Key Concepts in Sociology (Palgrave Key Concepts)

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Researching in the fields of the sociology of knowledge, the sociology of health and the privatisation of healthcare services, Collyer recently published Mapping the Sociology of Health and Medicine. A webjournal publishing reviews of recent publications books, journal issues in the humanities and social sciences. Contents - Previous document - Next document. Review by Marc Loriol Published 30 November Fran Collyer dir.

Sargent believes that for working-class students, striving to succeed and absorbing the school's middle class values, are accepting their inferior social position as much as if they were determined to fail.

Business and Professional English » Palgrave Key Concepts :: HalInBook

The federal government subsidises 'independent' private schools enabling the rich to obtain 'good education' by paying for it. In this way, the continuation of privilege and wealth for the elite is made possible in continuum. Conflict theorists believe this social reproduction continues to occur because the whole education system is overlain with ideology provided by the dominant group. In effect, they perpetuate the myth that education is available to all to provide a means of achieving wealth and status. Anyone who fails to achieve this goal, according to the myth, has only themselves to blame.

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They have been encouraged to believe that a major goal of schooling is to strengthen equality while, in reality, schools reflect society's intention to maintain the previous unequal distribution of status and power [Fitzgerald, cited in [3] ]. This perspective has been criticised as deterministic and pessimistic, while there is some evidence for social mobility among disadvantaged students.

It should be recognised however that it is a model, an aspect of reality which is an important part of the picture. This theory of social reproduction has been significantly theorised by Pierre Bourdieu. However Bourdieu as a social theorist has always been concerned with the dichotomy between the objective and subjective, or to put it another way, between structure and agency. Bourdieu has therefore built his theoretical framework around the important concepts of habitus , field and cultural capital.

Fundamental Concepts in Max Weber’s Sociology of Religion

These concepts are based on the idea that objective structures determine individuals' chances, through the mechanism of the habitus, where individuals internalise these structures. However, the habitus is also formed by, for example, an individual's position in various fields, their family and their everyday experiences. Therefore, one's class position does not determine one's life chances, although it does play an important part, alongside other factors.

Bourdieu used the idea of cultural capital to explore the differences in outcomes for students from different classes in the French educational system.

He explored the tension between the conservative reproduction and the innovative production of knowledge and experience. Bourdieu argues that it is the culture of the dominant groups, and therefore their cultural capital, which is embodied in schools, and that this leads to social reproduction.

The cultural capital of the dominant group, in the form of practices and relation to culture, is assumed by the school to be the natural and only proper type of cultural capital and is therefore legitimated. It demands "uniformly of all its students that they should have what it does not give" [Bourdieu [29] ]. This legitimate cultural capital allows students who possess it to gain educational capital in the form of qualifications. Those lower-class students are therefore disadvantaged. To gain qualifications they must acquire legitimate cultural capital, by exchanging their own usually working-class cultural capital.

Class ethos is described as the particular dispositions towards, and subjective expectations of, school and culture. It is in part determined by the objective chances of that class. The subjective expectations influenced by the objective structures found in the school, perpetuate social reproduction by encouraging less-privileged students to eliminate themselves from the system, so that fewer and fewer are to be found as one journeys through the levels of the system. The process of social reproduction is neither perfect nor complete, [28] but still, only a small number of less-privileged students achieve success.

For the majority of these students who do succeed at school, they have had to internalise the values of the dominant classes and use them as their own, to the detriment of their original habitus and cultural values. Therefore, Bourdieu's perspective reveals how objective structures play an important role in determining individual achievement in school, but allows for the exercise of an individual's agency to overcome these barriers, although this choice is not without its penalties.

Drawing on Bourdieu's ideas, Fuller [32] adds to the theoretical understanding of structure and agency by considering how young people shape their educational identity and how this identity is often the result of messages reflected at them, for example, through grades, setting and gendered expectations. Social location is considered important but its role is complex. They acknowledge the extent to which students frequently need to access a range of material quickly, in a 'pick and mix' fashion. These books are both a reference guide and a critical guide.

Essentially, this series serves as the ideal Internet search, quickly and helpfully providing students with exactly the kind of information and, more particularly, ideas they need to move their work along. One of a range of comprehensive glossaries with entries arranged alphabetically for easy reference. All major concepts, terms, theories and theorists are incorporated and cross-referenced.

Additional reading and Internet research opportunities are identified.

Finding key concepts

More complex terminology is made clearer with numerous diagrams and illustrations. Organized alphabetically, it provides a comprehensive selection of accessible definitions of key cultural studies terms, guides readers to critical reference for further reading and places cultural studies in disciplinary and interdisciplinary contexts.


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It will help students understand their main textbooks and wider reading.