RE: [xmca] Fwd: from a valued colleague

From: Kristen R. Clark (
Date: Sun Mar 12 2006 - 12:03:33 PST

Hi Phil - Yes, this is important work that you cite. There is no doubt
that privilege plays a role but the question addressed by the article I
posted was how to account for divergence of biographies among those
growing up in the same family (clearly an attempt is made to use family
membership as a proxy for class).

What becomes problematic is that kids don't necessarily grow up with the
same parenting styles just because they might live in the same home.
For example I can think of families (I know) in which one child is
carted off to activity after activity and one stays home and doesn't
benefit as much. In another working class home with 5 children the
parents changed their parenting style and whole approach after the death
of their middle child. The two oldest grew up in an extremely
constrained, religious, and disciplined environment but after the death
of the middle child, religion was less important and the discipline was
more lax.

Up for consideration is the idea that to caricature our participants
based on class risks closing our eyes to the multi-varied circumstances
that affect development and potentiality for social action. I'm not
sure where this leads us as a group but I thought the article raised
some important questions.


-----Original Message-----
From: []
On Behalf Of Phil Chappell
Sent: Sunday, March 12, 2006 6:46 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Fwd: from a valued colleague

On 12/03/2006, at 2:31 PM, Kristen R. Clark wrote:

> One common thread between the two stories is that either
> through privilege, luck, or family favor certain kids seem to
> develop an
> affect or set of discourses they can access which help them later on

Hi Kristen,

I wonder whether we can dismiss luck and favour here and go straight
to privilege as an explanation?? Interesting sociological and
sociolinguistic research has been done in Australia in class/home/
school differences, with one very important outcome being that the
linguistic resources used to express concepts and prior experiences
during parent/child intellectual activity, such as shared book
reading appears to be a privileged discourse of families with
professional parents (see Geoffrey Williams' work, recently
transferred to OISE in Canada). Parent/child discourse including
conceptual and historical aspects, when recontextualised into the
classroom, affords the privileged child more direct access to
mainstream literacy practices.

I hope that research such as this into such significant parts of
human development makes redundant the "hit or miss" explanations that
we might find in the media.

Some words from Basil Bernstein:

"The privileging of discourse tends to abstract the analysis of
discourse from the detailed empirical analysis of its basis in social
structure. The relationships between symbolic structures and social
structures are in danger of being severed"

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