The Reproduction of Inequality

Topics: Sociology, Capitalism, Economic system Pages: 3 (757 words) Published: December 21, 2009
In relation to the topic, MacLeod explains social reproduction as the theory that “explains how societal institutions perpetuate or reproduce the social relationships and attitudes needed to sustain the existing relations of production in a capitalist society.” (MacLeod 9) In this definition, the societal institutions are places like, government offices, and schools. These institutions according to him help continue to maintain the status quo by preserving the existing barriers between classes. To investigate this there are two main ways to analyze the situation, one can use the advocate deterministic model or the model that focuses more on the autonomy of the individual. The deterministic model takes into account the structural requirement of the capitalist economic system. With this information, the theorists attempt to explain the predetermined roles that are laid out for a student. Usually these results focus on the student continuing on a path that leads to the same social class. The other model, which is more culturally attuned, is more focused on the experiences of the student and only after these are understood does the theorist being to connect that with the capitalistic society.

These models help to explain the different types of capital that one may or may not possess. One commonly referred from of capital is that of economic nature. However, although monetary wealth is an important aspect of this it is not limited to money. Any type of good or service that can be traded for some type of material gain would be considered apart of cultural capital. (Kennedy 2009) Social capital is yet another factor that is important in assessing the reproduction of inequalities. The relationships that one has within their network and the powers that the different connections yield explain the concept of this type of capital. An example of this is from the McDonough article. The parents of the upper-middle class students used their...

References: Bourdieu, P. (1973). Knowledge, education and cultural change (pp. 71-112). London: Tavistock.
Kennedy, B. L. (2009). The Reproduction of Inequalities (part 1) [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from
Lareau, A. (2003). Unequal childhoods: Class race and family life. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
MacLeod, J. (1995). Ain’t no makin’ it (pp. 9-21). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
McDonough, P. (1994). Buying and selling higher education: The social construction of the college applicant. Journal of Higher Education, 65(4), 427-446.
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