AQA A-Level Sociology: Ethnic Differences in Achievement - External Factors 1

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All credit goes to the 'AQA A Level Sociology Book One [Including AS Level]'. Any opinions expressed are the opinions of the sociologists mentioned. Author credits: Rob Webb, Hal Westergaard, Keith Trobe and Annie Townend

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1.1 The cultural deprivation theory sees the underachievement of some ethnic groups as the result of inadequate socialisation in the home.
1.2 Intellectual and linguistic skills
1.2.1 Cultural deprivation theorists argue that many children from low-income black families lack intellectual stimulation and enriching experiences. This leaves them poorly equipped for school as they have not been able to develop reasoning and problem-solving skills
1.2.2 Bereiter and Engelmann consider the language spoken by low-income black American families as inadequate for educational success. They see it as ungrammatical, disjointed and incapable of expressing abstract ideas.
1.2.3 There has been concern that children who don't speak English at home may be held back educationally. However, in 2010, pupils with English as their first language were only 3 . 2 points ahead of those whose first language was not English when it came to gaining five GCSE A* - C passes. David Gillborn and Heidi Safia Mirza (2000) note that Indian pupils do well despite often not having English as their home language.
1.3 Attitudes and values
1.3.1 Cultural deprivation theorists see a lack of motivation as a major cause of failure for many black children. Most children are socialised into the mainstream culture that equips them for success. However, cultural deprivation theorists claim that some black children are socialised into a subculture that instils a fantalistic, 'live for today' attitude that does not value education and leaves them unequipped for success.
1.4 Family structure and parental support
1.4.1 The failure to socialise children adequately is the result of a dysfunctional family structure. Daniel Moynihan (1965) argues that because many black families are headed by a lone mother, their children are deprived of adequate care because she has to struggle financially in the absence of a male breadwinner. The father's absence also means that boys lack an adequate role model of male achievement. Moynihan sees cultural deprivation as cycle where inadequately socialised children from unstable families go on to fail at school and become inadequate parents themselves.
1.4.2 Charles Murray (1984) argues that a high rate of lone parenthood and lack of positive male role models lead to the underachievement of some minorities.
1.4.3 Roger Scruton (1986) sees the low achievement levels of some ethnic minorities as resulting from a failure to embrace mainstream British culture.
1.4.4 Ken Pryce (1979) sees family structure as contributing to the underachievement of black Caribbean pupils in Britain. He compared black and Asian pupils and claimed that Asians are higher achievers because their culture is more resistant to racism and gives them a greater sense of self worth. Black Caribbean culture is less resistant to racism, so many black pupils have low self-esteem and consequently underachieve. Pryce argues that the experience of slavery was culturally devastating for black people. Being transported and sold into slavery meant that they lost their language, religion and entire family system. However, Asian family structures, languages and religions were not destroyed by colonial rule.
2.1 Sewell: fathers, gangs & culture
2.1.1 Tony Sewell (2009) argues that it is not the absence of fathers as role models that leads to black boys underachieving. Instead, Sewell sees the problem as a lack of fatherly nurturing or 'tough love' (firm, fair, respectful and non-abusive discipline). This results in black boys finding it hard to overcome the emotional and behavioural difficulties of adolescence. In the absence of the influence of a nurturing father, street gangs of other fatherless boys offer black boys 'perverse loyalty and love'. These present boys with a media inspired role model of anti-school black masculinity. Chris Arnot (2004) describes their ideal as 'the ultra-tough ghetto superstar, an image constantly reinforced through rap lyrics and MTV videos'. Many black boys are thus subject to powerful anti-educational peer group pressure. Most of the academically successful boys that Sewell interviewed stated that the greatest barrier to success was pressure from other boys. Speaking in Standard English and doing well in school were often viewed with suspicion by their peers and seen as 'selling out' to the white establishment. Sewell states that black students do worse than Asians because of cultural differences in socialisation and attitudes to education. While one group is being nurtured by MTV, the other is clocking up the educational hours. He believes that black boys must have greater expectations placed on them to raise their aspirations.
2.1.2 Nonetheless, Gillborn (2008) states that it is not peer group pressure but institutional racism within the education system itself that systematically produces the failure of many black boys.
2.2 Asian families
2.2.1 Tony Sewell believes that Indian and Chinese pupils benefit from supportive families that have an 'Asian work ethic' and place a high value on education. Ruth Lupton (2004) argues that adult authority in Asian families is similar to the model that operates in schools. She found that respectful behaviour towards adults was expected from children. Parents were therefore more likely to be supportive of school behaviour policies.
2.3 White working-class families
2.3.1 Andrew McCulloch (2014) did a survey of 16,000 pupils and found that ethnic minority pupils were more likely to aspire to go to university than white British pupils. This low level of aspiration and achievement may be a result of the lack of parental support.
2.3.2 Ruth Lupton studied four mainly working-class primary schools - two predominantly white, one serving a largely Pakistani community and one ethnically mixed. She found that teachers reported poorer levels of behaviour and discipline in the white working-class schools - despite the fact that they had fewer children on free school meals. Teachers blamed this on lower levels of parental support and the negative attitude that white working-class parents had towards education. Ethnic minorities were more likely to see education as a way of 'moving up in society'.
2.3.3 Gillian Evans (2006) argues that street culture in white working-class areas can be brutal. Young people learn to withstand intimidation and intimidate others. Therefore, school can become a place where the power games that young people engage in are acted out again, bringing disruption and making it difficult for pupils to succeed.
2.4 Compensatory education
2.4.1 Compensatory education was adopted to tackle cultural derivation. The aim of Operation Head Start in the USA was to compensate children for the cultural deficit they are said to suffer because of deprive backgrounds. Critics of the cultural deprivation theory oppose compensatory education because they see it is an attempt to impose the dominant white culture on children who already have a coherent culture of their own. They propose two alternatives Multicultural education: a policy that recognises and values minority cultures and includes them in the curriculum. Anti-racist education: a policy that challenges the prejudice and discrimination that exists in schools and wider society.
3.1 Geoffrey Driver (1977) states that the cultural deprivation theory ignores the positive effects of ethnicity on achievement.
3.1.1 The black Caribbean family provides girls with a positive role model of strong independent women. This is why black girls tend to be more successful than black boys.
3.2 Errol Lawrence (1982) argues that black pupils do not underachieve because of low self-esteem, but because of racism.
3.3 Nell Keddie sees cultural deprivation as a victim blaming explanation. Ethnic minority children are culturally different, not culturally deprived. They underachieve because schools are ethnocentric.

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