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IOE at 120: knowledge, power and social class – a closer look at the Sociology of Education, 1972-1982

Blog Editor, IOE Digital17 August 2022

Basil Bernstein, Professor of the Sociology of Education, 1967-90; Karl Mannheim Chair of Sociology of Education, 1983-90.

Basil Bernstein, Professor of the Sociology of Education, 1967-90; Karl Mannheim Chair of Sociology of Education, 1983-90.

This blog is the eighth in a series of 12 exploring each decade in IOE’s history in the context of the education and society of the times. Find out more about our 120th anniversary celebrations on our website, and follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn to keep up with everything that’s happening. 

Michael Young.

The 1970s was a period of change and excitement but ultimate disappointment for sociologists of education. Internal divisions within the field and external political developments would change the discipline irrevocably. This meant that the work of IOE’s most eminent scholar, Basil Bernstein, would only later enjoy the influence it deserved.

In 1965 Basil Bernstein was promoted to be the first Professor of the Sociology of Education at IOE, and those of us who subsequently joined his department hoped that his highly original research on social class and language codes might be the basis for how the discipline would develop. However, for all its theoretical sophistication, his early work on language became, at best, an outrider to the peculiarly English obsession with the educability of working-class children and its correlation with their persistent low attainment at school. Despite Bernstein’s own powerful (more…)

Michael Young: fighting for working class students’ access to knowledge

Blog Editor, IOE Digital16 October 2018

John Morgan. 
The Guardian Education section last week published a profile of Michael Young, Professor of the Sociology of Education at UCL. Its author, Peter Wilby, charts what he saw as Young’s dramatic shift from countercultural figure on the educational left to alleged supporter of Michael Gove’s narrow view of the National Curriculum.
Wilby reverts to what has been described as the default settings of educational discourse in England, whereby to be in favour of the dissolution of subject boundaries is to be “progressive”, whilst to be in favour of strong subject boundaries is seen to be at best “traditional”, and at worst, “Conservative”. This could not be further from the truth. As Wilby acknowledges, Michael Young has always sought to advance the socialistcause in education.
The fact that he (more…)