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Thread: Social background vs School Performances?

  1. #1 Social background vs School Performances? 
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    Hi, I'm currently doing a comprehensive article about the possibility / statistical fact that youths from what we may define as society's lower class, don't perform as good as those coming from well-off families, with high educated parents.

    To give my artice the depth and weight I want it to have, I want to dive into the science of society and human behavior.

    I have been reading some sociology books from the library, but I am wondering if any could help me with this:

    Having my assignment in mind (as stated in bold text above), could any of you think of some established sociological theories concerning this kind of questions?

    I'm thinking of getting a grip of some of the sociological 'thinkers' (for example; Weber, Durkheim etc.), but I dont have the time to look through all of them and/or their theories.

    If any could give me a kick start it would be so great You dont have to describe the theories, I can the research myself if I just get some headliners

    Greetings from Norway!


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  3. #2  
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    I'm afraid I don't have any real knowledge of exisitng sociology theories and such, but I do have the experience of being a teacher.

    My opinion in short:
    It doesnt matter what 'class' you come from or what financial wealth your family has. However, what does matter is the respect parents give to education and how much the recognise its worth. In my experience the pupils that succeed in school are the ones that get support and encouragement from their parents, regardless of their financial situation.

    I have taught pupils who's families could be considered 'poor', yet the pupils have shined in school due to the help, supoort and encouragement they recieve from home. Likewise I have taught kids from 'rich' families who make nothing of the opportunites they have because they are not encouraged to do so, or who know that their parents will pay for them to have a comfortable life regardless of accademic success.

    my brief 2c.


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  4. #3  
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    Well, it has always been the accepted rule that in my community, the poorer (predominantly black) students perform poorly while the more well-off (predominantly white) students perform better. The reason for this trend is most likely rooted in the domestic situation and parental attitude toward education. As expected, many of these poorer students come from families with little educational background and, of course, equal respect for the educational system. With no parental support, many of these poorer students will go through school with little care or understanding, just as the generations before them.

    To see a true glimpse of how poverty effects students, however, one must take a look at my local school, which has consistently held the record for some of the lowest test scores and highest instances of drug abuse in the state of North Carolina. With nearly 100% of this establishment's students coming from our impoverished black majority, it goes to show the dramatic impact parents can have upon their children by sending them to such a poor learning environment.

    It is sickening to think that parents could easily avoid these problems by caring enough to provide a bit of support and drive their kids a measly 10 miles in order to ensure that they can learn in a proper environment (as I have done for years). However, these indifferent parents will inevitably yield indifferent children and will forever lock their families in a cycle of poverty and ignorance.
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  5. #4  
    Forum Professor Pendragon's Avatar
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    I'm almost done with a minor in Sociology, so I may be of some help.

    Most sociologers would say that sociological theory consists of 3 main questions: the question of cohesion, the question of inequality and the question of rationalization. That last one is somewhat underdevelopped and probably not very useful for you.

    The question of inequality is most applicable to your topic. A good way to start is by searching for literature on social mobility and social stratification: which criteria are used in a society to order people from 'upperclass' to 'lowerclass', how do these classes keep their position and to what extent can people move between classes (either intergenerational or intra-generational). There's a lot of literature on how the class of a parent influences the chances in life of their children, and which class that child will eventually end up in. Many of the explanations focus directly on the education system. Either directly (rich parents send children to good, expensive schools, so their children end up well educated and rich themselves); or indirectly (schools and universities as 'marriage markets'; upperclass people meet other upperclass people at university; lowerclass people meet eachother at work or at vocational education, etc).
    A specific topic that may be interesting for you are so called compensating strategies. In welfare states the options for upperclass people to maintain their status and transfer it to their children are reduced, poorer people can also end up in university. Some sociologers identify compensating strategies to close the upperclass in different ways: for example by developping elaborate cultural rituals and symbols which easily identify upperclass from lower class people, when a university diploma doesn't do the trick as well anymore.
    In terms of cohesion you could look at the ways in which social norms cause some children to perform badly at school and others to perform very well. For example some kids may join a subculture that discourages good performance, or their parents may raise them in such a subculture. Durkheim was one of the first to ask such questions and since then they have been further refined.

    Good luck, please drop us a link when your project is completed :wink:

    Btw this topic is somewhat related, maybe some info in that topic could contribute to the discussion here.
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  6. #5  
    Forum Ph.D.
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    in norway, there are several people who became millionaires, with nothing but basic high school education,

    notably Kjell-Inge R√łkke.
    when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth
    A.C Doyle
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