Applying Material From Item A And Your Knowledge, Evaluate Sociological Explanations Of Ethnic Differences In Educational Achievement

1070 words - 5 pages

Sociological research has challenged the view that ethnic differences in achievement reflect innate differences of intelligence and ability; this has become a view that very few sociologists now put forward. Ethnicity refers to the shared cultural traditions and history, which are distinct from other groups in society. The level of achievement of different ethnic groups varies. This may be due to factors such as home background, class, language and in-school factors. Recent studies highlight the effects of racism. Ethnicity influences factors that lead to an impact on education.

There are many reasons for educational underachievement and it has been said that ethnicity is one of these ...view middle of the document...

This can therefore lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy of the student whereby they become troublesome to their teachers. However, as criticism to this Sewell found evidence that not every pupil responded with the self-fulfilling prophecy, and in fact some African-Caribbean students adopted ‘White’ values and behaviours at the expense of losing their African-Caribbean stereotypical identities by rebelling against the label. These are reasons as to why certain ethnic groups are underachieving in education.

Material factors may also affect ethnic groups in the education system. Material deprivation explanations see educational failure as results from factors such as substandard housing and low income. Ethnic minorities are more likely to face these problems according to Flaherty as unemployment is three times higher for African and Bangladeshi/Pakistani people than for white people. Pakistanis are nearly twice as likely to be in unskilled or semi-skilled jobs compared to whites. Ethnic minorities are more likely to be engaged in shift work. These inequalities parallel those in educational achievement e.g. Indians and whites generally have higher social class position than Bangladeshis and Pakistanis who often experience high levels of poverty. . In addition to this it is believed that women’s traditional roles, still largely exist in their culture, and so they are held back from education. Also related to culture is language, which is not primarily English in most Bangladeshi and Pakistani families. This results in the children being disadvantaged from a young age when they start school as they have poor knowledge of English language. However Gillborn and Mirza argue that social class factors do not override the influence of ethnicity. When comparing pupils of the same social class but different ethnic origins, there are still differences in achievement. This is particularly the case for black children, since even middle class black pupils do relatively poorly at GCSE’s therefore suggesting that material deprivation is not entirely the reason why ethnic groups fail.

Mirza’s study, ‘Young Female and Black’, emphasizes on the variety of ways on which ethnic minorities respond to racism in the education system. Mirza studied about 200 young men and women including black women aged 15-10 in two comprehensive schools in South London. Mirza observed the students, by using...

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