• Robin Fabrin-Petersen
4. term, Sociology, Master (Master Programme)
Recent studies show that social background still plays a fundamental role in young people's choice of higher education, rather than what Western societies perceive as the means to break the negative social heritage: the individual’s capabilities. Consequently, the probability of attaining a higher education is more than three times greater if parents have a university education than if they are unskilled. These results are clear in spite of a century with generally increased growth in society, welfare state regulations and expansion of the education system. The aim of this thesis is to provide an understanding of why social distinctions persist despite society’s best efforts to cancel out inequality, and explain why this happens. This problem is operationalized into: ‘Can there be identified different upbringing- and education strategies among families from different social classes and how do the distinctions between them present themselves? Can these strategies be said to contribute to a reproduction of social distinctions in society?’.
In examining this subject, I apply Pierre Bourdieu's theory of social reproduction. In this theory, families seek to maintain and improve their social position in society through various social reproduction strategies. These reproductive strategies can, however, not be seen as reflective strategies, but should rather be considered a continuation of their habitus, where parents' life and worldview are being internalized into their children through long-lasting socialization. In addition to the theoretical aspect of explaining the thesis problem, I also apply Bourdieu’s philosophy of science, or scientific practice, as he would call it. This scientific practice argues for a double reading of the phenomenon that you wish to investigate – an objectifying reading (opus operatum) of social structures and a subjectifying reading (modus operandi) of social practices. Through an investigation of the social practices of the families’ upbringing and education strategies I gain a greater understanding (as well as explanation) of the persisting social structures.
As a method of inquiry, I have conducted in depth interviews with nine parent couples – three from the Economically Privileged class, three from the Culturally Privileged class and three from the Less Privileged class. Through the interviews with the parents, I go through topics such as ‘upbringing’, ‘the family’s everyday life’ and ‘importance of education’. In the analysis of these interviews, I apply an analytical strategy in which I start out by analyzing every family’s strategies individually through extensive coding. After the analysis of every individual family, I conduct a cross analysis to identify the distinctions between the families’ strategies. This analytical approach to the data results in an inductive analysis in which the empirical data meets theory on a more equal level.
Throughout the analysis, there can indeed be identified different upbringing and education strategies that through inductive analysis corresponds to the social classes. Thus it can be said that social practices reflects the social structures. The identified upbringing- and education strategies are as follows: The Economically Privileged seek economical gain, the Culturally Privileged seek to follow their interests and the Less Privileged have a necessity approach behind their strategies. Overall the different upbringing- and education strategies can be said to promote and reproduce the classes’ already distinct positions in the social space.
Publication date1 Oct 2016
Number of pages106
ID: 241292973