Evaluate the arguments and evidence for the view that poverty and material deprivation are the most important barriers to educational attainment. (20)
It is assumed by some people that there is a major relationship between social class and education, i.e. the higher class the child does better at educational achievement. Many of these people assume that poverty and material deprivation are the main barriers. Douglas, a sociologist who also believes that out-school factors such as poverty and material deprivation affect the child’s educational attainment, has done a study to prove this. Douglas examined the careers of 5,362 British born children. He followed them through primary school and secondary school up to the age of 16. He found that the length of stay in education was related to social class, as the middle classes stayed longer in education. Middle class parents were seen to express greater interest in their child’s education. The parents visiting the school more frequently and encouraging children to stay on at school, resulting in higher educational attainment levels, displayed this. Douglas argued that during primary socialisation, middle class children received more attention from their families and this contributes to their higher achievement. Therefore, this is how Douglas believes that out-school factors affect a child’s educational attainment. However, Douglas has also been criticised due to his sample size being too small and not enough. Critics say that from such a small sample group generalisations cannot be made. Hence, some argue that not only poverty and material deprivation are the most important barriers to educational attainment there are also cultural backgrounds. Hyman is a sociologist who studied class subcultures. He argued that the value system of the lower classes creates a self-imposing barrier; it is the values of the lower classes, which prevent success in the education system. This is how...
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