Homeworks academic writing service


Discuss the way urban middle class identities

One of those conferences was in Manchester and one of the speakers at that conference was one of the authors of this book. He discussed this research and so reading this became fairly urgent. The basic idea of social theory is trying to understand the interplay of agency and structure.

But mostly we like to think we have lots of agency free will and are barely influenced at all by structure.

See a Problem?

It is only In July I spent a month in England and Scotland, travelling around and attending conferences. Where this research is particularly interesting is that it is conducted by white, middle class people on other white middle class people. This is much more rare than you might think. We live in neoliberal times. But what does that mean? One of the things it means is that we tend to believe that market-based solutions are the best solutions to all our problems.

Freedom is identical with choice and choice is only possible if there are things to choose between. The more competition there is in society, the more choices there are and therefore the greater the amount of freedom. Such ideas ignore the great countervailing forces acting to limit both choice and competition. If there is only one viable choice, then there is no choice at all. The example used in this book is school choice. Neoliberal times imply a kind of dog-eat-dog, everyone is in this for themselves, kill or be killed selfishness.

This is promoted as the ultimate good — as it is only when everyone is being selfish that they are motivated to achieve great things. As someone said, always back self-interest in the race of life, at least you know he's trying. But we are also witnessing a squeezing of the middle classes as our societies become increasingly unequal — ironically enough, an inevitable consequence of the competition and mean-spirited selfishness promoted by neoliberalism. This squeezing is making being middle class an increasingly dangerous and precarious position to be in.

Anxiety is a particularly middle class disposition. The rich might have further to fall, but they are much less likely to actually fall. The middle classes can see the ground as up close and personal — they know what falling will mean. For increasing numbers of middle class families providing a good education for their kids means sending them to either a private school or some form of select entry school.

These parents are effectively buying positional advantage for their children. Exactly what you might expect in neoliberal times. Effectively, these parents are using their money and social networks as elbows to force open a space where their kids will be better off than your kids.

It has always been thus. This book focuses on another group of middle class parents entirely. What possible reason could you have for making such a crazy choice? Well, the reasons they have are incredibly interesting. Some of them simply believe in the benefits for the whole of society in having a good quality comprehensive schooling system. They believe that if middle class people keep removing their kids from that system and that system is increasingly seen as the place where the underprivileged go, then such a two-tier education system will make our society a worse place in which to live.

Rather than providing their kids with a lesser education, these parents saw the white-bread, middle class, everyone discuss the way urban middle class identities the same as you private school educational experience as being the lesser one. The kids put through this system, it is repeatedly said in the book, have no awareness of other cultures or other kinds of people and therefore no ways of being able to understand or cope with difference.

This means that sending your children to the local comprehensive school actually provides them with real positional advantages. Advantages that are impossible to achieve otherwise. It is all too easy to find the core of selfishness in any act. And in part this book is basically looking for just that. But there is a larger narrative at work here. The authors of this study would like to find out if it is possible to be truly community spirited in a world that is increasingly self-interested and grasping.

Many of the parents discussed here are disgusted by the way our society is atomising. Or rather, they tended to misattribute what these advantages actually were. So, while their child would reap the benefits discuss the way urban middle class identities learning to cope with lots of different types of people, they would be unlikely to end up like those people.

White Middle Class Identities and Urban Schooling

They felt the discuss the way urban middle class identities of the other kids at these schools was unlikely to prove contagious, at least not to their children. Their innate superiority would see them through — and, in fact, this mostly proved to be the case. The kids shone in these environments and topped their schools. In fact, some parents saw this as one of the key advantages to sending their kids to such a school.

They wanted their kids to mix with kids from various ethnic minorities. The working class were seen as having made bad choices and therefore living out the consequences of those choices something the authors note greatly confirms the neoliberal assumptions the parents are otherwise seeking to undermine.

In these senses the ethnic children are seen as also having a kind of middle class habitus and so are seen as being less threatening to that habitus than working class children. Much of this is shown to be much less of a threat than might be assumed. Middle class families buy middle class houses and these tend to be in middle class suburbs.

That then means that there are other middle class families near by and some of these may also send their kids to the local school. And this is where middle class and mostly unconscious and unacknowledged advantage really comes to the fore. White people are generally unaware of their advantage. This is the default position and everything else is aberrant. And so it is with being middle class.

  1. And so it is with being middle class.
  2. Effectively, these parents are using their money and social networks as elbows to force open a space where their kids will be better off than your kids.
  3. White people are generally unaware of their advantage.
  4. If there is only one viable choice, then there is no choice at all.
  5. That we have created a society that forces people to choose between social good and the good of their children creates a situation where everyone loses.

This plays out in interesting ways. One of the most interesting is in expecting to achieve. Most of the kids followed here ended discuss the way urban middle class identities being streamed into high achiever classes — that is, where they were separated from pretty well those they were supposedly sent to these schools to mingle with.

Rarely were any of these social advantages understood by the parents as being manifestly unfair, these advantages were seen as a playing out of their children's dues.

One of the things I found particularly interesting here was the discussion of the benefits of having middle class parents in the school. High risks, but with potentially high returns. However, the benefits to schools of middle class parents was also challenged in this study. What they mostly found was that these parents were only interested in involving themselves in issues that affected their children.

They also tended to push out working class parents from various school committees. Middle class loathing for working class people was probably one of the most consistent findings of this research. I really found this to be incredibly interesting book. That we have created a society that forces people to choose between social good and the good of their children creates a situation where everyone loses.

While we like to see ourselves as being mostly unaffected by the society we live in, as self-made and self-realised, the opposite is more the case. And if we accept a society that is atomised, then increasingly we are going to be solely interested in protecting what is ours.

Negotiating such troubled spaces, as this research does, cannot help but be confronting and challenging. You can guess that by references to habitus and an interest in social class.