Not available in 2013/14
AN268      Half Unit
The Anthropology of Schooling

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Stuart Thompson


This course is available on the BA in Anthropology and Law, BA in Social Anthropology and BSc in Social Anthropology. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.


Undergraduates taking this course should have completed an introductory course in social anthropology unless granted exemption by the teacher.

Course content

This course looks at ethnographical and cross-cultural approaches to schooling, language and literacy, and critically examines key theoretical approaches from an anthropological perspective. We will begin by reflecting on students' own conceptions of education, situating these in terms of contemporary paradigms and debates. Next we will examine the efficacy of 'reproduction' and 'resistance' theories of education, and the spread of schooling as a crucial parameter of globalization. Attention will then be paid to schooling and attendant questions of identity, and the cultural production of the educated person. This is followed by a critical examination of bilingual education, racism in education, debates over 'literacy' or 'literacies', and, relatedly, a critical examination of the language(s) of schooling and a radical re-deployment of Hirsch's notion of 'cultural literacy'. The course concludes with looking at higher education initially by attention to Bourdieu's Homo Academicus, and assessing how 'cultural capital' and the so-called 'audit culture' impacts on conditions of knowledge and involvement in university education.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the ST.

Formative coursework

Anthropology students taking this course will have the opportunity to submit a tutorial essay for this course to their academic tutors. For non-Anthropology students taking this course, a formative essay may be submitted to the course teacher.

Indicative reading

Paul Willis 1977 Learning to Labour: How Working Class Kids Get Working
Class Jobs New York: Columbia University Press
Marcelo M. Suarez-Orozco & Desiree Baolian Qin-Hilliard (eds.) 2004
Globalization. Culture and Education in the New Millennium Berkeley:
University of California Press
Deborah Reed-Danahay 1996 Education and Identity in Rural France: the
Politics of Schooling Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Bradley A. Levinson, Douglas E. Foley, & Dorothy C. Holland (eds.) 1996
The Cultural Production of the Educated Person. Critical Ethnographies of
Schooling and Local Practice New York: State University of New York Press

Ofelia Garcia 2009 Bilingual Education in the 21st Century. A Global
Perspective Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell
Glen Peterson 1998 The Power of Words: Literacy and Revolution in South
China, 1949-95 Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press
Shirley Brice Heath and Brian V. Street 2008 Ethnography: Approaches to
Language and Literacy Research New York: Teachers College Press
Veronique Benei 2008 Schooling Passions. Nation, History, and Language in
Contemporary Western India Stanford: Stanford University Press
David Gillborn 1995 Racism and Antiracism in Real Schools Buckingham:
Open University Press
John Conteh, Eve Gregory, Chris Kearney and Aura Mor-Sommerfeld (eds.) 2005
On Writing Educational Ethnographies: the art of collusion Stoke on
Trent: Trentham Books


Exam (70%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (30%, 2500 words) in the LT.

The assessed essay must be between 2,000 – 2,500 words in length.

Key facts

Department: Anthropology

Total students 2012/13: Unavailable

Average class size 2012/13: Unavailable

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information