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Capitals, ethnic identity and educational qualifications

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87 - 105
Number of pages19
JournalCultural Trends
Volume13 (2)
DatePublished - Jun 2004


Cultural capital analysis, or class analysis more generally, exacerbates rather than resolves the anomaly of why non-white ethnic minorities in Britain are over-represented in higher education. Some of these groups have a disproportionate lower, socio-economic profile and yet at least some of these groups are more likely to pursue and achieve entry into higher education than whites, especially, their white working-class peers. They also suffer additional disadvantages such as racism and cultural marginality. Bourdieu's concept of cultural capital is designed to explain why members of a disadvantaged class achieve less educational success than an advantaged class. It is not helpful in explaining why some disadvantaged groups do better than one would have predicted on the basis of a class (and/or racism) analysis. On the other hand, US sociological studies which deploy the concept of social capital in combination with ethnicity to explain the trajectories of 'second generation' migrants seem promising. This conclusion is offered on the basis of a brief literature review and a suggestion that the 'motor' of the British South Asian and Chinese overcoming of disadvantage lies in migrant parents getting their children to internalize high educational ambitions and to enforce appropriate behaviour.

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Publisher: Routledge

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