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Middle class fractions, childcare and the 'relational' and 'normative' aspects of class practice

By Stephen Ball, Carol Vincent, Sophie Kemp and Soile Pietikainen


The emphasis in class research remains on the structural aspects of class, class processes are neglected. This paper focuses upon some relational and normative aspects of class through an examination of social divisions produced and constructed within middle class families’ choices of childcare. Working with data from two contrasting settings in London (Battersea and Stoke Newington) three issues are addressed in the paper; the extent to which childcare arrangements both substantively and structurally position children differently within long term educational careers; the ways in which the use of choice in a market system of child care and education, works to produce patterns of social closure that quietly discriminate via the collectivist criterion of class and racial membership; and the ways in which child care choices also point-up and perpetuate subtle distinctions and tensions of values and lifestyle within the middle class, between class factions. Concepts drawn from the work of Bourdieu are deployed throughout

Year: 2004
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