Parental social class and GCSE attainment: re-reading the role of ‘cultural capital’

Stopforth, Sarah and Gayle, Vernon (2022) Parental social class and GCSE attainment: re-reading the role of ‘cultural capital’. British Journal of Sociology of Education. pp. 1-20. ISSN 0142-5692

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This paper examines the roles of parental social class and cultural capital in inequalities in English school qualifications. The analytical focus is the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). Integral to Bourdieu’s theory of cultural reproduction is the conception that inequalities in cultural capital explain the unequal scholastic achievements of pupils from different social class backgrounds. This paper is a novel investigation using data from Understanding Society and linked administrative education records from the National Pupil Database. The central empirical findings do not support the Bourdiuesian position, and there is no evidence that the substantial parental social class inequalities that are observed in school GCSE outcomes can be explained by inequalities in cultural capital. Engagement in reading related activities are mildly influential, but engagement in highbrow cultural activities are not influential. This is an important finding as the concept of cultural capital has become more prominent in Government education policy.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Social Work and Social Care
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2022 08:57
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2022 14:15

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