23 SES 10 C, International Policies - Local Affects: Regenerating the Sociology of Basil Bernstein
Topic: This paper takes as its starting point the explanations for the gender gap in literacy attainment demonstrated in the construction of the variables used in PISA to analyse and report on gender differences in reading (OECD, 2002; 2011). Taken together the explanatory variables and the reports draw on and then re-export discourses about the interaction between reading, motivation and attainment that have been produced elsewhere in the education field to explain boys’ lack of engagement in reading. The data will be re-read though an ethnographic lens focused on researching literacy events in four primary schools in England. Research Question: Can an ethnography that maps the boundaries to reading that are enacted in practice in specific classrooms provide a social explanation for gender differences in reading? Can PISA data be re-framed through this encounter and turned into useful knowledge? If so, under what terms? The specifics of place become important in this discussion, as one place may create very different boundaries in practice to another, an issue that analyses of PISA data do not acknowledge nor yet explore. Theoretical Framework: I work with Bernstein from an ethnographic point of view, treating his theory as an exercise in category-making, and category-mapping, trained on the boundaries established within social practice at particular moments in time and space (Bernstein 1996; 2000). The boundaries in practice established in this way create dislocations as well as coherence and it is the tension points between categories that lead to change. The paper will demonstrate this approach by considering how an ethnography of children’s reading in primary school classrooms in England (Moss, 2007) has led to an alternative explanation for gender differences in literacy attainment and indeed boys’ interests in reading that make school, not home, central to the argument. The paper will consider whether PISA data can be used to support this hypothesis, and if so, in what ways, and under what conditions.
Bernstein, B. (1996). Pedagogy, Symbolic Control and Identity. Theory, Research, Critique. London and New York, Taylor and Francis. Bernstein, B. (2000). Pedagogy, Symbolic Control and Identity. Theory, Research, Critique. Revised Edition. Lanham, Boulder, New York, Oxford, Rowan & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. Moss, G. (2007) Literacy and Gender: Researching Texts, Contexts and Readers. Abingdon: Routledge OECD (2002) Reading for change : performance and engagement across countries: results from PISA 2000. Paris : OECD Publishing. OECD (2011) Education at a Glance 2011: OECD Indicators, Paris: OECD Publishing.
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