J.W.B Douglas (1964, 1970) did a study on over 5000 children through their years at school in education. He found that working class parents were less interested in their child’s education, than middle class parents were. For example, he found that working class parents had less worries and concern about their child doing well in school and gaining high qualifications, than middle class parents were. He also found that working class parents had less interest in their children’s education, and were less likely to visit teachers to talk about their child’s progress. However, middle class parents were the opposite. They wanted to be fully involved in their child’s education, and ensure they get the best grades ect. Feinstein (2003) used data from the National Child Development Study to look at cultural and other factors that affect educational achievement. He found two main things that had a big effect on achievement. 1) Financial deprivation and 2) cultural deprivation. Financial deprivation is having poorer parents. This can affect educational achievement in a number of ways. One being the fact that parents cannot afford study materials and resources to help with their child’s education, for example, private tuition, extra text books ect.
Cultural deprivation is when parents do not support or encourage their child in education and this can have a huge effect on the child’s achievement. However, this theory of cultural deprivation is heavily criticized, and especially by the sociologists Blackmoore and Mortimore (1994). They argue that this theory is based on class, and that this approach towards education does not happen with all parents, mainly working-class parents rather than middle-class parents. They also argue that research has not measured the parents’ interest in their children’s education accurately and teachers assessments have been used, which is not in detail enough and may be a biased approach. Basil Bernstein (1972) believes that speech patterns affect educational achievement. He said that there were two types of speech codes; elaborated speech and restricted codes. The restricted codes are generally used by working-class people and elaborated codes by middle-class people. Bernstein sais that using restricted codes in the family, before going to school, influences and teaches the children to speak in a way that may limit their understanding of school, and may limit their educational achievements.
However, Bernstein has been criticized by Gain and George (1999). They argue that Bernstein oversimplifies the differences between middle and working class speech patterns and that many other factors apart from speech effect achievement levels. Pierre Bourdieu (1984) believes that parents possession of different types of capital can affect achievement. For example, if parents have ownership of wealth, their children are more likely to have more resources and materials, e.g. private tuition or private education. Also, possession of valuable social contacts, for example knowing the head teacher of a private school, or professors socially. This could help with getting into highly expensive and academic schools. These possessions generally apply to middle or upper-class parents, however this theory is criticized for being biased towards culture of higher social classes.
Stephen Ball et al (2000) supported Bernstein’s theory of cultural capital, but Ball et all looked at the process of choosing what secondary school children went to, and the parent’s influences. They found that middle-class parents had an advantage over working-class parents because middle-class parents have the knowledge to play the education system, to ensure their children get into the high academically achieving schools. Whereas working-class parents lacked money to pay for things such as transport, to send their kids to better off but far away schools. Reay et al (2005) did some research looking into higher education and cultural factors. He found that working-class students were more likely to apply at local universities rather than long distance ones, to save money on travel. This puts working-class students at a disadvantage as they may not be able to get the best education, and degree levels, and therefore not get the best jobs that the middle-class and upper-class are very likely to get.