Beyond the Class Ceiling: Education and Upward Social Mobility


Photo by Piedmont Virginia Community College | CC BY 2.0

One of the major differences between working and middle to upper-class parents, when it comes to their children’s education, and specifically how to best maximize their chances at upward social mobility, is that the former – in America, especially, since this nation pretty much purged its radical Left long ago – essentially believe that they ought to control their children’s behaviors and actions directly; the belief being that one is determined primarily by one’s actions (e.g. “to pull oneself up by one’s bootstraps”) – often the jurisdiction of authoritarian Dads, or Moms. Whereas the latter (i.e. middle to upper-class parents, also known globally as the “Bourgeois”), although they superficially agree rhetorically with the former that one is determined by one’s actions (as the very legitimacy and persistence of their class privileges partly rests on this social belief – meritocracy! –), actually know, deep down, that one is primarily determined by one’s environment – considering many of them inherited a substantial part, if not all, of their start-up economic, and even cultural and social capital (connections) – and that therefore the key is to provide the right environment to shape the individual, as opposed to trying to control their actions directly.

Hence, Bourgeois parents, unlike their working-class counterparts, deliberately align the proper “determinisms” by actively…

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