Extract A Cultural Capital and Education Classes (page 75) To test Bourdieu's argument on cultural capital we must assume that parents who have passed through the academic institutions of grammar school, public school, or university will have a greater understanding of the educational system and its culture and will be better equipped to help their children cope with the demands of that system. Their children will be more likely to acquire 'that system of predispositions' necessary for success in the competitive selection tests that have been prevalent in the English educational system throughout our period. We would therefore expect the children of these 'educated' parents to have substantial advantages in the competition for selective school places. In addition, as we suggested in Chapter 4, we might expect the reforms of the 1944 Act to have shifted the balance of power further towards those with cultural capital, and away from those with financial capital only. We shall test these two expectations in this chapter; but the most rigorous test of Bourdieu's theory we must postpone to Chapter 8. There we shall consider whether children from educated backgrounds profit more from school in the form of examination successes than do those from less educated backgrounds. Bourdieu could reasonably argue that it is not mere attendance at a selective school which is important, but the acquisition of those academic credentials which our educational system offers to all but dispenses unequally. In the meantime, however, the question of attendance at selective schools is not uninteresting, and the results are given in Table 5.1. Table 5.1: Parents' and Respondents' Secondary Schooling Private State Non- Parental Schooling All schools Selective selective One or both parents attended private 47.7 (2.2)** 31.1 (1.4) 21.1 (0.9) 99.9 (4.5) secondary schools* (N=383) One or both attended state selective 100.0 11.7 (1.7) 44.7 (6.3) 43.6 (6.2) schools (N = 1204) (14.2) Both parents attended non-selective 100.0 3.1 (2.5) 25.2 (20.5) 71.7 (58.3) schools (N = 6923) (81.3) All (N=8510) (6.4) (28.2) (65.4) (100.0) *Where one parent attended a private secondary school and the other attended a state selective school, the parental schooling has been coded ** Figures in brackets give the cell or marginal frequency as a percentage of the total. Table 5.1 in effect takes the outflow form of a conventional mobility table with parents and sons categorized as members of 'education classes'. Looked at in this way, it appears that the diagonal cells are dominant, i.e. there is considerable self-recruitment between generations of the education classes. Sons tend to follow the secondary-school example of their parents. It should be noticed, however, that the highest degree of self-recruitment is in the lowest education class (72 per cent). This feature parallels the findings of Goldthorpe and Llewellyn  with respect to intergenerational mobility among occupational classes. They have emphasized, by contrast with the findings of the earlier LSE (1949) study, that it is the working class and not the service class that tends towards closure or intergenerational continuity. In fact a parallel change in the structure of opportunities occurred in education as in the occupational sphere, giving increased opportunities 'at the top' for sons compared with fathers. Goldthorpe and Llewellyn demonstrate this in their occupational mobility analysis. Table 5.1 does the same in the case of the education classes: the off-diagonal cells are not empty, those to the left and below the diagonal representing upward mobility, while downward mobility is represented by those to the right and above. The extent of upward and downward mobility is best seen through the bracketed figures in Table 5.1 which are percentages of the total sample. As much as one-fifth of our respondents came from 'uneducated' parents and went (page 77) to state selective schools. These figures also show more generally that over two-thirds were intergenerationally stable (the diagonal cells) between education ' classes, nearly a quarter were upwardly mobile (lower left cells) and only 8 per cent were downwardly mobile. Educational expansion in our period therefore produced marked net upward mobility, the bulk of it being short-range from the 'uneducated home' to the state selective school class. This is largely a consequence of the shapes of the distributions and of their rate of change. The private sector is so small that even if all its members were recruited from the intermediate educational class only 45 per cent of the members of that class would be upwardly mobile. And since there is in any event a high degree of self- recruitment in the private sector, it is not surprising that only 12 per cent of the intermediate educational class were upwardly mobile. In contrast, 28 per cent of the lowest educational class were upwardly mobile, the great majority of these 'mobile' individuals moving into the grammar and technical schools. These respondents can be regarded as 'first generation' grammar-school boys and technical-school boys, and Table 5.2 shows that they constituted a huge majority of those at grammar and technical schools. Eighty per cent of those at technical schools came from what may crudely be termed 'uneducated' backgrounds, and two-thirds of those at grammar schools. This is a striking result. It means that the state selective schools (much more than the private schools) were doing far more than merely 'reproducing' cultural capital; they were creating it, too. They were bringing an academic or technical training to a very substantial number of boys from homes that were not in any formal sense educated. They were not the preserve of an educated middle class in the same way, and to the extent that the independent HMC schools were, and accordingly they were not merely maintaining a 'cycle of privilege' in which cultural capital is acquired by those from educated homes. They were at least offering an opportunity to acquire cultural capital to those homes which had not secured it in the past. True, as we have already noted, mere attendance at a grammar or technical school does not ensure the acquisition of educational skills and credentials. The question of whether cultural capital in the family determines success within selective schools remains an open one. For the moment, however, it is clear that at least formal, if not effective, opportunity is offered to many boys from 'unschooled' backgrounds. Table 5.2: 'First Generation' pupils at Selective Schools* (percentages) Technical 80.0 Grammar 67.5 Direct Grant 47.4 Independent non-HMC 47.6 Independent HMC 27.1 * 'First generation' pupils are defined as pupils at selective schools both of whose parents had attended only non-selective schools. We should also note that the extent of net upward mobility is not a product (page 78) only of the shape, and rate of change of this 'educational class structure'. The expansion of the state selective schools does indeed mean that some net upward mobility was inevitable but this alone would not necessarily have generated the observed pattern. Following Boudon, we can compare the actual pattern of mobility with the one that would have occurred, if all places had been allocated on a strictly hierarchical basis. By a strictly hierarchical allocation we mean that all boys from privately educated backgrounds are allocated to private schools themselves and the remaining surplus of places (due to expansion, differential fertility, and so on) are then given to boys from intermediate backgrounds (that is, from homes in which one or both parents was educated at a state selective school), all the remaining boys from intermediate backgrounds are then allocated to state selective schools, the remaining surplus of places being finally given to boys from the lowest educational class. Table 5.3 gives the results, and it shows that the expansion of the selective schools in this hierarchical model would necessarily have led to upward mobility for 19.5 per cent of the members of the lowest educational class. This contrasts with the actual figure of 28 per cent, one that is considerably nearer to the 34.5 per cent that would be expected on the basis of random allocation than to the figure from the hierarchical model. Clearly then, something was going on in addition to the growth of the 'education' classes and their tendency to reproduce themselves. The proneness towards self-recruitment within each class is consistent with substantial mobility both upwards and downwards, the actual movement being considerably in excess of that forced by changes in the educational structure. Table 5.3: The Hierarchical Model* (percentages) Respondent's Education Parental Education Private State Selective Non-Selective Private 100.0 0 0 100 State Selective 13.0 87.0 0 100 Non-Selective 0 19.5 80.5 100 * For explanation, see text. Trends Towards Meritocratic Secondary Education? Is this unforced surplus of educational mobility a reflection of a trend towards meritocratic selection for secondary education? We shall pursue this question with the aid of cohort analysis, emphasizing first the parallels and departures of our findings on educational mobility compared with those in Chapter 4 on class chances. The pattern of outflow in successive cohorts to selective secondary schooling is shown in Table 5.4. As in the social-class pattern of secondary schooling, there is both self-recruitment and mobility. But there is also a crucial difference. The pattern of the log distances is quite different from the ones we (page 79) saw in Chapter 4. First of all, the distances between the 'highest' (private parental education) class and the 'lowest' (non-selective parental education) show no significant narrowing throughout the whole period. Indeed, there is a slight widening at the end of the period. On the other hand, there is a marked drop in the post-war period in the distance between the 'middle' (state selective parental education) and the 'lowest' education class. Here at last we have found an interesting, and sustained, drop in differentials. It is a drop, too, that we had not predicted. Our earlier remarks in Chapter 4 had suggested that the 1944 Act might rather have increased the differential by making it easier for educated but less affluent parents to secure a selective education for their offspring. However, we now see that the 1944 Act did not make it easier for educated parents to get their children into selective schools. On the contrary, the advantage which these parents had over those with no selective schooling actually declined. Table 5.4: Attendance at Selective Schools by Birth Cohort and Parental Schooling Birth Cohort Parental Schooling 1913-22 1923-32 1933-42 1943-52 All 71.6 82.4 89.2 75.7 78.8 One or both at private secondary schools 101* 98 101 108 102 58.0 71.6 57.7 49.4 56.4 One or both at state selective schools 80 84 57 65 69 26.1 30.8 32.5 25.8 28.3 Both at non-selective schools 0 0 0 0 0 All 29.6 37.0 38.8 34.8 34.6 Following the line of argument which we used in Chapter 4, two possible explanations for this drop immediately suggest themselves. First, as we showed in Chapter 4 an expansion of selective school places relative to both the service class and the population as a whole would enable higher proportions of all classes to attend; in terms of our Figure 4.1 this meant that the line E moved to the left, leading to more equal class chances. The same argument could apply in the case of our 'education classes'. Alternatively, if selection procedures became more meritocratic, this would also lead to a decline in differentials. In terms of Figure 4.1 again, this would mean that the lines come closer to the vertical. We can test these rival explanations as we did in Chapter 4 by seeing what pattern of differentials our meritocratic model predicts over time, starting from the following assumptions: (i) the number of vacancies at selective schools, and the number of children from the different 'education classes', that is, supply and demand, changed in the way they actually did; (ii) procedures remained throughout perfectly meritocratic, with selective schools as a group having first choice of pupils, and choosing solely on the basis of measured intelligence.