The Impact of Class and Ethnicity on Education Viewed Through the Lens of Social Capital
Social capital is a concept widely discussed by academics and policy makers, particularly during the last decade. Even though a great deal of attention is given to the impact of social capital on learning, discussions often fail to take sufficiently into account how social capital works for different ethnic groups and/or social class backgrounds. This paper argues that social capital is context specific, as its forms and effects are not always the same but vary across different groups, such as ethnicity and social class. As a result, social capital is sensitive to the social inequalities that exist both within and outside the school. This paper analyses various types and processes of social capital that are relevant to education such as parental involvement in schooling, peer relationships, networks and norms within the community etc; in turn, it is explained how a strong intersectionality between issues of class and ethnicity intermediates social capital and its role on educational achievement. This paper concludes that social capital is one more process through which social advantages are reproduced and social inequalities are aggravated. If social capital is not seen in this framework, certain policy initiatives - particularly in the UK - which attempt to improve educational achievement by boosting social capital are unlikely to have a significant impact.
Keywords: Social Capital, Ethnicity, Social Class, Educational Achievement
PhD Student, Department of Lifelong and Comparative Education