Performance, Choice and Social Class: Theorising Inequalities in Educational Opportunity

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEducation and Working-Class Youth
Subtitle of host publicationReshaping the Politics of Inclusion
EditorsRobin Simmons, John Smyth
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9783319906713
ISBN (Print)9783319906706
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2018


Dive into the research topics of 'Performance, Choice and Social Class: Theorising Inequalities in Educational Opportunity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this