How Does Social Class Affect Education?

In this post, we explore how social class can affect education and what implications this has for society as a whole.

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Introduction

Social class is a form of social stratification that affects people’s lives in a number of ways. In the United States, socio-economic status (SES) is often used as a proxy for social class. SES is determined by a number of factors, including income, occupation, and education.

Sociologists have long argued that social class has a significant impact on educational outcomes. Studies have shown that students from lower-income families are less likely to finish high school and less likely to go on to college than their more affluent peers. They are also more likely to drop out of college if they do attend.

There are a number of reasons why social class affects education. One reason is that students from lower-income families are more likely to attend schools that are underfunded and have fewer resources. This can lead to lower test scores and increased dropout rates. Additionally, students from lower-income families are more likely to face challenges at home, such as poverty, poor health, and violence. This can make it difficult for them to focus on their studies and do well in school.

Despite the challenges faced by students from lower-income families, there have been some efforts to level the playing field. Initiatives like Title I funding and Head Start provide additional resources to schools serving low-income students. These programs have shown some success in reducing the achievement gap between rich and poor students. However, much more needs to be done in order to ensure that all students have equal access to quality education regardless of their social class background.

Theoretical Framework

Social class is a structural variable in the United States that can affect one’s life chances and opportunities. In terms of education, social class can affect things like the type of school a child attends, the quality of the education they receive, and the resources that are available to them.

Bourdieu’s Theory of Social Reproduction

In his seminal work on social class and education, French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu outlines a theory of social reproduction that has become one of the most influential in the field.

Bourdieu’s theory argues that social classes are reproduced through the education system. That is, the education system perpetuates existing social inequalities by disproportionately benefiting those from higher social classes.

This happens in two ways. First, Bourdieu argues that the education system is designed to give an advantage to those from higher social classes. This is because the curriculum and assessment methods favor those who have already had access to privileged forms of education. Second, Bourdieu argues that lower-class children are less likely to succeed in the education system because they lack the cultural capital (i.e., knowledge and skills) that middle- and upper-class children have acquired through their home environment.

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As a result of these two factors, Bourdieu’s theory suggests that the education system entrenches existing social inequalities rather than providing opportunities for upward mobility.

Coleman’s Theory of Social Capital

Coleman’s Theory of Social Capital states that there are three main components of social capital: bonding, bridging, and linking. Bonding social capital is when people form relationships with others who are like them. Bridging social capital is when people form relationships with others who are different from them. Linking social capital is when people form relationships with people who have power or influence.

Empirical Evidence

In order to understand how social class affects education, one must first understand what is meant by “social class.” Social class is typically thought of as a combination of occupation, income, education, and status. It is important to remember that social class is not just about how much money someone has. Instead, it is a combination of various factors that affect someone’s lifestyle and opportunities.

The Relationship Between Social Class and Educational Attainment

Despite considerable changes in the structure of class inequalities over time, educational inequalities by social class remain relatively stable in Britain. However, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that these inequalities are beginning to increase once again. In this essay, I will critically evaluate the extent to which social class still affects education.

There are a number of different ways in which social class can affect education. Firstly, those from lower-class backgrounds are less likely to go to university than those from middle- or upper-class backgrounds. Secondly, even when they do go to university, they are less likely to achieve good grades than their more affluent peers. Finally, those from lower-class backgrounds are more likely to drop out of university than those from higher-class backgrounds.

There is a great deal of evidence to support all three of these claims. For example, a recent study by the think tank Policy Exchange found that just 6% of students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds achieved top grades at GCSE level, compared to 38% of students from the most advantaged backgrounds. Similarly, data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency shows that only 27% of students from the lowest social class backgrounds go on to attend university, compared to 59% of students from the highest social class backgrounds.

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These findings make it clear that social class still has a significant impact on education. However, it is important to note that this is not simply a matter of wealthy parents being able to buy their children’s way into good schools and universities. There is also a great deal of evidence to suggest that children from lower-class backgrounds face significant obstacles even before they start school. For example, research has shown that children from poorer families are more likely to grow up in poor housing conditions, with inadequate access to food and healthcare. This can have a significant impact on their development and learning ability, making it harder for them to catch up with their more affluent peers later on in life.

It is also important to consider how social class affects people’s educational choices and attainment beyond school and university. One recent study found that people from lower-class backgrounds were much less likely than those from higher-class backgrounds to take up apprenticeships or other forms of vocational training after leaving school. This means that they are less likely to gain the skills and qualifications needed for well-paid jobs later on in life.

In conclusion, it is clear that social class does still have a significant impact on education. While children from wealthier families may have some advantages over their poorer peers, such as access to better schools and universities, there is also evidence to suggest that many children from lower-class backgrounds face significant obstacles throughout their educational journey

The Relationship Between Social Class and Educational Aspirations

It is well documented that there are differences in educational attainment by social class. However, what is often less clear is the extent to which these differences are due to socio-economic status (SES) itself, or whether they are the result of other factors associated with SES. This question is important because if SES does indeed have a direct effect on educational attainment, then interventions aimed at reducing socio-economic inequality should have a positive impact on educational outcomes. Conversely, if the relationship between SES and educational attainment is solely due to other factors, then interventions targeted at SES may be ineffective.

There is a large body of research that has looked at the relationship between social class and educational attainment. However, most of this research has been conducted in developed countries and may not be applicable to developing countries. Additionally, much of this research has been correlational in nature, meaning that it cannot establish causation. Nevertheless, the available evidence suggests that there is a strong relationship between social class and educational attainment.

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developed countries:
In a review of the literature, researchers found that in developed countries, children from lower-SES backgrounds are less likely to complete high school and attend college than their higher-SES counterparts (de Freitas & y Senovilla LópezCallao, 2016). Similarly, another review found that in developed countries, students from lower-SES backgrounds are more likely to drop out of school than those from higher-SES backgrounds (Sirin & Crocker, 1999). These findings are consistent with the notion that SES has a direct effect on educational attainment.

developing countries:
The evidence from developing countries is somewhat mixed. In some studies, researchers have found no relationship between social class and educational attainment (Ahmed & Begum, 2005; Meowenzi & Mullis , 2006). However, other studies have found that children from lower -SES backgrounds are less likely to attend school or complete primary education than those from higher-SES backgrounds (Desai & Radelet , 2004; Islam & Bauchner , 1999;Lockheed et al., 1991; Pandey et al., 1988 ). These findings suggest that while SES may not have a direct effect on educational attainment in all developing countries , it may still play a role in some contexts .

correlation vs causation:
It should be noted that most of the research cited above is correlational in nature . This means that it cannot establish causation . For example , it could be the case that students from lower -SES backgrounds drop out of school because they do not have the resources necessary to succeed . Alternatively , it could be the case that students from lower -SES backgrounds drop out of school because they lack motivation or face discrimination . It is also possible that both of these factors play a role . Without experiments or other forms of causal evidence , it is difficult to say for sure which factor(s) are responsible for the relationship between social class and educational attainment .

Conclusion

In conclusion, social class affects education in a number of ways. Lower-class families are less likely to invest in their children’s education, both in terms of time and resources. This means that children from lower-class backgrounds are less likely to do well in school and go on to college. In addition, the lower class is more likely to live in areas with poor schools, which further exacerbates the problem. Finally, lower-class students are more likely to face discrimination and other obstacles when they try to access higher education.

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