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Social reproduction

Social reproduction explains how wealth and poverty often pass from one generation to the next. Rich families have financial, social, and cultural capital, which can create opportunities and advantages. The educational system may reinforce this by valuing the culture and social networks of the wealthy more, potentially perpetuating social inequality. Created by Arshya Vahabzadeh.

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  • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user Ashlie Bloom
    What is the difference between Social Reproduction and Intergenerational Mobility?
    (8 votes)
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    • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user spencersck
      Hey Ashlie, so at social reproduction is defined as the reproduction of social inequalities throughout generations. From previous videos intergenerational mobility is defined as the change in social status between individuals within the same family. So really, social reproduction is an example of a system in which there is very little intergenerational mobility! Hope that helps!
      (39 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user Myki Lee
    You mentioned that the educational system values culture of the upper-class; doesn't this mean that the educational system simply helps to provide an opportunity for the lower-class to learn about these so-called "upper-class values"? I'm a little unclear about how the educational system helps to reinforce the upper and middle class, and serves to undermine the lower class?
    (4 votes)
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    • leafers sapling style avatar for user swede
      Well think about coming to class and already knowing something about "upper class values" this class will be easier for you! Follow this up with a family that reinforces what you are learning in school and who are able to provide you with support. This will help you learn things faster and achieve better grades. Better grades will segregate you into higher classes and provide you with more college opportunities.

      However, if your family is not aware or don't care for "upper class values" you will not have had the previous exposure and will have to work harder to obtain the same base knowledge plus new knowledge that is taught in class. The "upper class values" may seem irrelevant to you because no one in your network are using them so why learn it? Additionally, your family might not be able to provide you with support in case you are struggling because these are not their values. This can lead you to achieve a lower grade, which lowers your opportunity for college etc.

      Yet, not having "upper class values" does not reflect your ability to learn, problem solve, be artistic, or your intellect, but schools are segregating simply because you don't know the right values which leads to social reproduction.
      (36 votes)
  • old spice man green style avatar for user adam kim
    if educational systems value high social capital and high cultural capital, then wouldn't that mean that mean that it teaches the poor about the culture of the rich? this seems like it would give equal footing to the poor since it gives them a chance to learn about the wealthy culture
    (2 votes)
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  • duskpin tree style avatar for user Samuel.K.Smith100
    You never mentioned that those with more financial wealth can afford private schools, private tuition, the best uni's.
    Another key thing missing is that the rich can pass on their wealth. They can give their businesses to their children. They can inherit millions or billions.
    (4 votes)
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  • female robot grace style avatar for user Eda Fenercioglu
    You say the education system's preference for high/middle class cultural capital reinforces social reproduction, but isn't it the opposite? Doesn't encouraging and promoting culture of the lower class (like graffiti) actually reinforce social reproduction? The poor will continue pursuing the same habits this way.
    (1 vote)
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  • purple pi purple style avatar for user elizabeth erbes
    At you discuss how a child's knowledge of graffiti in their neighborhood or in general is not considered relevant in our education system, do you believe that an artist like Banksy could or is changing or giving relevance to graffiti at least in the art world, if not in our education system.
    (1 vote)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Andrew Mann
    the experiences you describe at are pretty much exclusively upper class experiences, not middle class.
    (0 votes)
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  • leaf red style avatar for user The lady DeadPool
    Do they mean sexual reproduction? or cell reproduction?
    (0 votes)
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Video transcript

- [Voiceover] There remains a huge amount of social inequality between rich families and poor families. One of the things that we know is that this large social inequality between the rich and families with much more resources, and the poor elements of society seems to replicate itself across generations. So if we label this first group, "Generation one," and the second group, "Generation two," a large group of people who have rich parents tend to end up pretty wealthy themselves. And people who had poorer parents tend to end up poor. This is actually a process that's called "Social Reproduction." And what social reproduction means is that we are reproducing the social inequality across generations. There must be reasons to help explain what's happening. One of the things that we see that wealthy families have is all these dollars here. They have a lot of what's called "Financial Capital." The useful thing about financial capital, and capital suggests that when someone has it they can invest in something and get some returns, The good thing about financial capital is you can invest it into other things. You can invest it and obtain what's called "Social Capital." And essentially what social capital means is building up reliable, useful social networks, networks of trustworthy, useful connections. >From those connections you can really obtain opportunities and advantages in society. The other thing that financial capital can expose you to is something called "Cultural Capital." What cultural capital is talking about is a few different things. So, for example, if your parents are regularly exposing you to trips abroad and you may be learning foreign languages, such as French. They may be taking you to movies, to the theater. You could have a fine appreciation of classical music, for example. You may know all the social nuances of the local golf club, know how to play polo, know how to do the things that many middle-class and upper-class children know how to do, and have those experiences. You may also have cultural items within your house, such as paintings, portraits and other cultural artifacts, and you may know a lot about them. Your parents will clue you in. And both those things, social capital and cultural capital, they're capital. So with this understanding you may gain some rewards. Part of that reward is that these two processes, these two capitals, can actually turbo-charge this social reproduction. But, hold on a second. Even if someone is really poor, won't they have social capital? They will certainly have social networks, and they will certainly have culture, and cultural experiences. But I'm gonna bring something else into this mix. I'm gonna bring something that you would think would help to break all of this up. I'm gonna bring our educational system in. Because one of the things you can say to me is that, hold on, doesn't our educational system give the poor a chance to break out of poverty and the rich, they presumably get a good education anyway, right? Doesn't it give a chance to kind of shake up the system, put everyone on an equal footing? Think about this. Does our educational system value the culture of people from the lower classes as much as the culture of the people who have got much more resources, may come from the higher classes or more privileged classes? For an example of this will be graffiti. If a child knows all about the graffiti in their local neighborhood, I'm not too sure our educational system would care as much about that as it would fine art. What we may find is that educational system really doesn't value the culture and the social networks of the poorer population, or the less advantaged population. But what it does is really values the cultural capital and social capital of the more wealthy people. So, in fact, our educational system can be reinforcing this social stratification that we see here. The children of rich parents are more likely to be wealthy themselves, and the children of poorer parents are more likely to be, to stay poor, compared to their richer peers. So actually our educational system may be reinforcing social reproduction. Now obviously, a lot of this may be controversial and people may argue against it. And there are a lot of different variations and other, and aspects to consider. But this is just a brief overview of social reproduction.