The work of Pierre Bourdieu has been influential in the theorising of differences in educational achievement related to social class. Bourdieu identifies three major ‘forms of capital’ that can help to explain these differences: economic capital, cultural capital and social capital. He argues that different social groups do not have the same access to forms of capital and that access to particular forms of capital contributes to the reproduction of class advantage. These do not operate in isolation from one another, for instance ‘social capital’ (access to social networks) may be utilised in conjunction with ‘economic capital’ to access independent educational assessment of a child’s Special Educational Needs. For a brief discussion of the forms of capital and the particular concept of ‘emotional capital’ in relation to working class mothers’ involvement in their children’s education see Gillies (2006) referenced below.
See also separate glossary entry on ‘cultural capital’.
Bourdieu, P. (2002) The forms of capital. In A. Halsey, H. Lauder, P. Brown, and A. Wells (Eds.) Education, Culture, Economy and Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Gillies, V. (2006) Working class mothers and school life: exploring the role of emotional capital. Gender and Education, 18, 3, pp281 – 293.
Gillies, V. (2005) Raising the ‘Meritocracy’: Parenting and the Individualization of Social Class. Sociology, 39, 5, pp. 835 – 853