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ANRV388-AN38-03 ARI 21 April 2009 17:25 E R V I E W Review in Advance first posted online on June 12, 2009. (Minor changes may still occur before final publication online and in print.) A D V A N C E S I N Social Reproduction in Classrooms and Schools James Collins Annu. Rev. Anthropol. 2009.38. Downloaded from by State University of New York - Albany on 07/09/09. For personal use only. Department of Anthropology, University at Albany, State University of
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   ANRV388-AN38-03 ARI 21 April 2009 17:25     R   E V I E  W    S      I               N     A  D  V A    N     C         E Social Reproduction inClassrooms and Schools  James Collins Department of Anthropology, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany,New York 12222; email: Annu. Rev. Anthropol. 2009.38:33–48 The Annual Review of Anthropology is online This article’s doi:10.1146/annurev.anthro.37.081407.085242Copyrightc  2009 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved0084-6570/09/1021-0033$20.00 Key Words language, social class, social inequality, education, ethnographies,multilevel analysis  Abstract  Social reproduction theory argues that schools are not institutions of equal opportunity but mechanisms for perpetuating social inequalities. This review discusses the emergence and development of social repro-duction analyses of education and examines three main perspectives onreproduction: economic, cultural, and linguistic. Reproduction analy-ses emerged in the 1960s and were largely abandoned by the 1990s;some of the conceptual and political reasons for this turning away areaddressed. New approaches stress concepts such as agency, identity,person, and voice over the structural constraints of political economy or code, but results have been mixed. Despite theoretical and method-ologicaladvances—includingnewapproachestomultilevelanalysisandalertness to temporal processes—the difficult problem remains to un-derstand how social inequality results from the interplay of classrooms,schools, and the wider society.  33    A  n  n  u .   R  e  v .   A  n   t   h  r  o  p  o   l .   2   0   0   9 .   3   8 .   D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   f  r  o  m   a  r   j  o  u  r  n  a   l  s .  a  n  n  u  a   l  r  e  v   i  e  w  s .  o  r  g   b  y   S   t  a   t  e   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  y  o   f   N  e  w   Y  o  r   k  -   A   l   b  a  n  y  o  n   0   7   /   0   9   /   0   9 .   F  o  r  p  e  r  s  o  n  a   l  u  s  e  o  n   l  y .   ANRV388-AN38-03 ARI 21 April 2009 17:25 INTRODUCTION  Concern with the processes whereby societiesand cultures perpetuate themselves has an an-cient pedigree, traceable back to Aristotle’s(1959) analysis of the domestic economy inpolitical orders. Researchers have suggestedthat scholastic institutions were important sitesof cultural reproduction in classical Greece(Lloyd 1990), imperial Rome (Guillory 1993),medieval Europe (Bloch 1961), and modernFrance (Durkheim 1977). Overt concern withsocial reproduction is, however, a product of post–World War II social dynamics, especially the political and intellectual ferment of the1960s. It is a product of concern with inequal-ity. As a framework of inquiry, it draws fromdiversedisciplinesbutistypicallyrootedindia-logue with Marxist traditions of social analysis.Early studies of social reproduction in edu-cation emerged in the 1960s and 1970s in theUnited States, Britain, and France. Founda-tional works include Bowles & Gintis’s (1976) Schooling in Capitalist America (United States), Willis’s (1977) Learning to Labor  (Britain), andBourdieu & Passeron’s (1977) Reproduction in Education, Culture, and Society (France). Al-though these works differed in regard to the-orization, scope of analysis, and methodology,eachattemptedtotracelinksbetweeneconomicstructures, schooling experience, and modes of consciousness and cultural activity. Their anal- yses responded to debates concerning centralcontradictions of these postwar societies. Ineachcountry,publiceducationwasofficiallyun-derstood and presented as a meritocratic insti-tutioninwhichtalentandeffortalonepredictedoutcomes,butbythepost–WorldWarIIperiodconsiderableevidenceindicatedotherwise(e.g.,Coleman 1966, Jencks 1972). The basic reproductionist argument wasthat schools were not exceptional institutionspromotingequalityofopportunity;insteadthey reinforced the inequalities of social structureand cultural order found in a given country.How they were understood to do so dependedon the theoretical perspective of analysts, thesites they prioritized for study, and a varyingemphasis on top-down structural determina-tion versus bottom-up agency by individualsor small groups. Early research on educationalreproduction provided structuralist accounts,identifyingsystematicfeaturesoflanguage,cul-ture, and political economy, which were re-flectedintheconductandorganizationofclass-rooms and curricula and assigned a causal rolein perpetuating linguistic, cultural, and eco-nomic inequalities (Bernstein 1975, Bourdieu& Passeron 1977, Bowles & Gintis 1976). Theeconomic perspective on reproduction (Bowles& Gintis 1976) attracted criticism for its treat-ment of culture as secondary to economicsand politics. “Cultural reproduction” analyses, when they emerged, often attempted to in-tegrate class analyses with analysis of race orgender formation and to investigate the socialpractices of small groups. An early, influentialand highly controversial argument about classand education focused on the role of language(Bernstein 1960, 1964). It was quickly taken upfor criticism and exploration by sociolinguisticand anthropological researchers in the UnitedStates but with an emphasis on ethnicity andcultureandafocusonsituatedcommunication,especially in classrooms (Cazden et al. 1972). Although the reproductive thesis is simpleto state in academic terms, it has been andcontinues to be quite unpalatable to many of those who work in schools or educational sys-tems more generally (Rothstein 2004). Thisis probably because it presents a direct chal-lenge to meritocratic assumptions and seemstodashegalitarianaspirations.Earlyargumentsand analyses of reproduction were also of theirera, the 1960s and early 1970s, when economicand social stability seemed more secure than ithas in recent decades. They were also formu-latedwithastructuralistintellectualconfidencethat has not survived the intervening decadesof reflexive, postmodern uncertainty (Bauman1997). By the early 1990s, there was a turningawayfromargumentsaboutsocialreproductionand education, whether focused on economic,cultural, or linguistic dimensions. This is puz-zling in some respects because the problem of   34 Collins     A  n  n  u .   R  e  v .   A  n   t   h  r  o  p  o   l .   2   0   0   9 .   3   8 .   D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   f  r  o  m   a  r   j  o  u  r  n  a   l  s .  a  n  n  u  a   l  r  e  v   i  e  w  s .  o  r  g   b  y   S   t  a   t  e   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  y  o   f   N  e  w   Y  o  r   k  -   A   l   b  a  n  y  o  n   0   7   /   0   9   /   0   9 .   F  o  r  p  e  r  s  o  n  a   l  u  s  e  o  n   l  y .   ANRV388-AN38-03 ARI 21 April 2009 17:25 inequality remains a central feature of the con-temporaryworld,withinnationsandonaglobalscale (Henwood 2003; Stiglitz 2002), and thecentrality of straightforward economic factorsin school performance appears little changedover more than 40 years (Coleman 1966, U.S.Dep Educ. 2001). This review surveys studies developing eco-nomic, cultural, and linguistic perspectives onsocial reproduction in classrooms and schools. After examining work using each lens, it thendiscusses why the reproduction framework waslargely abandoned, exploring the conceptualand political dilemmas that seem to have moti- vated the turn to new approaches and assessingthe achievementsand limitations of subsequentefforts. Last, it takes up the question of “Whatnow?,” arguing that the issue of social repro-ductionineducationandsocietyremainshighly relevantbutthatitsstudyrequiresnewconcep-tual tools as well as a reworking of old find-ingsandinsights.Twocentralthesesinformtheoverallargument.Thefirstisthattounderstandsocial reproduction we have to consider multi-ple levels of social and institutional structure as well as microanalytic communicative processesand cultural practices. The second is that socialclassmattersprofoundlybutthatanalystsstrug-gle to understand its protean nature, includingits intricate interplay with other principles of inequality, such as race and gender. ECONOMIC REPRODUCTION   Althusser’s (1971) essay on “Ideological State Apparatuses” was an early and influential argu-ment about education and social reproduction.It conceptualized the school as an agency of class domination, achieving its effects throughideological practices that inculcated knowledgeand dispositions in class-differentiated socialsubjects, preparing them for their dominantor dominated places in the economy andsociety. The foundational work on economicreproduction, however, was Schooling inCapitalist America (Bowles & Gintis 1976).In this account, classroom experience, andschool knowledge more generally, emphasizeddiscrete bits of knowledge and disciplinefor those bound for blue-collar occupations,alongside more synthetic, analytic knowledgeand self-directedness for those destined formiddle-classprofessions.Itprovidedastraight-forward argument in which school curriculaand classroom procedure reflected the organi-zation of class-differentiated adult dispositions,skills, and work experiences and transmittedsimilar dispositions and skills to subsequentgenerations. The argument quickly attractedcriticism, in part because it maintained consid-erable distance conceptually and empirically from actual schools and classrooms (Giroux1983). However, the basic thesis that schoolingas a system rations kinds of knowledge to class-and ethnically-stratified student populationshas been empirically confirmed by a numberof studies (Anyon 1981, 1997; Carnoy & Levin1985; Oakes 1985). Published in translation atabout the same time, Reproduction in Education,Culture and Society (Bourdieu & Passeron 1977)dealt with France. It provided a more nuancedanalysis, both in its framework, which relatedforms of symbolic value (economic, cultural,and social “forms of capital”) to economic andpolitical arenas, and in its attention to formsof pedagogic discourse, which hypothesizedsystemic miscommunication in classrooms(1977, Chapter 2). It also attracted many criticsof its “determinism” (Giroux 1983, Levinson& Holland 1996) because it argued thatclass-based differences in material resources were ultimate causes in the reproduction of cultural and educational inequality. According to critics, a primary deficiency in all the early formulations was their neglectof the problem of agency and change (Giroux1983, MacLeod 1987). Instructive criticismin this regard is provided by Apple (1982). Asdoes Schooling in Capitalist America , this work takes as its starting point that certain sharedprinciplesgoverntheorganizationofschoolingand work. It argues that in essence schoolingis organized to provide individuated, technicalknowledgetoselectstrataofconsumer-workers(largely white, middle class, and compliant). The abstract and schematic treatment of  ã Social Reproduction and Schools 35    A  n  n  u .   R  e  v .   A  n   t   h  r  o  p  o   l .   2   0   0   9 .   3   8 .   D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   f  r  o  m   a  r   j  o  u  r  n  a   l  s .  a  n  n  u  a   l  r  e  v   i  e  w  s .  o  r  g   b  y   S   t  a   t  e   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  y  o   f   N  e  w   Y  o  r   k  -   A   l   b  a  n  y  o  n   0   7   /   0   9   /   0   9 .   F  o  r  p  e  r  s  o  n  a   l  u  s  e  o  n   l  y .   ANRV388-AN38-03 ARI 21 April 2009 17:25 social dynamics and the education process isenriched, however, by Apple’s argument that“cultures and ideologies” are “filled with con-tradiction” and “produced . . . in contestationand struggle.” (pp. 24, 26). In support of thisargument, Apple turns to sociological casestudies and educational ethnographies. Thefirst of these address adults in work situationsand show, for example, male factory workersand female salespeople as they slow down,disrupt, and otherwise exert informal controlover work processes. Such studies documenthow class-situated practices of resistancesubvert the formal procedures and controlmechanisms of the workplace bureaucracy (seealso Scott 1998, pp. 310–11). The ethnographic studies Apple discussesfocus on class conflicts in society and in re-lation to school. One of these, Willis’s Learn-ing to Labor  (1977), is a classic because of its detailed observation of peer group behav-ior and its provocative theorization of culturalagency and reproduction. The study examineshow working-class English lads penetrate theschool’s meritocratic ideology. Through peergroup solidarities analogous to their fathers’shop-floor tactics for controlling the flow of factorywork,theydisruptclassroomprocedure with humor and aggression, ubiquitously call-ing into question the classroom social contract whereby compliance is exchanged for knowl-edge and grades. They celebrate masculine sol-idarity and power through partying, fighting,and “having a laff”; they also oppress girls, de-ride ethnoracial minorities, and fail in school. Another study is McRobbie’s (1978) “WorkingClassGirlsandtheCultureofFemininity.”Itisanethnographicanalysisofbothclassandsexu-ality, theorized as structures of domination thatare lived as partially autonomous cultural for-mations,zonesofpracticeandmeaningwherein working-classgirlsassertfemininityandsexual-ity against the prudish compliance expected of good girls in school. Like their working-classmothers,thesegirlsformbondsofselfandsoli-darity through gender expression, but they alsodisengage from schooling and its prospects of social mobility and enact self-limiting rituals of sexual subordination.In these two studies, rather than reproduc-tive processes that involve congruence acrossmultiplelevelsoforganizationsandactors(e.g.,by parents, teachers, and education bureaucra-cies),weinsteadfindoppositionalpracticesthatnonethelessreproducesocialrelations.Wehavesophisticated accounts of how the winner loses. Adolescent class- and gender-based solidaritiesdraw from parental legacies of class and genderstruggles, and the students building these sol-idarities develop considerable insight into theselective, class-biased nature of school curricu-lum and normative classroom conduct. They disrupt the logic of schooling, but their group-and practice-based insights are limited “pene-trations”(Willis1977,chapters5and6)becausetheir class expressions also reinforce ethnora-cial antagonism, gender oppression, and edu-cational failure.Carnoy & Levin (1985) share Apple’s em-phasis on education as a site of class conflictand social contradiction, and they emphasizethe role of the state. They argue that school-ing serves primarily as an instrument of classdomination but that it is also a site of strugglesfor equality. As does Apple, they also turn toethnographies to understand reproductive pro-cesses, focusing on comparative ethnographicstudies of schools serving upper- and lower-middle-class communities in California. Ana-lyzing teacher beliefs and classroom practicesregarding work-relevant knowledge and dispo-sitions, parental views of schooling, their chil-dren, and their occupational futures, and stateeducation criteria for adequate and nonade-quate performance on core subjects, they find alockstep pattern of teacher and parental beliefs,classroom practices, and state performance cri-teria that “reinforce the differential class struc-ture in preparing the young for future occupa-tional roles” (p. 141).Lareau’s Home Advantage (1989) providesa further perspective on class conditions andschool experiences, focusing especially on fam-ilies. It comparatively analyzes how working  36 Collins     A  n  n  u .   R  e  v .   A  n   t   h  r  o  p  o   l .   2   0   0   9 .   3   8 .   D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   f  r  o  m   a  r   j  o  u  r  n  a   l  s .  a  n  n  u  a   l  r  e  v   i  e  w  s .  o  r  g   b  y   S   t  a   t  e   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  y  o   f   N  e  w   Y  o  r   k  -   A   l   b  a  n  y  o  n   0   7   /   0   9   /   0   9 .   F  o  r  p  e  r  s  o  n  a   l  u  s  e  o  n   l  y .
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