New Barriers and Continuing Constraints
Edited by Jacqueline Scott, Rosemary Crompton and Clare Lyonette
Chapter 8: Family, Class and Gender ‘Strategies’ in Mothers’ Employment and Childcare
Rosemary Crompton and Clare Lyonette INTRODUCTION: SOCIETAL INEQUALITIES: ORIGINS AND POLICIES As cross-national comparisons demonstrate, Britain is a highly unequal society, and indeed, class inequalities have considerably widened since the 1980s (Hills 2004). Sociologists with very different approaches to ‘class analysis’ would be in agreement on one important point – that the major ‘transmission belt’ for the reproduction of class inequalities is the family (Erikson and Goldthorpe 1993, Bourdieu 1996, Crompton 2006). However, there are important differences in emphasis. Whereas Goldthorpe (via the development of Rational Action Theory, RAT) has been emphatic that the ‘drivers’ of class reproduction via the educational system are entirely economic, Bourdieu and others influenced by his approach (such as Reay and Lucey 2003; Ball 2003) have also emphasised the parallel impact of cultural and social capital in the creation and reproduction of class habitus – ‘things to do or not to do, things to say or not to say, in relation to a probable upcoming future’ (Bourdieu, cited in Ball 2003: 16). In contrast to Goldthorpe’s approach, therefore, these authors emphasise that both economic and cultural factors are significant in the reproduction of class inequalities. In general, we would be in agreement with those who have emphasised the dual significance of economic and cultural factors in the reproduction of class inequalities (Crompton 2008). However, the question of the relative importance of one or the other factor is an important issue in policy debates. If class inequalities are seen as a ‘problem’ to be tackled, then the question...
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