Introduction: Individual and Social Differences
This book is written for students of individual and social differences by a sociologist. The sociology of education concerns itself with differences in access to education, where ‘access’ is understood in the broadest possible sense, between different social groups. It leaves individual differences to the psychologist. Something like that, at least, is the theory. It is not, of course, a good theory. In fact, many sociologists (Jencks et al., 1972) and psychologists (Scarr, 1981) work on broadly the same problem, with broadly the same methods. Schiff and Lewontin’s (1986) adoption study, concerned with the sociological issue of group differences, provides another recent example of work squarely in the research tradition of genetic psychology. But while this area of theoretical and methodological overlap does exist, the now dominant tradition in the sociology of education prefers to bypass these issues which differential psychology places at the centre of its concerns. These issues have to do with the determinants of educational performance: in short, how much is due to intelligence and to what extent is intelligence due to genetic endowment? In view of the crucial importance of these questions it is astonishing that contemporary sociological research into socially differentiated educational attainment should almost completely ignore them.
KeywordsCultural Heritage Cultural Capital Educational Performance Social Difference Genetic Endowment
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