Social Capital and Social Inequality

Today’s extract from the 2nd edition of ‘Dealing with Dilemmas’ (in preparation) is taken from the section which reflects on how the confusions and competing interests and values of Politics (bit P) and politics (flows of power in school communities) create situations experienced as ‘dilemmas’ in the school community where Political / political forces can pull in contrary directions.  This sections is taken from a discussion of social capital:

“Social capital is a vital aspect of a school’s capacity to meet the needs of its students.  The recent tendency in public discourse to conceptualise schooling as a service misunderstands how schools work.  Schools do not provide an educational service in the way that a garage or retailer provide a service, valuable as these services are.   Like other public services such as health, education is a jointly constructed project, undertaken in a partnership of child, parent, teacher, school and the wider community.  The narrow ‘service’ conceptualisation of the work of schools both masks the inequalities across our communities that are highlighted by the concept of ‘social capital’ and denies the agency of the others involved.  Addressing inequalities in schooling is not just a question of improving individual schools, as so many involved in the public political management of education appear to think; it is even more a question of addressing inequalities in society at large.”



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