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Theory at risk: Accounting for the excellence movement

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Amidst widespread concern about educational crisis and the need for reform, the current “excellence movement” places a pronounced emphasis on “rigor,” “standards,” and a “core” curriculum of “basic” studies. At issue here is whether major macro-the-oretical perspectives can account for the emergence of this movement. Functional and Marxian theories do not meet this challenge well, especially insofar as they posit a tight, rational linkage between school and economy and downplay the institutional autonomy of the educational system. A status conflict approach, emphasizing middle class mobilization, offers greater insight, though it must be complemented with a recognition of constraints imposed by capitalist organization and the institutionalization of educational myths.

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Kingston, P.W. Theory at risk: Accounting for the excellence movement. Sociol Forum 1, 632–656 (1986). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01107340

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  • Social Issue
  • Middle Class
  • Educational System
  • Great Insight
  • Rational Linkage