This chapter discusses rational action theories of educational inequality. The chapter outlines our current knowledge of patterns of inequality in education and introduces Raymond Boudon’s distinction between the primary and secondary effects of social stratification, often described as the impact of social class on performance and choice. Evidence on the relative magnitude of these effects is discussed, before considering theoretical explanations for their origin. In rational action theories, secondary effects arise largely from the economic and social costs of education, the greater ‘distance of travel’ required for working-class upward mobility, and the desire of all classes to at least maintain their class position. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the specific role of class in rational action theories, highlighting key elements of the conceptions of class required to fulfil this role.
|Title of host publication
|Education and Working-Class Youth
|Subtitle of host publication
|Reshaping the Politics of Inclusion
|Robin Simmons, John Smyth
|Number of pages
|Published - 25 May 2018