An Educational Babel?

  • John Eldridge


Supposing one argued that the problem to which Davies alludes is solved in British sociology by saying that what is being explained is the relationship between education and social inequality. This would echo the view of Archer (1970), who claims that in both England and France over the post-war period the sociology of education has had researchers who shared a common view of what the problems to be investigated were. In England during the 1950s, she maintains, two types of investigation tended to predominate: ‘the first confirmed the influence of social class origins upon various levels and types of educational achievement, while the second indicated that a variety of factors related to attainment were also associated with social background. This stress upon inter-class differences led to a complementary neglect of intra-class variations’ (op. cit., p. 120). She draws a number of conclusions from this state of affairs. First she appears to have reservations on the utility of class (as employed by educational sociologists) in models of explanation, supporting the view that it is ‘a gutless variable’. Second, she labels those who pursue such studies as ‘levellers’, suggesting that they have often been advocates in political debate. In particular they have endorsed educational expansion as a means of diminishing inequalities of access: ‘It seems a clear consequence of factors other than equality being forgotten that expansionism can be advocated solely from a consideration of input without consideration of its effects on education and society’ (op. cit., p. 122).


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© John Eldridge 1980

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  • John Eldridge

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