Take it son. That bottle of wine cost me £20,000!
At British Sociological Association Annual Conference, United Kingdom.
Microsoft PowerPoint Take_it_son.ppt
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The paper is written from my doctoral thesis, which is a piece of longitudinal, qualitative research exploring parents' and students' educational decisions across two sixth-form institutions. The thesis explored how narratives of educational decision-making disrupt dominant accounts of a homogenously privileged and strategic middle class. The work carried out by Stephen Ball, Diane Reay and colleagues has been very influential in shaping the field of social class and educational decision-making. Above all, their work brings social class back centre-stage. In this paper, I consider how parents' use of fee-paying education helps us deconstruct the middle-class. In particular, I explore how the choice of private education, and moreover, the negotiated relationship between parents and fee-paying sixth-form can be understood as a classed practice. I look too at the ways in which the sixth-form institution represents its 'product' to the parents who consume it. Using Bourdieu's interpretation of 'gift-exchange' provides a new lens through which to understand the relationship between sixth-form and parents. In 'gift-exchange', Bourdieu draws our attention to the significance of the symbolism and codes of class. I argue that the relationship between parents and institution is mediated by an engagement and affinity with the sixth-form's dominant, class-coded capital. With its focus on gift-exchange therefore, and the concepts that underlie Bourdieu's interpretation, the paper explores how the institution and its fee-paying parents are engaged in an economic relationship which is misrecognised as such.
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