Critical Analysis of the Articles: Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work by Jean Anyon and The Forms of Capital by Pierre Bourdieu

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In today’s society social capital is integrated throughout family’s cultural traditions, social networks and educational policy. In the article, “Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work” by Jean Anyon, she argues the education system in America today reinforces the social inequalities we currently face (Anyon, 1980.) While in a different article, “The Forms of Capital,” by Pierre Bourdieu, he argues there are three different types of capital including: economic, social and cultural that predisposes citizens for their social mobility later in life (Bourdieu, 1986). Both articles look at the relationship between human capital and social mobility and its effects on American social classes.

In the chapter, Bourdieu argues that within the umbrella of capital, there are three integrated categories that make up a person’s position in life: economic, social and cultural. After explaining what capital is, Bourdieu walks through the three subsets including: economic capital, which is the physical assets that make up an individuals’ wealth. Social capital on the other hand, is made up of the networks a person has, whether they are institutionalized or not. Last, cultural capital has to do with a person’s education that gives them an advantage to make more money. While within cultural capital, Bourdieu highlights three subsets: embodied, objectified and institutionalized and explains how a persons’ capital is moved from one to another (Bourdieu, 1986). Overall, the purpose of this article is to highlight how an individuals’ social positon and their means to achieve a different class is based on their economic, social and cultural predispositions and further relates to the education system in America today.

While Bourdieu briefly touches on the academic achievement of individuals in different social classes, Anyon’s argument is focused on how an individuals’ social class and capital is a product of the ‘hidden curriculum’ within a specific school system. Unlike Bourdieu, Anyon describes ones’ social class as a mobile process that is “not a fixed, inherited positon” (Anyon, 1980, 71). Anyon supports her theory by observing five different schools—all of different social classes-- within the state of New Jersey.

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Through her observation, she analyzed the schools’ curriculum, teaching styles, resources and the goals for the school and correlates it to the demographic of families attending. Anyon concluded that there is a need for more observation to be held, but with her data, she argues the “hidden curriculum” in the school system has set up children to be productive in the tasks their current social class would require them to be (Anyon,1980). Further, the way students are taught will reflect their current capital and social positions (Anyon, 1980).

Unlike Anyon’s specific observable data, Bourdieu takes a more theoretical approach to his arguments. Throughout the chapter, his examples are based on past theories and historical facts that support the ideas of capital. For an example, Bourdieu explains how cultural capital is acquired by using Greek jurists and their history as an example of how capital is transferred from one family to the next (Bourdieu, 1986, 49.) Bourdieu’s chapter is organized well and helps the readers understand how the integration of different types of capital is fluid and can be transferred from one type to another.

While I believe Bourdieu has significant applications to the US’s education system, I believe this article was too theoretical to be applicable today. For an example, Bourdieu frequently explains the relationship between economic investment and academic achievement, but does not use anecdotal experiences or real-world applicable knowledge, leaving the readers confused with the theory at hand (Bourdieu, 1986, 48). While the paper is too theoretical, his theory itself has limitations too. Throughout the chapter, the theory on capital is solely based on individual’s dispositions already, but neglects to think about an individuals’ willingness to change their social class in the first place.

While Bourdieu uses theory to explain his arguments, Anyon utilizes observable data to explain hers. Anyon organizes her articles by walking through the five individual schools she observed. With this organization, the readers are able to directly compare the difference between schools and the implications of how the school system works. Anyon’s goal of this article was to exemplify how social classes are reinforced within the education system in America by the teaching styles, resources and goals of the class. I believe Anyon’s article was clear on its’ purpose and her argument was strong based on the data she compiled. Within the five schools, she also saw multiple classrooms in order to cross-reference it to the data already collected.

However, although Anyon has significant data already, she notes there are limitations within the study. In order to make further implications between the relationship of the school systems and economic inequalities in America, Anyon notes further research will have to be done (Anyon, 1980, 91). However, I believe Anyon’s article is a good start to understanding why the economic inequalities exist and how the education system in America plays a part.

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Critical Analysis of the Articles: Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work by Jean Anyon and The Forms of Capital by Pierre Bourdieu. (2020, December 24). WritingBros. Retrieved May 27, 2024, from https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/critical-analysis-of-the-articles-social-class-and-the-hidden-curriculum-of-work-by-jean-anyon-and-the-forms-of-capital-by-pierre-bourdieu/
“Critical Analysis of the Articles: Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work by Jean Anyon and The Forms of Capital by Pierre Bourdieu.” WritingBros, 24 Dec. 2020, writingbros.com/essay-examples/critical-analysis-of-the-articles-social-class-and-the-hidden-curriculum-of-work-by-jean-anyon-and-the-forms-of-capital-by-pierre-bourdieu/
Critical Analysis of the Articles: Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work by Jean Anyon and The Forms of Capital by Pierre Bourdieu. [online]. Available at: <https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/critical-analysis-of-the-articles-social-class-and-the-hidden-curriculum-of-work-by-jean-anyon-and-the-forms-of-capital-by-pierre-bourdieu/> [Accessed 27 May 2024].
Critical Analysis of the Articles: Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work by Jean Anyon and The Forms of Capital by Pierre Bourdieu [Internet]. WritingBros. 2020 Dec 24 [cited 2024 May 27]. Available from: https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/critical-analysis-of-the-articles-social-class-and-the-hidden-curriculum-of-work-by-jean-anyon-and-the-forms-of-capital-by-pierre-bourdieu/
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