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Relationship Between Levels of Education and Social Inequality Through an Analysis of Household-level Data -Term Paper

Relationship Between Levels of Education and Social Inequality Through an Analysis of Household-level Data -Term Paper

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Published by: Rashed Al Ahmad Tarique on Jun 19, 2011
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06/19/2011

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Foreword
Social inequality is one of Bangladeshs core socioeconomic problems. From the mid-1980s to early1990s the situation of the lower class worsened, especially in rural areas. In recent years, differentmeasures indicate some improvement partly due to acceleration in economic growth. However, thepositive impact of economic growth on reducing social and economic disparity has remained limited dueto increased inequality in the access to secondary education and agricultural land.Recent statistics indicates that while the access to primary education has improved, the access tosecondary education of male children has deteriorated especially among the landless households. InBangladesh, non- farm activities generate higher income than farm activities, and the level of educationdetermines the ability of households to engage in such activities. Unequal access to education has,therefore, serious implications - it perpetuates income inequality, and limits the impact of economicgrowth on social equity.The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between levels of education and socialinequality through an analysis of household-level data. The relationship between education andinequality is a circular one: the lack of secondary-level education may force low-income households toengage in low-productivity activities, and results in social reproduction of the lower class. On the otherhand, low income leads to low investment in education. The
substantial inequalities in educationalattainment, and its role in social reproduction of our society.
 
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Sociologists have attempted to account for social inequalities in education in a number of differentways. They can all be seen as concerned with social reproduction, in and through education, but inrather different ways. Ivan Illich stresses the effects of informal processes at work through what he callsthe hidden curriculum; Basil Bernstein emphasizes the significance of language; Pierre Bourdieuexamines the relationship between the cultures of school and home.
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Illich (1973) argued that the very notion of compulsory schooling, now accepted throughout the word,should be questioned. He stressed the connection between the development of education and therequirements of the economy for discipline and hierarchy. He argued have developed to cope with fourbasic tasks: the provision of custodial care, the distribution of people among occupational roles, thelearning of dominant values, and the acquisition of socially approved skills and knowledge.Much is learnt in school which has nothing to do with the formal content of lessons. Schools tend toinculcate what Illich called passive consumption- an uncritical acceptance of the existing social order-by the nature of the discipline and regimentation they involve. These lessons are not consciously taught;they are implicit in school procedures and organization. The hidden curriculum teaches children thattheir role in life is to know their place and to sit still in it (Illich 1973).Illich suggested that a system should be established that makes it possible for knowledge to be widelydiffused and shared, not confined to specialists. Learners should not have to submit to a standardcurriculum, and they should have personal choice over what they study.
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Like Illich, sociologist Basil Bernstein (1924-2000) was interested in the way in which educationreproduces inequalities in society. Drawing on conflict theory, Bernstein examined inequality ineducation through and analysis of linguistic skills. In the 1970s Bernstein argued that children from
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varying backgrounds develop different codes, or forms of speech, during their early lives, which affecttheir subsequent school experience. He was not concerned with differences in vocabulary or verbalskills; his interest was in systematic differences in ways of using languages, particularly in the contrastbetween poorer and wealthier children.The speech of working-class children, Bernstein contended, represents a restricted code- a way of usinglanguage containing many unstated assumptions that speakers expect others to know. A restricted codeis a type of speech tied to its own cultural setting. Many working-class people live in a strong familial orneighborhood culture, in which values and norms are taken for granted and not expressed in language.Parents tend to socialize their children directly by the use of rewards and reprimands to correct theirbehavior. Language in a restricted code is more suitable for communication about practical experiencethan for discussion of more abstract ideas, processes or relationships. Restricted code is thuscharacteristic of children growing up in lower-class families, and of the peer groups in which they spendtheir time. Speech is oriented to the norms of the group, without anyone easily being able to explainwhy they follow the patterns of behavior they do. representBernsteins ideas help us understand why those from certain socioeconomic backgrounds tend to beunder-achievers at school. The following traits have been associated with restricted code speech, all of them inhibiting a childs educational chances:1.
 
The child probably receives limited responses to questions asked at home and therefore is likelyto be both less well informed and less curious about the wider world than those masteringelaborated codes.2.
 
The child will find it difficult to respond to the unemotional and abstract language used inteaching, as well as to appeals to general principles of school discipline.

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