It is useful at this stage to examine the agents of socialisation which reproduce the cultural characteristics we have identified so far.
King and Raynor (1981) suggest that child-centredness is a distinctive feature of the middle-class family. In particular, the passing on of educational opportunities and attitudes is essential to the fact that middle-class children are more likely to succeed in the education system than working-class children.
Some researchers claim, controversially, that socialisation in middle-class homes is superior to that in working-class homes. It is argued that middle-class parenting views children's play as an opportunity to develop both language and intellect through the use of appropriate books, toys and games. Research by the Newsons (1968) claimed that middle-class parenting stresses the importance of what King and Raynor call 'achievement motivation' — the idea that society is a ladder to be climbed. The Newsons claim that middle-class parenting results in 'functional autonomy': children are trained to handle the adult world earlier than working-class children. As King and Raynor (1981) explain, middle-class children grow up Viewing the world as a place to be mastered through one's own activities'.
J Task 7. Find sociologically relevant definitions of the issues given below. In pairs play out short dialogues from the life of the middle class family that would be bright examples of these issues presented in the extract. Suggest the other group-mates guessing which characteristic of the middle class family your dialogues represent.
b) “achievement motivation”;
c) “functional autonomy”.
J Task 8. The following activity will help you to understand the impact of class identity on social behaviour and the links existing between the class and the role of family, education, etc., as well as values, attitudes, concerns characteristic of a certain class. 3 students from the group go out for a minute and distribute roles of people from different classes, other students discuss in brief and prepare 3-5 questions they would ask these class representatives in order to guess their identity.
While preparing your questions to the “class representatives” you may cover the following points:
- social aspiration (= ambition, desire to achieve, accomplish something);
- concerns, anxieties (what they are worried about);
- values, things of a paramount (=the greatest) importance;
- the status of family;
- the status of education;
- attitude to other classes;
- perspectives of social mobility.
As soon as all the points are covered and students have expressed their points of view in terms of the “identity” of their group-mates, the overall discussion can be organized. In the discussion students can tackle the following aspects:
- answers to what questions have influenced your opinion?
- answers to what questions have not contributed to shaping your final point of view?
- what qualities are equal for several classes?
- what characteristics of different classes have been especially tangible in the group-mates’ answers?
! Task 9. Sometimes you are so much interested in the topic that you want to share with others your own personal point of view or interpretation of the issue. How can you do it using an appropriate style and making your ideas appealing to your group-mates or future colleagues? Get acquainted with one more type of a formal piece of writing – the opinion essay.It requires your opinion on a topic, which must be stated clearly, giving various viewpoints on the topic supported by reasons and/or examples.
!In the article you have just read you have got
acquainted with the middle class as a social group
possessing its own cultural, political, economical
and even psychological characteristics. Using the notes
on this page, prompts about how to write a successful
opinion essay, formal style, the text of the article itself
and different linking words we have studied in this
and in the prevoius sub-unit, write your own opinion
essay in about 350 words on one of the topics
In spite of the existence of different social groups
it is difficult to speak about their own cultural
Good-bye to class structure: future perspectives.