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Cultural Capital and Educational Attainment

  • Alice Sullivan (a1)
Abstract

According to Bourdieu's theory of cultural reproduction, children from middle-class families are advantaged in gaining educational credentials due to their possession of cultural capital. In order to assess this theory, I have developed a broad operationalisation of the concept of cultural capital, and have surveyed pupils on both their own and their parents' cultural capital. I will conclude that cultural capital is transmitted within the home and does have a significant effect on performance in the GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) examinations. However, a large, direct effect of social class on attainment remains when cultural capital has been controlled for. Therefore, ‘cultural reproduction’ can provide only a partial explanation of social class differences in educational attainment.

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Corresponding author: Nuffield College, Oxford, OX1 1NF, UK
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Sociology
  • ISSN: 0038-0385
  • EISSN: 1469-8684
  • URL: /core/journals/sociology
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