According to the Marxist sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, middle class parents possess more cultural capital, than working class children.
Bourdieu argues that the skills and knowledge middle class parents possess, such as themselves having benefited from education, and the fact that they are more comfortable dealing with middle class institutions such as schools, is passed down to their children, which explains why they do better in school.
Hooks in the item:
Skills – might be research skills
Knowledge (might be linked to tastes)
More comfortable dealing with middle class institutions
Point 1 – More cultural capital means middle class parents are better educated than working class parents and they are more able to help children with homework and coursework.
Analysis 1 – This is especially likely to advantage children from high income earning families which can afford to have stay at home mums, so they have the time to advantage their children
Analysis 2 – This advantages middle class children early on in their school careers by boosting confidence. This early advantage accumulates over time and develops through school.
Analysis 3 – This takes place at home, not in school. It is unlikely that schools will have the resources available to close this gap
Point 2 – Cultural Capital also means middle class parents are skilled choosers – They are more able to research schools, take time filling in application forms, and networking with teachers to give their child more chance of getting into the best schools – Stephen Ball found this.
Analysis 1– The opposite of this is working class parents who are disconnected choosers, they don’t have the skills to complete large amounts of applications and so just send their children to the local school.
Analysis 2 – This aspect of cultural capital has become more significant since the introduction of the 1988 education act which introduced marketization and parentocracy and gave parents’ choice over schools.
Analysis 3 – This means that the system has changed recently to allow those with more cultural capital to have even more of an advantage.
A suggested model answer to this 10 mark analyse question, a possible question for the AQA’s education with theory and method’s A level paper (paper 7192/1)
What you need to apply the hooks to
Globalisation, or the increasing interconnectedness of countries across the globe, creates both challenges and opportunities for the United Kingdom. For example, economic globalisation has resulted in both more opportunities abroad and more competition for jobs for these jobs; and increasing migration has resulted in greater multiculturalism in the UK.
Education has had to adapt to globalization, and as a result, pupils today experience education very differently to previous generations.
Point 1 – Economic globalisation means increased competition from abroad, which means British students today are expected to spend longer in education (as evidence by the increasing of the school leaving age. So one change in the experience of education is that students stay in school for longer.
Development – globalisation has meant that most of the unskilled factory jobs have now moved abroad, and increasingly British workers need to be better educated in order to get jobs at all, thus the expansion of higher education means that more students ‘experience’ higher education and are better qualified than their parents.
Further development – however, ironically, poorer UK students are put off by the fees universities now charge, meaning that the globalisation of HE is possibly resulting in more class inequality.
Further development – increased competition also means more pressure to succeed, schools are now ranked by PISA league tables, which means even more ‘teaching the test’ and ‘narrowing of the curriculum’, which is a final way the experience of education has changed.
Point 2 – The item also refers to the pressures of increased immigration resulting in more multiculturalism – and British schools have long had multicultural education in response to this, which also changes pupils’ experiences of education.
Development 1 – For example, religious education has long taught about other religions, and increasingly schools and colleges have events such as ‘black history month’ raising awareness of diversity.
Further Development – schools have also introduced compensatory education to help recent immigrants from Eastern Europe, such as extra support for pupils who don’t have English as a first language.
Further development – however, some policies may be seen as potentially divisive, for example, the prevent agenda in schools seems to target Muslim pupils through ‘categorical suspicion’.
Further development – There is also doubt that these inclusive policies are working, many people, especially in working class areas, object to the extra resources being spent on minority groups, and given the fact that it is the white working classes who have the lowest achievement, they might have a point.
Four and Six mark outline questions appear on the education and crime and deviance AQA A level sociology exam papers. This blog post shows you some possible examples of outline questions which might appear on the Education exam paper, along with some suggested answers.
NB These questions are marked in a ‘1+1’ style – you get one mark for identifying and one mark for developing and explaining further. So to be on the safe side, make a point and then develop it – do this twice for a 4 mark question, and thrice for a three mark question.
Outline two ways in which material deprivation may affect educational achievement (4 marks)
Suggested points, you need to add in the explanations as to HOW these factors have a negative effect on educational achievement.
Smaller, overcrowded houses
Poor diets and higher levels of sickness
Less/no educational books/toys, PC’s
Parents can’t afford to support children in education after 16
Less access to nursery facilities
W/C more likely to have part time jobs.
Schools themselves, less resources etc than schools in M/C areas
Selection by mortgage
Can’t afford private tutors
Suggested full answers (outlining and explaining two ways)
(ID) Low income means families will live in smaller houses which could mean there is lack of a private study space, or children may even have to share bedrooms. (EX) This means there is no quiet space for children to do homework, which could result in them falling behind at school.
(ID) Children from low income households are more likely to have poor diets, the low nutritional content of which could result in higher levels of sickness. (EX) This could result in them having time off school, which could have a detrimental effect on their education.
Outline two ways in which cultural deprivation may affect educational achievement (4 marks)
Suggested full answers (outlining and explaining two ways)
(ID) Working class pupils are more likely to have immediate Gratification (wanting to work straight after school to earn money immediately) (EX) this explains working class underachievement because working class kids are more likely to be poor thus more likely to want to earn money immediately after finishing their GCSEs, which means they are less likely to stay onto further education
(ID) The working classes are more likely to be fatalistic, which is where one resigns oneself to the fact that they can’t improve their lot in life. (EX) This explains working class underachievement because they think they are inevitably going to go into working class jobs so don’t try hard at school as there is no point.
Outline three reasons why girls are now generally out-performing boys in education (6 marks)
Suggested full answers (outlining and explaining three ways)
(ID) Introduction of coursework: (EX) has enabled girls to do better as they are more organised, meticulous, persistent, etc than boys and this is rewarded in coursework.
(ID) Changes in the family such as more divorce (EX) has given girls a greater incentive to gain useful qualifications, as they cannot now expect to be full-time housewives permanently provided for by their husbands.
(ID) Changes in the labour market such greater numbers of women working and opportunities for promotion (EX) have given girls more role models and the inspiration to achieve qualifications with which to pursue a career.
Outline three reasons why girls are less likely to choose science subjects than boys (6 marks)
Suggested points, you need to add in the explanations in most cases.
Teacher’s sexist ideas channelling girls into ‘girls subjects’
Science taught in a male way using male examples (engines), put girls off
Biological differences. Girls better at communication, not much discussion in science subjects
Differential parental encouragement
Boys more likely to play with technical toys
Fewer girls in text books
Fewer female science teachers
Boys dominate classroom by dominating practical equipment
Suggested full answers (outlining and explaining three ways)
(ID) Teachers may have stereotypical ideas that girls would struggle in male dominated subjects such as physics, (EX) and they may try and put them off, steering them towards other, more traditionally feminine subjects such as English, meaning fewer girls end up doing science subjects.
(ID) Science subjects are often taught using masculine examples – for example, physics text books might use cars to illustrate the laws of motion. (EX) This might put girls off doing physics because they have no interest in the masculine examples used to teach these subjects.
(ID) Girls are more likely to be socialised into discussing their feelings, (EX) and thus they might be more likely to choose subjects such as history and English where you need to discuss things more, rather than sciences where there is less discussion and ‘one right answer’.
War – organized, armed, and often a ‘prolonged conflict’ that is carried on between states, nations, or other parties. It is intentional and widespread armed conflict between political communities
Civil War – a war where the forces in conflict belong to the same nation or political entity and are vying for control of or independence from that nation or political entity
Terrorism – “The use or threat of action designed to influence the government or an international governmental organisation or to intimidate the public, or a section of the public; made for the purposes of advancing a political, religious, racial or ideological cause
Old Wars – e.g. WII – based around an alliance of Nation States involving the whole might of the nation in producing heavy scale military machinery (tanks/ fighter jets) and hundreds of thousands of troops.
New Wars – typical conflicts today which tend to be civil wars and are much smaller scale than ‘old wars’ and involve small arms (guns), often fuelled by ethnic differences and funded by ‘shadow economies’
The global shadow economy – refers to the illegal trade in the trafficking or arms, drugs and diamonds.
War, Conflict and Development – Key Case Studies
The Rwandan Genocide (1990s) Where Hutus massacred 800 000 Tutsis – a good example of ethnic tension resulting in mass murder
The Sierra-Leone and Liberian Civil Wars (late 1990s-2000s)– mainly explained through Paul Collier’s theory of the resource curse – very much fueled by the global shadow economy (‘blood diamonds)
The U.S. War on Iraq (2003) demonstrates how the West continue to use war to secure resources, just like in Colonial times according to Dependency Theory.
The Syrian Civil War (2010s) the latest civil war, mainly caused by political oppression, illustrates how civil wars can break out even in relatively developed countries
War, Conflict and Development – Key Theories
Paul Collier – 5 Main causes of civil war: primary product exporters, Diasporas, high male unemployment, ethnic conflict, dispersed populations (mountains/ desserts)
Paul Collier – Bottom Billion Theory – ethnic conflict, corruption, the resource curse – all linked with underdevelopment and conflict – e.g. Liberia/ Democratic Republic of Congo.
Noam Chomsky – The United States is the ‘world’s biggest terrorist’, based on its mostly illegal interventions in 50 countries since WWII – e.g. practically every Latin and South American country.
Naomi Klein – The Shock Doctrine – The United States uses war and its aftermath to advance neoliberal policies when people are in shock – e.g. Chile (1973) and Iraq (2003)
David Harvey – The war on Iraq was all about securing oil for the benefit of American consumers.
Modernisation Theory – there is less conflict in wealthy countries – people have more to lose, thus tend to sort out differences peacefully.
Dependency Theory – developed nations mainly drive war and conflict in conjunction with arms companies such as BAE systems.
Feminism – most wars are fueled by male aggression: governments, arms companies, and armies are predominantly male institutions.
Direct effects of war – include immediate effects such as higher death rates and the destruction of infrastructure.
Indirect effects of war – include the longer term effects such as displacement of people (refugees), and the destruction of the social fabric, and poverty.
Ending conflict as the primary development goal – conflict costs the global economy $13 trillion a year. It can send every other aspect of development (health/ education etc.) into reverse.
The Global Peace Index – measures the level of peacefulness in over 100 countries using over 20 indicators including number of battle deaths, number of terrorist incidents, arms expenditure and so on.
Definitions and examples of the most important key concepts for the A level sociology 7192 (1) exam, including the definition of labelling, the correspondence principal, meritocracy, privatization, and lots more. All of the concepts below are most relevant to the education module within A-level sociology, but many have wider application.
Initially I include only the ‘most important’ sociology words. More to follow later, as with all tings in life, this is work in progress.
Where schools focus a disproportionate amount of their resources on making sure ‘middling’ students get 5 A*-Cs, rather than helping to boost more able students or getting less able students passes below the 5- A*C threshold.
Where individuals gain their social position in society through their own efforts, rather than that position being based on their ascribed characteristics such as their ‘race’ or their class background.
Where an individual’s position in society is pre-determined by their birth or social characteristics. An example of this is the royal inheritance in the United Kingdom: only a son of Queen Lizzie II can become King when she dies.
Grouping students by ability. Students are put into the same group across all subjects (unlike setting, which is where students might be placed in different ability groups in different subject.
Where choices of subjects become gradually more limited as children progress through school.
Educational policies which provide additional money or resources for students facing cultural or material deprivation. The idea is that the extra money/resources helps overcome disadvantage and boost results.
One type of school for all students. Non-selective schools where all students have an equal opportunity within the same school.
The establishment of comprehensive schools in the 1960s which replaced the selective tripartite system.
The Marxist idea that the norms and values pupils learn in school prepare them for their future exploitation at work.
For example, schools teach pupils to be ‘motivated by external rewards’ – they learn to put up with boring lessons in order to achieve higher grades, thus focussing on the end result of learning rather than the ‘joy of learning’ itself’. This corresponds (relates) to putting up with the dull routine of working life in a factory day to day, while focussing on the pay packet at the end of the month.
Related concepts: ideological state apparatus, Marxism, socialisation, hidden curriculum.
Counter school culture
A group within a school which has norms and values in direct opposition to the mainstream culture of the school. E.G. a group of students who see value in messing around and ‘having a laugh’ or disrupting lessons rather than working hard and studying. Status will be rewarded within the counter school culture on the basis of how deviant they are, how far they go against school rules.
The skills, knowledge and attitudes associated with the dominant culture, possessed by the middle classes, which give middle class parents and children an advantage in life.
Cultural capital is a Marxist concept used to explain why middle-class pupils achieve more than working class pupils do. As part of the dominant culture, middle class pupils have an automatic advantage over working class pupils because they share the culture of the school. Their language is like that of teachers (also middle-class) and their values correspond more closely to those of the school. This ‘cultural capital’ enables middle class families to pass on their superior position to their children and in so doing, reproduce class inequalities.
Related concepts: skilled and disconnected choosers, habitus, social capital.
Where some groups, such as the lower social classes have inferior norms, values, skills and knowledge which hold them back in life.
Cultural deprivation can have a negative effect on the education of working class children: poor language skills can mean the students struggle to understand what they are taught, and the fact that working class parents do not value education means that their children are less likely to stay on at school post-16.
Related concepts: material deprivation, immediate and deferred gratification, restricted and elaborated speech codes.
Cycle of Deprivation
Where one aspect of material disadvantage has a knock on effect and leads to other types of disadvantage, such that poverty is reinforced and carries on, often across generations. For example, being poor, means a poor diet , means more sickness, means more time of work, means more poverty.
Where one delays immediate reward and instead works hard now in order to receive a greater reward in the future.
Self-fulfilling prophecy theory is often criticised as being deterministic, because it assumes that a particular input (labelling) always has the same affect (the subject accepts their label), without taking into account the fact that individuals respond in different ways based on their different subjective views of the situation in which the labelling takes place.
Working class parents who simply send their children to local schools rather than researching different schools and then making their choice. The opposite of ‘skilled choosers’
Division of Labour
Where production is broken down into a number of small, specialized tasks to improve efficiency. For example, instead of one person constructing a whole car, each individual specializes in adding different bits.
Education Action Zones
A New Labour Education policy which promoted links between clusters of schools (typically around 20) in deprived areas and local businesses and parents, with the intention of getting business to provide extra funds to those schools. This policy was introduced in the late 1990s, but after running for five years it had largely failed to generate any additional funds and so was axed.
Where schools sort students into three groups: those who will pass without help, those could pass with help, and those who probably won’t pass even if they do get help. Schools then focus most of their resources on helping the middle of these groups, while leaving the former alone and effectively ‘writing off’ the later.
Elaborated Speech Code
Language consisting of a wide vocabulary, complex sentences and which is context-free, so able to express abstract ideas. Used by the middle class and the opposite of restricted speech code.
Equality of opportunity (within education)
Where everyone has an equal chance to get into the best schools and universities and achieve good qualifications, and everyone competes for the best results on a level playing field, without being discriminated against on the basis of race, gender, disability or social class.
Ethnocentric means seeing or judging things in a biased way. An ethnocentric curriculum is one which treats middle class European white culture as superior – having Christian assemblies or teaching history from a European rather than an Indian or African perspective are examples of this.
The culture of a school – including its expected norms of behaviour, core values and especially the aspirations for its students.
Where pupils are either suspended for a set period or permanently expelled from school, typically for breaking school rules.
Exogenous Privatisation (of education)
Where schools, or school services, are taken over by private businesses such as academy chains, rather than being run directly by the state.
A related concept here is ‘endogenous privatisation’, where schools are made compete like businesses while still being run by the state. This was the idea behind marketization.
Related concepts: neoliberalism, the new right, marketization.
A school with formal ties to a particular faith. Many have different admissions (selection) criteria to regular state schools and select a proportion of their students on the basis of their faith.
According to Bernstein this is an attitude held by working class children and parents. It is the belief that they will inevitably end up in working class jobs, and so prevents them from aspiring to do any better.
Schools set up and run by groups of parents, charities or businesses and run directly by them. They are funded directly by the government and not by Local Education Authorities.
The activities that boys and girls see as typically the territory of their gender. E.g. playing football for boys and playing with dolls for girls.
The increasing interconnectedness of people and societies across the world.
A selective school catering to students who pass their 11+. Offers an academic education catered to high achieving students. Part of the ethos of grammar schools is that students should aspire to go to university.
The Hidden Curriculum refers to the norms and values not taught directly as part of the official curriculum, but passed on informally in schools.
Whereas the official curriculum is made up of subjects, subject content, formal lessons etc. the hidden curriculum is composed of teacher attitudes and expectations, and the general ethos of school which includes such things as attitudes to punctuality, attendance, dress codes and future career aspirations.
Related concepts: Feminists argue that the hidden curriculum works against girls. Marxists believe it works against working-class pupils.
The idea of the perfect pupil which teachers have in their heads. Such pupils are smart, have good manners, obey school rules and work hard. According to Howard Becker they are typically middle class.
Ideological state apparatus
This is main function of education in a capitalist society according to Marxists. Education works to transmit an ideological justification of capitalism, presenting the unequal capitalist system as normal and inevitable.
Schools do this directly by ‘agenda setting’ – not teaching subjects which criticise capitalism such as sociology (at least until much later on in life), and they do it indirectly by mirroring the inequality found in wider society (teacher-pupil relations, banding and streaming), thus getting students used to the idea that inequality is normal.
Related concepts: passive subservience, Marxism, socialisation, hidden curriculum, power, inequality.
Wanting instant reward, right now. The opposite of deferred gratification
Independent (Private) Schools
Schools which are not state-funded and are paid for by parents. They do not have to follow the national curriculum, but most choose to do so.
Discrimination which is built into the everyday workings of institutions such as schools.
‘Labelling’ is where someone judges a person based on the superficial ‘surface’ characteristics such as their apparent social class, sex, and ethnicity.
In the case of education, the main ‘labeller’ is the teacher, the main ‘labelled’ the pupil. Howard Becker has shown that teachers have an ‘ideal type’ of a pupil. The ‘ideal’ pupil is courteous, hard working and academically able. Middle-class pupils are far more likely to fit this model than are working class students, and thus middle class students get a positive label working class students a negative label.
Related concepts: Interactionism, self-fulfilling prophecy, ideal pupil.
*American misspelling: ‘labeling’
Published documents which show the GCSE and A level results of all schools in England and Wales. Schools are effectively ranked against each other and thus are easy to compare.
Legitimation of class inequality
A Marxist term – where schools justify inequality through teaching the myth of meritocracy. Schools teach working class pupils that it is their fault if they fail their exams and end up in working class jobs, rather than the fault of the unequal and unfair system which is biased towards the middle class.
Making schools compete for pupils, like businesses compete for clients or consumers.
This was the basic principle behind the 1988 education act: the government introduced open enrollment (parental choice), formula funding and league tables to introduce endogenous privatisation.
Related concepts: New Right, neoliberalism, privatisation, league tables, 1988 education act.
Where someone cannot afford or lacks access to basic, material resources such as food and heating.
Material deprivation can have a negative effect on educational achievement because students may not have access to computers and the Internet at home and poor diet and housing conditions may lead to health problems which can result in time off school.
Related concepts: social class, cultural deprivation, differential educational achievement.
The idea that what an individual achieves is based on a combination of their ability and effort.
In education this is where the qualifications one achieves is based on a combination of their intelligence and the amount of effort they put in during their time in school.
Marxists argue that meritocracy is a myth because in reality an individual’s educational achievement is more a reflection of their class background, a result of their material and cultural capital, rather than their ability or effort. However, the working classes believe the myth of meritocracy and thus blame their own failure on themselves rather than the unequal opportunities in the system.
Related concepts: achieved status, ascribed status, Marxism, Functionalism, equality of opportunity.
Motivation by external rewards
Being motivated by the end result, not the act itself. In education this means being motivated by exam results rather than the ‘joy of learning’.
Any education that raises awareness of the different cultures, traditions and religions in a society, typically aimed at promoting acceptance of (or at least tolerance of diversity).
Myth of meritocracy
Part of Marxist Theory – the idea that schools are not meritocratic but teach students that they are so as to legitimate inequality (see the legitimation of class inequality).
Set subjects (and the content within those subjects) laid down by the government that all state funded schools must teach.
The government body which inspects schools and publishes reports, grading schools from ‘outstanding’ to ‘in need of improvement’. Has the power the put schools into special measures and change the management and staffing of failing schools.
Literally ‘the rule of the parents’. It is where parents have a choice over which school to send their children to.
Parity of Esteem
Where schools teach different subjects and have a different ethos but have equal status.
The specific standards by which parents judge their children.
Accepting authority and doing what you are told without questioning it.
Norms and values which make patriarchy seem natural. E.g. the idea that women should be the primary child carers because they give birth to children.
A system of male domination, or one in which men have advantage over women.
Moving further apart. In education, marketisation is said to have caused this: the best schools improved and the worst schools got worse.
The changes associated with the move to a postmodern society, including globalization, more consumerism, more individual choice and diversity.
Where schools, or school services, are taken over by private businesses such as academy chains, rather than being run directly by the state.
Where schools are made to compete like businesses while still being run by the state. This was the idea behind marketization.
Reproduction of inequality
Where inequality is carried on from one generation to the next.
Restricted Speech Code
Language consisting of limited vocabulary, simple sentences, and which is context specific. According to Bernstein, this is what the working class speak. It is the opposite of the elaborated speech code.
Where pupils are sifted and sorted into appropriate jobs based on their abilities, reflected in the qualifications they achieve.
Society requires the most able to be in the most important and demanding jobs. Education makes sure this happens- only the most able and hardest working can rise to top and get the three A grades in science required to go on to do a medical degree and become a doctor for example.
Related Concepts: achieved status, Functionalism, division of labour, meritocracy.
This is where someone acts according to their label and the label becomes true in reality.
In education a pupil who is repeatedly told that they are unlikely to achieve may consequently give up their efforts which in turn will reduce the likelihood of gaining a qualification. The teachers’ label has thus become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Related concepts: interactionism, labelling, deterministic.
Subculture and Counter School Culture
A subculture consists of a group of people who share norms and values which are different to mainstream values.
An important type of subculture is the counter-school culture – identified by Paul Willis (1977). A counter school culture has norms and values which are in direct opposition to the mainstream culture of the school. Thus the lads who made up the counter-school culture valued messing around and ‘having a laugh’ and got status for doing so, and did not value working hard to achieve good grades.
Related concepts: pro-school subculture; myth of meritocracy, white working class underachievement; the young entrepreneurs (Mac An Ghail), active-passive, Marxism.
Rwanda makes an interesting case study of a developing nation which appears to have atypically high levels of gender equality. It ranks no 7 in the Gender Empowerment Index, just behind the Nordic countries, and actually has a higher proportion of girls enrolled in education than boys (97% compared to 95%).
Given that East and North African nations typically have the lowest levels of gender equality in the world (take neighbouring DRC as an example, Rwanda not only bucks the regional trend, but it also bucks the general trend of the correlation between higher GDP and greater levels of gender equality. So what’s its secret? I’m not exactly an expert in Rwandan history, but here are five things which might explain the high reported levels of gender equality in Rwanda.
Firstly, the genocide, may have (somewhat perversely) played a role in female empowerment.
In the aftermath of the genocide, Rwanda found itself a country composed of 70 percent women. The violence had been perpetrated by — and largely toward — men. There were simply fewer men due to death, imprisonment, and flight. Killings also targeted civic leaders during the genocide. Out of more than 780 judges nationwide, only 20 survived the violence. Not 20 percent, 20 total.
These skewed demographics resulted in a power vacuum. Prior to 1994, women only held between 10 and 15 percent of seats in Parliament. Out of sheer necessity, and a desire to rebuild their country, women stepped up as leaders in every realm of the nation, including politics.
Or in the words of one Rwandan woman….. “Many women were left as widows because of the genocide. Others had to work hard in the place of their jailed husbands for allegedly taking part in the genocide. So even young girls got that mentality to perform genuinely to access good jobs, and good jobs means going to school first,”
Secondly – (and no doubt related to the above) women’s rights have been rooted in the constitution for over a decade – The constitution stipulates that at least 30% of government positions should be filled by women. Rwanda now tops global league tables for the percentage of female parliamentarians. Fewer than 22% of MPs worldwide are women; in Rwanda, almost 64% are.
Thirdly (and probably a knock-on effect from point two) Rwanda spends huge proportions of its national budget on health and education, according to World Bank statistics. In 2011, almost 24% of total government expenditure went to health and 17% to education. High expenditure on the former has greatly improved maternal health and reduced child mortality, while high expenditure on the later has meant there is sufficient money to fund education for both boys and girls (as a general rule)
Fourthly (and probably a knock on effect from the above three points) – A relatively high proportion of women are employed in public sector jobs – In the education system – women have also outnumbered men as primary school teachers. Higher up the education system, things are not equal, but they are improving rapidly – At secondary school, however, fewer than 28% of teachers are women, up from 21% in 2001. In higher education, only 16% of teachers are women, but this is up from 10% in 1999 and 5% in 1990. In every local police station there is a ‘gender desk’ where incidents of gender related violence can be reported (something which I think is pretty much unheard of in most African countries.)
Fifthly, there is the role of women’s support groups in rebuilding the country after the decimation caused by the genocide. These groups initially just offered a place for women to talk about their experiences of being widowed and raped, but they morphed into workers co-operatives, which has, 20 years later, led on to a very high degree of engagement with women in local politics, which is increasingly integrated with national politics.
Limitations of Rwanda’s Gender Equality….
As with all statistics, they don’t tell the full picture, one of the posts below makes the following cautions – Firstly, 60% of Rwandans live below the poverty line, and while those women how have jobs in politics and education are on decent wages, there aren’t actually that many people in the population employed in these sectors and gender equality means very little to the vast majority of women when they can’t afford to eat. Secondly, DV statistics don’t make for pretty reading, with 2/5 women saying they have experienced domestic violence, with 1/5 saying they have experienced sexual violence – And you can imagine how low the prosecution rate of men is for such crimes.
A few thoughts on the meaning of all this….
Rwanda has experienced excellent economic growth compared to countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, which suggests that Gender Empowerment has a positive effect on development, but obviously this conclusion has to be treated with caution because there are so many other variables which need to be taken into account.
If it is indeed the prevalence of women and the absence of (certain types of?) men from a society which encourages development, there are some pretty challenging implications – Most obviously it raises the question of how we are to reduce (certain types of) male influence in developing countries?
Selecting a sample is the process of finding and choosing the people who are going to be the target of your research.
Most researchers will have a ‘target population’ in mind before conducting research. The target population consists of those people who have the characteristics of the sample you wish to study. If you’re interested in conducting primary research on the experiences of working class school children in 2017 (or whatever year we’re currently in!), then your target population would be all working class school children.
Many researchers use a sampling frame to choose a sample, which is simply a list from which a sample is chosen – this might be a register of all pupils in a school, if you are conducting research in a school, for example.
Positivist researchers want to make sure their research is representative – research is representative if the characteristics of the people in the sample (the people who are actually researched) reflect the characteristics of the target population.
NB – The people who are the targets of social research are also known as the ‘respondents’
Five sampling methods used in sociology
Random sampling – an example of random sampling would be picking names out of a hat. In random sampling everyone in the population has the same chance of getting chosen. This is easy because it is quick and can even be performed by a computer. However, because it is down to chance you could end up with an unrepresentative sample, perhaps with one demographic being missed out.
Systematic sampling – an example of a systematic sample would be picking every 10th person on a list or register. This carries the same risk of being unrepresentative as random sampling as, for example, every 10th person could be a girl.
Stratified sampling – this method attempts to make the sample as representative as possible, avoiding the problems that could be caused by using a completely random sample. To do this the sample frame will be divided into a number of smaller groups, such as social class, age, gender, ethnicity etc. Individuals are then drawn at random from these groups. If you are observing doctors and you had split the sample frame into ethnic groups you would draw 8% of the participants from the Asian group, as you know that 8% of doctors in Britain are Asian.
Quota sampling – In this method researchers will be told to ensure the sample fits with certain quotas, for example they might be told to find 90 participants, with 30 of them being unemployed. The researcher might then find these 30 by going to a job centre. The problem of representativeness is again a problem with the quota sampling method.
Multistage sampling – With multistage sampling, a researcher selects a sample by using combinations of different sampling methods. For example, in Stage 1, a researcher might use systematic sampling, and in Stage 2, he might use random sampling to select a subset for the final sample
Snowball sampling – With this method, researchers might find a few participants, and then ask them to find participants themselves and so on. This is useful when a sample is difficult to obtain. For example Laurie Taylor used this method when investigating criminals. It would be difficult for him to find a sample as he didn’t know many criminals; however these criminals know a lot of people who would be willing to participate, so it is more efficient to use the snowball method.
If the modern problem of identity was how to construct an identity, the postmodern problem of identity is how to avoid fixation and keep the options open. If the catchword of modernity was creation, the catchword of postmodernity is recycling.
The main identity-bound anxiety of modern times was the worry about durability; it is concern with commitment-avoidance today.
The photograph was the medium of modernity, all set in bound books with yellowing pages, the video-tape the medium of postmodernity – today’s recording only exists until something deemed more significant emerges to replace it.
Modernity built in steel and concrete, postmodernity in biodegradable plastic.
Identity as such is a modern invention – it is the name given to the escape sought from uncertainty, from the modern ‘problem’ of freedom of choice which arises with social change, and of not knowing for certain where one fits in to the order of things; the modern ‘quest’ for identity is a response to the inability of people to clearly project who they are to others so that we may all ‘go on’.
Identity is always a process, a critical projection (typically?) into the future – it is an assertive attempt to escape from the experience of under-determination, or free-floatingness , of disembeddnsess, which is the ‘natural’ condition of modernity.
Identity in modernity is presented as an individual task, but there are experts to guide us as to what identities are possible to achieve – experts such as teachers and counsellors, who are supposed to be more knowledgeable about the task of identity construction.
Modern life as pilgrimage
Modernity gave the pilgrim a new prominence and a novel twist.
For pilgrims through time, the truth is elsewhere, always some distance away. Wherever the pilgrim is now is not where he ought to be, not where he dreams of being. The glory of the future debases the present.
The pilgrim is not interested in the city, the houses tempt him to rest, he is happier on the streets, for they lead him to his destination. However, even these are perceived as a series of traps which may lead him from his path. The pilgrim feels homeless in the city.
The desert is the place for the pilgrim, who seeks a hermetic way of life away from the distractions of city life, away from duties and obligations. The desert, unlike the city, was a land not yet sliced into places, a place of self-creation, which is not possible when one is ‘in place’ in the city, which calls upon the individual to be certain ways (through the commitments of family and polis).
You do not go into the desert to find identity, but to lose it, to become ‘god like’.
The Protestants changed this by becoming ‘inner-worldly pilgrims’ – they invented the way of embarking on pilgrimage without leaving home and of leaving home without becoming homeless. In the post-Reformation city of modernity, the desert started on the other side of the door.
The protestant worked hard to make the dessert come to him – through impersonality, coldness, emptiness – protestants expressed a desire to see the outside world as null, lacking in value, of nothingness waiting to become something.
In such a land, commonly called modern society, pilgrimage is no longer a choice, pilgrimage is no longer heroic or saintly, it is what one does of necessity, to avoid being lost in the desert; to invest in walking with a purpose while wandering the land with no destination.
The desert world of modernity is meaningless, the bringing-in of meaning is ‘identity builiding’ – the pilgrim and the dessert-like world he walks acquire their meaning together. Both processes must go on because there is a distance between the goal (the meaning of the world and the future identity of the pilgrim) and the present moment (the station of the walking and the identity of the wanderer.)
Both meaning and identity can exist only as projects. Dissatisfaction with the present compared to the ideal-future and delaying gratification to realise greater pleasure in that future are fundamental features of the modern-identity building project, as is marking and measuring one’s progress towards one’s goal through time.
Time is generally perceived as something through which one progress, in a linear fashion, and modern pilgrims generally had trust in a clearly identified future state (however fantastical) – and saving for the future was a central strategy of future oriented identity-building.
Pilgrims had a stake in the solidity of the world they walked, a kind of world in which one can tell life as a continuous story – moving towards fulfilment – The world of pilgrims, of identity-builders must be orderly, determined, predictable, but most of all it must be one in which one can make engravings in the sand so that past travels are kept and preserved.
The world inhospitable to pilgrims
The world is not hospitable to pilgrims any more. The pilgrims lost their battle by winning it: by turning the social into a dessert, ultimately a windy place where it is as easy to erase footprints as it is to make them.
It soon transpired that the real problem was not how to make identity, but how to preserve it – in a dessert, it is easy to blaze a trail, but difficult to make it stick.
As Cristopher Lasch points out identity refers to both persons and to things, and we now live in a world of disposable objects, and in such a world identities can be adopted and discarded like a change of clothes.
In the life-game of postmodern consumers the rules of the game keep changing in the course of playing. The sensible strategy is to keep each game short, and ‘live one day at a time’, depicting each day as a series of emergencies.
To keep the game short means to be wary of long term commitments, not to control the future, but to refuse to mortgage it. In short, to cut the present off at both ends, to abolish time and live in a continuous present. Fitness takes over from health – the capacity to move where the action is rather than coming up to a standard and remaining ‘unscathed’; and the snag is to no longer construct an identity, but to stop it from becoming fixed.
The hub of postmodern life strategy is not identity building, but avoidance of fixation.
There are no hooks on which we can hang our identity – jobs for life have gone, and we live in the era of personal relationships. Values become cherished for maximal impact, and this means short and sharp, because attention has become a scarce commodity.
The overall result is the fragmentation of time into episodes. In this world, saving and delaying gratification make no sense, getting pleasure now is rational.
In this world, the stroller, the tourist, the vagabond and the player become the key identities, all of these have their origins before postmodernity, but each comes to be practiced by the mainstream rather than being marginal in postmodernity.
In the postmodern chorus they all sing, sometimes in harmony, but more often with cacophony the result.
In modernity this is Walter Benjamin’s flaneur – strolling among crowds of strangers in a city, and being in the crowd, but not of the crowd, taking in those strangers as ‘surfaces’ so that what one sees exhausts what they are, and above all seeing and knowing them episodically – each episode having no past and no consequence. The distinction between appearance and reality matter not. The stroller had all the pleasures of modern life, without all the torments.
In the postmodern world, the stroller is the playful consumer, who doesn’t need to deal with ‘reality’. Shopping malls are the domain of the stroller – while you can shop while you stroll. Here people believe they are making decisions, but in fact they are being manipulated by the mall-designers. Malls are also safe-spaces, where undesirables are screened out.
Originally malls were merely physical, now all of this is intensified in teleshopping, in the private domain.
The vagabond was the bane of early modernity, being master-less, out of control. Modernity could not bear the vagabond because he had no set destination, each place he stops, he knows not how long he will stay. It is easy to control the pilgrim because of his self-determination, but not the vagabond.
Wherever the vagabond goes he is a stranger, he can never be native, he is always out of place.
In modernity the settled were many, the vagabonds few, postmodernity reverses the ratio as now there are few ‘settled places’ left – jobs, skills, relationships, all offer no chance of being rooted.
Like the vagabond, the tourist is always on the move and always in the place but never of it, but there are seminal differences.
Firstly, the tourist moves on purpose, to seek new experiences. They want to immerse themselves in the strange and the bizarre, but they do so in a safe way, in a package-deal sort of way. The tourists world is structured by aesthetic criteria. Unlike the vagabond, who has a rougher ride.
Secondly, the tourist has a home, the vagabond does not. The problem, however, for the tourist, is that as the touristic mode of life becomes dominant, it becomes less and less clear where home actually is, and homesickness sets in – home lingers both as an uncanny mix of shelter and prison.
In play there is neither inevitability nor accident, nothing is fully predictable or controllable, and yet nothing is totally immutable or irrevocable either.
In play there is nothing but a series of moves, and time in the world-as-play is divided into a succession of games, each self-enclosed. For the player, each game must have an end, it must be possible to leave it with no consequences once it has been completed, leave no mental scars.
The point of the game is to win, and this leaves no room for compassion, commiseration .or cooperation.
The mark of a postmodern adult is to embrace the game wholeheartedly, like children do.
One reason is that poorer countries tend to export low-value primary products such as agricultural goods, while richer countries export higher value goods.
Frank (1971) argues this is a legacy of colonialism during which rich countries made their colonies specialize in exporting one primary product such as sugar or cotton back to the ‘mother land’. After independence, developing societies were over-dependent on exporting these primary commodities, which typically have a very low market-value.
Examples include The Ivory Coast in West Africa – 33% dependent on cocoa beans; Kenya (in East Africa) which is about 30% dependent on two primary products – tea and cut flowers.
This type of trade does not necessarily promote development because the declining value of such commodities means developing nations need to export more and more every year just to stay in the same place. This has been described as ‘running up the downward escalator’.
A second reason why trade doesn’t work for development is that the global capitalist system depends on inequality
Emanuel Wallerstein argued that the world capitalist system is characterised by an international division of labour consisting of a structured set of relations between three types of capitalist zone:
The core, or developed countries control world trade and exploit the rest of the world.
The semi-peripheral zone includes countries like China or Brazil – which manufacture produces
The peripheral countries at the bottom, mainly in Africa, which provide the raw materials such as cash crops to the core and semi periphery.
Companies in the core countries need to keep prices of end-products as low as possible in order keep up demand, so they pay as little as possible for the raw materials and manufacturing. In short, the development of the west in terms of cheap, consumer goods depends on the poverty of the periphery and relative poverty of semi-periphery.
However, this may not always prevent trade working for development – countries can be upwardly or downwardly mobile in the world system. Many countries, such as the BRIC nations have moved up from being peripheral countries to semi-peripheral countries, and some (e.g. South Korea) can now be regarded as core countries.
Thirdly, a lack of regulation at both global and national levels means that workers have few protections in developing countries and thus don’t benefit from trade.
Many workers are exploited with low wages in sweat shops, which means workers don’t earn enough money to pay for social development such as education or health; Bangladesh is a good example of a country in which poor health and safety regulations result in high deaths.
Other Corporations such as Shell extracting oil in Nigeria burn gas flares and have leaky oil pipes which destroys the environment and leads to women miscarrying, which actually pushes the development of some areas backwards.
Dependency Theory argues that Nation States compete in a ‘race to the bottom’ to attract Transnational Corporations (and extract materials/ produce goods to trade) through having the least regulations.
Modernisation Theory blames internal cultural factors for women’s subordination in the developing world. It is argued that some traditional cultures, and especially the religious ideas that underpin the values, norms, institutions and customs of the developing world, ascribe status on the basis of gender. In practise, this means that males are accorded patriarchal control and dominance over a range of female activities and, consequently, women have little status in developing societies.
Modernisation theorists note that gender equality is generally greater in more developed countries and believe that there is relationship between modernisation, economic growth and greater gender equality. The World Bank appears to be a strong proponent of this view today.
Extract from a recent World Bank report on Globalisation, Economic Growth and Gender Equality
Trade openness and the spread of information and communication technologies (ICTs) have increased women’s access to economic opportunities and in some cases increased their wages relative to men’s. Growth in exports, together with a decline in the importance of physical strength and a rise in the importance of cognitive skills, has increased the demand for female labour. ICT has also increased access to markets among female farmers and entrepreneurs by easing time and mobility constraints.
Women have moved out of agriculture and into manufacturing and particularly services. These changes have taken place across all countries, but female (and male) employment in the manufacturing and services has grown faster in developing than developed countries, reflecting broader changes in the global distribution of production and labour. In Mexico, for example, female employment in manufacturing grew from 12 percent in 1960 to 17 percent in 2008, with 10 times more women in 2008 than in 1960.
International peer pressure has also led more countries than ever to ratify treaties against discrimination, while growing media exposure and consumers’ demands for better treatment of workers has pushed multinationals toward fairer wages and better working conditions for women.
Increased access to information, primarily through wider exposure to television and the Internet, allows countries to learn about life and social mores in other places—knowledge that can change perceptions and ultimately promote adoption of more egalitarian attitudes. Increased economic empowerment for women can reinforce this process by promoting changes in gender roles and allowing newly empowered women to influence time allocation, shift relative power within the household, and exercise agency more broadly.
Countries with a comparative advantage in the production of female labour-intensive goods have lower fertility rates and, to a lesser extent, higher female labour force participation and educational attainment. For instance, moving from low female-intensity in exports (bottom quarter of the distribution) to high intensity (top quarter) lowers fertility by as much as 0.21 births per woman, or about 10 percent of the global total fertility rate.
Globalisation could also influence existing gender roles and norms, ultimately promoting more egalitarian views: women turned income earners may be able to leverage their new position to change gender roles in their households by influencing the allocation of time and resources among house- hold members, shifting relative power within the households, and more broadly exercising stronger agency. In fact, women appear to gain more control over their income by working in export-oriented activities, although the impact on well-being and agency is more positive for women working in manufacturing and away from their male relatives than for those work- ing in agriculture. Women in factories feel their status has improved.
Women in work also marry and have their first baby later than other women of similar socioeconomic status and to have better quality housing and access to modern infrastructure. They also report greater self-esteem and decision-making capacity, with benefits extending to other family members.
Beyond the economic sphere, increased access to information, primarily through higher exposure to television and the Internet, has also ex- posed many in developing countries to the roles women play in other parts of the world, which may affect gender roles and outcomes (chapter 4). For instance, in Brazil, a country where soap opera watching is ubiquitous and cuts across social classes, the presence of the Globo signal (a television channel that offers many popular Brazilian soap operas) has led to lower fertility, measured as the number of live births for women ages 15–49.
Similarly, evidence from rural India suggests that gender attitudes among villagers changed with cable television. Women with access to cable were less likely than others to express a son preference or to report that it is acceptable for a husband to beat his wife.
Interestingly, and somewhat contrary to standard notions about gender roles and women’s agency in the household, the evidence discussed here suggests that under some circumstances exposure to information can induce large and fast change. In Bangladesh, the employment of hundreds of thousands of women in the ready-made garment industry feminized the urban public space, creating more gender-equitable norms for women’s public mobility and access to public institutions. In the process, Bangladeshi women had to redefine and negotiate the terms of purdah, typically reinterpreting it as a state of mind in contrast to its customary expression as physical absence from the public space, modest clothing, and quiet demeanour.