Social class as social closure
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Social class as social closure book
This chapter begins by explaining, then elaborating and then deploying, a set of concepts, alluded to previously, drawn from the work of Parkin (1979). Later the discussion is extended to incorporate Bourdieu’s work on ‘discrimination’ and ‘social structure in the head’ and use is also made of Bernstein’s work on social class and pedagogies. This chapter is a companion piece to Chapter 3 in that it takes up again the issue of social closure. In this case the emphasis is not upon the deliberative control of the rules of the game that provide the framework for policies of choice in education, but rather on the use of these rules to achieve and maintain social closure in practice. That is to say, the focus here is upon those ‘definite social exertions’ (Parkin 1979: 63) that middle-class families must make on their own part ‘or face the very real prospect of generational decline’ (Parkin 1979: 63). Taking up the framework outlined in Chapter 2, I am suggesting that now more than previously middle-class families ‘must approach the task [of achieving closure] more in the manner of a challenge than as a foregone conclusion’ (Parkin 1979: 63). In effect status and advantage can ‘only be preserved as a result of the adaptation by the bourgeois family to the demands of institutions designed to serve a different purpose, it does not come about as a natural consequence of closure rules themselves’ (Parkin 1979: 62). In effect families must work on, in and with public and private institutions to achieve their particular ends and interests. This is not an issue that Parkin himself attends to in any detail, even in his discussion of education and credentialism, but he provides a vocabulary from which to start. In some respects there is a parallel
here with the point made elsewhere (Chapter 1) with regard to Bourdieu’s work on capitals, that is the need to attend to the ‘activation’ as well as the possession of these capitals. Here we need to attend to the exertions of families with respect to the rules of closure that are in play. Put another way, while Chapter 3 focused upon the collective mobilization of power, within the state and in public institutions, in the ‘distributive struggle’ (Parkin 1979: 46) over educational advantage, this chapter focuses upon individual exclusionary strategies. By this I mean the efforts of individual families to monopolize particular educational sites and establish and maintain social cleavages based upon these monopolies. As Allatt (1993: 156) notes: ‘while there is a rich literature on the transfer of privilege, there is little on the intricacies and details of the mechanisms through which this is achieved’.