Reproduction and transformation: A Bourdieuian perspective on improving the educational outcomes of marginalised students

Year: 2005

Author: Mills, Carmen

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper draws on research concerned with the reproduction of social inequalities in schooling. While Bourdieu is used to understand these matters, the paper suggests that there is transformative potential in his theoretical constructs and that it is possible for schools - such as the secondary school in this research - to pave the way for improvement in the educational outcomes of marginalised students. The paper draws together the major areas of contribution to this theme of reproduction and transformation, beginning by characterising Bourdieu's notion of habitus (often criticised as too deterministic) as constituted by reproductive and transformative traits. This is followed by a discussion of capital and more specifically, the way that teachers can draw upon a variety of capitals to act as agents of transformation rather than reproduction. The paper concludes by considering the necessity of a transformation of the field to include parent participation in disadvantaged schools.