19 SES 10 A, Young People, Voice and Resistance in Schools
This article, which is based on ethnographies in two schools from different socio-economic classes in Israel, examines three main issues: Do schools relate to issues of human rights and student rights, and if so, how? How does this correspond with the existing findings on the link between education and class? How does this influence the role of the school in maintaining educational (in)equality? For a theoretical understanding of these issues, two main frameworks will be utilized: cultural capital, education, and inequality; and the study of human rights education. The empirical examinations of the study issues are based on comparisons of ethnographies of educational incidents that took place simultaneously in both schools (student protests over installing surveillance cameras).
Several researchers have revealed in recent years how socialization disparities in various classes contribute to educational stratification, not only via cognitive-academic skills, but also by cultivating social and behavioral skills and "soft" skills (Jennings and DiPrete 2010). These skills are actually described as cultural capital affiliated not only with academic achievements, but also occupational achievements. They are viewed as markers of high status that give the gate keepers a message of cultural similarity or being "one of us" (Kaufman and Gabler 2004), and which are critical to obtaining senior employment positions (Rivera 2015).
In an innovative study about parenting styles, class, and everyday life, Anette Lareau (2003) explains, for instance, how children from the middle and upper class acquire ease in communication with authority figures. They feel comfortable asking for more help from their teachers and other areas (Calarco 2014) and in fact use them to their benefit.
Current ethnographies in elite schools (Demerath 2009; Khan 2011) also illustrate how cultural capital is specifically obtained, for instance through having the students practice a sense of ease (including the message that cultural hierarchies are "natural"); establishing a distinction regarding their unusual subjectivities; trying to imagine a privileged (academic and professional) future or colonizing the future; massive use of psychological discourse and capital, which encourages the students to have a preference for solipsism over structural attributes; and popular use of recognition technologies ("student of the month," "stellar student"), which in turn promote meritocratic discourse.
On the other hand, contemporary studies reveal that children from a low socio-economic class express respect and distance from authority figures. Against this backdrop, they avoid asking for help and use a "logic of appeasement" (Calarco 2014). Other studies also report that teachers apply less practices of choice and negotiation towards them, and employ authoritative discipline. These practices operate as a "hidden curriculum" (Anyon 1980), which builds an obedient subjectivity, which in turn makes it difficult to achieve rewards in elite arenas in the future.
These findings should disturb anyone who is engaged in the study of inequality, especially considering the connection between non-academic skills and academic achievements (Jennings and Diprete 2010). Considering these findings and the findings about the importance of being aware of rights and practicing them, and the differences in human rights experiences and their breach by students of various ethnic groups (Morrill et al. 2010), my study suggests viewing human rights education as cultural capital that has the (transformational) potential to maintain or undermine inequality.
Almog, S., and Perry-Hazan, L. 2011. The Ability to Claim and the Opportunity to Imagine: Rights Consciousness and the Education of Ultra-Orthodox Girls. Journal of Law and Education 40: 273-303. Anyon, J. 1980. Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work. Journal of Education 162(1): 67-72. Bourdieu, P. 1984. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Calarco, J. 2014. The Inconsistent Curriculum: Cultural Tool Kits and Student Interpretations of Ambiguous Expectations. Social Psychology Quarterly 77(2): 185-209. Demerath, P. 2009. Producing Success. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Felstiner, W. L. F., Abel, R. L., & Sarat, A. 1980-1981. The Emergence and Transformation of Disputes. Law and Society Review 15: 631-654 Jennings, J. L., and DiPrete, T. A. 2010. Teacher Effects on Cultural Capital Development in Elementary School. Sociology of Education 83: 135–159. Kaufman, J., and Gabler, J. 2004. Cultural Capital and the Extracurricular Activities of Boys and Girls in the College Attainment Process. Poetics 32: 145–168. Khan, S. 2011. Privilege: The Making of an adolescent elite at St. Paul's school. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Lareau, A. 2003. Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life. Berkeley: University of California Press. Morrill, C., Tyson, K., Edelman, L. B., Arum, R. 2010. Legal Mobilization in Schools: The Paradox of Rights and Race among Youth. Law & Society Review, 44(3‐4): 651-694. Rivera, L. 2015. Pedigree: How Elite Students Get Elite Jobs. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
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