Les héritiers. Les étudiants et la culture

4
Si l ’ école aime à proclamer sa fonction d ’ instrument démocratique de la mobilité sociale, elle a aussi pour fonction de légitimer – et donc, dans une certaine mesure, de perpétuer – les inégalités de chances devant la culture en transmuant par les critères de jugement qu ’ elle emploie, les privilèges socialement conditionnés en mérites ou en « dons » personnels. À partir des statistiques qui mesurent l ’ inégalité des chances d ’ accès à l ’ enseignement supérieur selon l ’ origine sociale et le sexe et en s ’ appuyant sur l ’ étude empirique des attitudes des étudiants et de professeurs ainsi que sur l ’ analyse des règles – souvent non écrites – du jeu universitaire, on peut mettre en évidence, par-delà l ’ influence des inégalités économiques, le rôle de l ’ héritage culturel, capital subtil fait de savoirs, de savoir-faire et de savoir-dire, que les enfants des classes favorisées doivent à leur milieu familial et qui constitue un patrimoine d ’ autant plus rentable que professeurs et étudiants répugnent à le percevoir comme un produit social.
Year of the Publication
Available Languages
Series
Number of Pages
192
Original Title of the Book
Les Héritiers: Les étudiants et la culture
Publication Date
Published January 1st 1984 by Les Editions de Minuit (first published 1964

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Without mechanisms to overcome self-relegation, self-exclusion and active encouragement of those who will wan to struggle to learn due to their real cultural disadvantages, equal access merely displays cultural advantaged dressed in the borrowed gowns of merit and giftedness.What is true of the sexes is at least as true of the ocial classes.

This expectation, of course, ould be utopian enough – the dea that working class kids might be given an equal start with upper class kids through a redistribution of resources toward those with the most need would be enough to preven a revolution in Australia.

It is quite apparent that a purely scholastic culture is not imply a partial culture or part of culture, but an inferior culture, because the very elements of which it is composed do not have the same significance they would ave in a larger whole. ” And crucially, “ Those who reject that veryone ould be given equal access to the highest level of education and the highest culture, once the same economic means were provided for all those who have the requisite ‘ gifts ’, have stopped halfway in their stud of the obstacles; they ignore the fact that the abilities measured by scholastic criteria stem not so much from natural ‘ gifts ’ ( which must remain hypothetical so long as educational inequalities can be traced to other causes), but from the greater or lesser affinity between class cultural habits and the promise of the educational system or the criteria which define success within it. ” Before I move on I ant to add one of my avourite quotes from he ook: “ In 1963, of the eighteen first-prize winners ( of whom fifteen were the children of senior executives or members of the professions and three the sons of shopkeepers), thirteen said they intended to go into teaching or research, thereby expressing their appreciation of a university system that had appreciated them at their true worth.

Blaming working class kids for the difficulties the school system provides them seems a particularly cruel example.Is it possible to fix th situation?

This world, consequently, is ill-divided.Working class kids are least likely to have access to the culture that is prized at school and therefore depend the most on school to provide access to that culture.

But school turns its nose up at the ‘ overly learned ’ way working class kids display this culture – Bourdieu ’ s point is to sa how can it be otherwise?

Some are kids who, by definition, have been excluded from the riches of our culture – and so therefore it is he role of school ( or it ought to be if we lived in anything that could reasonably be called a democracy) to provide this access.Bourdieu makes it clear that this is not erely about providing extra money to working class schools – a mistake often done here in Australia in our response to Aboriginal disadvantage, chuck enough money at it and that ought to fix it – but that it requires much, much ore than merely a redistribution of resources is never noticed.

In the absence of a rational pedagogy doing everything required to neutralize the effect of the social factors of cultural inequity, methodically and continuously, from kindergarten to university, the political project of giving everyone equal educational opportunity can not overcome the real inequities, even when it deploys every institutional and economic means. ” What would fix the problem?

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© Nicole Waggonner