Social Class and Social Action: The Middle-Class Bias of Democratic Theory in Education
by Aaron Schutz — 2008
Background: This article examines the emergence of the middle and working classes in America and describes key characteristics of these cultures as they manifest themselves today. It then explores the effects of social class on our conceptions of democracy.
Purpose: To help educators understand the relationship between social action strategies and social class in American society.
Conclusions: Middle-class educators tend to prefer a form of “discursive democracy” that focuses on the enhancement of individuality within group activity. In contrast, working-class people are more likely to embrace a strategy of collective action that I call “democratic solidarity,” which responds to the limited resources and cultural practices specific to working-class life.
Recommendations: Educators who seek to support working-class students in their efforts to resist oppression must better understand the limitations of our tendency to focus on discursive democracy to the exclusion of forms of democratic solidarity.
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