space in the home to concentrate on homework and studies •  Greater opportunities to travel •  Support for private tuition •  Private education/schools •  Therefore, the more affluent the parents, the better their position,

financially at least, to provide greater educational opportunities for their children BEFORE they go to school and DURING their school experience.

CULTURAL AND MATERIAL factors!
•  Halsey et al (1980) point out that both cultural and

material factors are important in influencing children’s educational attainment. •  England: family determines whether a child attends Comprehensive or private secondary education. •  On finishing Secondary education: more of a financial

issue whether an individual pursued further education or not. •  Tertiary level: material disadvantages become more

significant.

Gender & educational attainment
•  Research up to first part of 1980s: though girls performed

as well as boys, they fell behind later on in their educational careers. •  By mid 1990s, females had overtaken males in

qualifications up to age 18 in the UK.

Why?
•  Innate ability? •  Early socialisation? •  Material factors? •  Socialisation in schools? •  Self-Confidence?

Innate ability
•  Some believe there are innate differences between males

and females. •  Goldstein claims that at post-secondary level, boys are better at mathematics and reading, and girls do better than boys in reasoning tests. •  Still, the case of innate ability is considered rather weak as an explanation, and other explanations are...
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