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Chapter 10

SOC260 Chapter Notes - Chapter 10: Social Inequality, Adult Education, Occupational Segregation

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stephen speake

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Chapter 10: CAGE(S) and Education
Mandatory testing of grades 3, 6 and 9 by the EQAO
Done in grades 3, 6, and 9
By Educational Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO)
Meant to hold school boards accountable for the quality of education they’re giving
These are still controversial
o EQAO and school-board officials say they shouldn't be used to rank schools, but it still
o 40% of the variation in school test scores is due to socioeconomic factors.
o Some say that it’s demoralizing to just use one score to rate a school, but parents who
have the economic means to still consider the scores when choosing a school.
This only serves to increase socioeconomic inequalities b/tween schools
Education and SES
Education is often seen as an opportunity for talented and motivated people to move up the
social ladder
o But the education system/schools are also where social inequalities are reproduced and
where the privileged can maintain their advantages
Higher education does often lead to better jobs with higher levels of autonomy and authority,
but the ability to get that higher education depends largely on many things.
Things that effect the ability to attain higher education:
o Class
o Gender
o Age
o Race/ethnicity
o Historical period
The % of people who attain higher level education is increasing
In the past, many people didn’t even get HS diplomas, but now, due to societal
demands for an educated workforce, you pretty much have to have a high school
diploma to get a decent job
Challenges of getting a post-secondary education
o Newfoundland & Labrador: least number of adults w/ a university degree & the most
people with less than a high school diploma
Migration & mobility
o Alberta: largest net inflow of post-secondary graduates from other provinces
Provincial education policies
Streaming of high school students into different educational pathways can disadvantage/close
off career options for students whose parents have lower levels of education
o students whose parents have one or two post-secondary degrees are more likely to have
their post-secondary options open in grade 10

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Pierre Bourdieu
seeks to explain the inequalities of education systems
parents w/ more educational resources have richer reserves of cultural capital
o cultural capital: derived mostly from education; reflects middle-upper-class values,
attitudes, and beliefs about social life; institutionalized (widely shared), high status
cultural signals that are used for social and cultural exclusion.
o Produces benefits for some people while excluding others
Working class families don’t expose their families to these beliefs as much as middle-class
Therefore, working class children aren’t as prepared or familiar with the knowledge that
classrooms often take for granted
Dimaggio: middle-class students’ cultural resources give them an advantage in the classroom
that working class children often don’t have
Social capital
Concerns the info and social connections that are available to people
Networks, norms, social trust
Facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefit
E.g. possessing knowledge about how the education system works (like this cultural capital) can
help a person navigate their way through the system in a way that’s unfamiliar to people who
don’t have this knowledge
Early education in Canada
Aims of education:
o Creating an agreeable and obedient workforce and a contented working class
Taught people to accept their lot/place in life and embrace social inequality
Children weren’t encouraged to work their way up (past their social roots). In fact, they were
discouraged from doing so, instead being taught to be content with where they are now and
what they have.
Prescribed lots in life
Racist, sexist, and class-based
Aboriginal men and women were taught different skills from each other to reproduce European
gendered social patterns (teaching gender inequality)
o Only men were taught to farm
o Women were taught how to perform ‘domestic duties’
o Basically just to create a subordinate working class to benefit the privileged colonizers
Residential schools for Aboriginals
o Extreme example of how racist ideologies can control the educational system
o Isolated children from their families
o Taught children to be ashamed of their cultural heritage
o Destroy the Aboriginal culture to turn the children into assimilated participants in the
industrial economy

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Class: History and Present-Day Patterns
Class has an impact on our education and life trajectory (career, etc.).
The education we get is largely influenced on what kind of education our parents got and the
kind of work that they did/do
o Universally true
Streaming often happens before children even enter a school
o e.g. a lot of the time if both parents are doctors there’s a high chance they will push the
child to become a doctor as well/push them towards that path
o parents w/ money can choose to send their children to private or public schools
o whether parents challenge children or not
o streaming is affected by class!!!
Children from lower/middle-class backgrounds = more likely to end up in special
education or remedial programs (elementary) and basic streams or vocational
schools at secondary schools.
Special/remedial education: more likely to be permanent & led to
basic/vocational later on
Mostly working class or ethnic/racial-minorities
Not the best job prospects
Not eligible for university or college
Many not eligible for trade apprenticeships either
White, higher-class SES children tend to have advantages in school
Lower SES students often streamed in grades 7 or 8
**social class = usually the strongest predictor of academic inequality
lower SES children
o more likely to face academic setbacks
o more likely to drop out of high school
o less likely to attend prestigious post-secondary schools
o even today, only a minority of high-achieving students from SES backgrounds apply to
college or university
higher status/income children
o significantly less likely to receive remedial education
o much more likely to be enrolled in gifted educational programs
o ranked much higher in academic-ability tests by teachers
2-3 times as likely to be ranked among the best in their class in reading, writing,
and math
SES/Achievement gap
the gap/inequality is pretty stable from age 7-11 years
gap increases from age 11-15
o related to both in-school and out-of-school contexts
e.g. family environments & socialization
shows that capable working-class students are limited from achieving higher education
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