Not available in 2013/14
AN468      Half Unit
The Anthrology of Schooling

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Stuart Thompson.


This course is available on the MSc in Anthropology and Development, MSc in Anthropology and Development (Management), MSc in China in Comparative Perspective, MSc in Law, Anthropology and Society and MSc in Social Anthropology. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


Students taking this course should have completed an introductory course in social anthropology, or in some other social science, 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 seminars in the LT. 1 hour of lectures and 1 hour of seminars in the ST.

Formative coursework

Anthropology students doing this course will submit an essay to their academic advisors. Non-anthropology students will choose a topic in consultation with the course teacher, and submit a formative essay

Indicative reading

Madan Sarup 1983 Marxism/Structuralism/Education: Theoretical Developments in the Sociology of Education Lewes: The Falmer Press;
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.


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: Anthropology

Total students 2012/13: Unavailable

Average class size 2012/13: Unavailable

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information