The education system as an environment of reproduction of social inequality (by P. Bourdieu and J.-C. Passeron)

  • O. O. Krivosheeva Institute of sociology of the national academy of sciences of Ukraine
Keywords: stratification, symbolic violence, pedagogical impact, pedagogical communication, the school authority, cultural capital


Educational system is one of the main factors involved in social structure reproduction. A fundamental role of the national education system, as a tool for cultural and symbolic violence, that ensures reproduction of the social structure of industrial society, is analysed in works of Pierre Bourdieu and Jean­Claude Passeron. Reproduction of inequality in education is explained by using the theory of four types of capital (economic, cultural, social and symbolic) and the dominant role of language practices of dominant groups in schools. Scientists strive with the concept of innate abilities. They consistently defend the idea of differential distribution of abilities and other active properties between students, or rather, groups and factions of social classes according to their social origin, type of socialization, gained cultural and in particular, linguistic capital of the family. The authors of «Reproduction...» distinguish different types of inequality reproduction. So they consider inequality, that expressed in unequal preparation of the students for obtaining cultural skills and appropriation of cultural patterns, which school not only take into account in their programs, but, on the contrary, this deepens inequalities between students who come with different learning abilities. The second type is the forwarding of legitimate culture, that also has the characteristics of social inequality, because it reflects the culture of social ruling classes. The third type of reproduction is the reproduction of the school and its status in society: on the one hand to keep the status, the school must constantly prove its effectiveness in training of senior staff; on the other hand ­ its existence depends on public support and ideology; finally, teachers are interested in reproduction and therefore prepare students capable to transfer learned knowledge and skills. The authors suggest that pedagogical communication is built with preservation of social inequality: the most prepared understand more, the least prepared realize that there are things unavailable for them, so they often refuse to continue their education.Pierre Bourdieu and Jean­Claude Passeron tried to answer the question over how education is organized, what problems in society it solves, whose interests it serves and whose interests it expresses. They answer all these questions, creating a theory of education system, the main elements of which are such concepts as symbolic violence, pedagogical authority, teaching communication, educational system, school authority. For Bourdieu and Passron education by definition is symbolic violence, that each community, each class implements for its members, for own reproduction and control. In fact, the concept of cultural capital explains not only the existing inequality, but broadcasting such inequality for future generations.

Author Biography

O. O. Krivosheeva, Institute of sociology of the national academy of sciences of Ukraine


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How to Cite
Krivosheeva, O. (2016). The education system as an environment of reproduction of social inequality (by P. Bourdieu and J.-C. Passeron). Grani, 19(7), 81-89.