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Using Material from Item a and Elsewhere, Assess the View That Ethnic Differences in Achievement Are Primarily the Result of Home Background Factors

In: Social Issues

Submitted By confidentclown
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It is the common belief that home background factors affect achievement for people of different ethnicities; the belief is that White and Asian people achieve higher than black people. Home background factors consist of Cultural and Material deprivation.

Cultural deprivation (CD) means inadequate socialisation in the home, this means that children who are culturally deprived lack the correct norms and values needed for educational success. CD can be broken down into 3 aspects, intellectual and linguistic skills, attitudes and values and family structure.
Many CD sociologists see a lack of intellectual and linguistic as a major barrier to achievement in education, this is because a lack of these skills will slow development of reasoning skills, which can disadvantage the student. Bereiter and Engelmann consider the language used by black American families on low income as “inadequate for educational success”. Similarity, Bowker identifies their lack of Standard English as a barrier to education and integration in wider society.
Most CD theorists see a lack of motivation as a key barrier to progress in educational achievement in black children compared to white or Asian children; who are instilled with ambition and a willingness to achieve thanks to the mainstream culture they are brought up in.
Family structure varies greatly between ethnic groups, Ken Pryce argues that Asians are higher achievers because their culture is more resistant to racism and gives them a greater sense of self worth, whereas Black pupils have low self esteem due to racism and as such they achieve less in education. Driver and Ballard argue that Asian family structures are more positive to wards education and have higher aspirations for their children so they achieve more. Moynihan for example, states that a lone mother heads many black families and as such her children are deprived of adequate care due to financial pressure, this then becomes a cycle these children fail at school then have children who grow up with the same attitudes and values. However, white working class children under-achieve and have lower aspirations, Lupton found that this was due to lack of parental support.
However, Geoffrey Driver criticises CD theorists for ignoring the positive aspects of ethnicity on achievement, and argues that black Caribbean families provide girls with a positive role model to go on to be an independent woman. Furthermore, Lawrence challenges Pryce’s view that black people fail because of their culture and low self esteem, he says they fail due to racism from wider society as well as teachers.

However, Material Deprivation (MD) can also lead to under achievement in education. MD means the lack of physical necessities that are seen as essential or normal for life in today’s society. As a general rule, the working class and ethnic minorities are more likely to face MD and poverty. According to Flaherty, 15% of ethnic minorities live in overcrowded households, and ethnic minority workers are more likely to be engaged in shift work. Furthermore, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are three times more likely to be in the poorest fifth of the overall population. This means that Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are more likely to achieve less in education to compared to White and Indian people due to their lower class standing.
However; Gillborn and Mirza argue social class counts for over 50% of the difference in educational achievement, and that when pupils of the same social class but different ethnicity are compared, there are differences in achievement.

To conclude, home background factors are primarily the main cause of ethnic differences in achievement. However, Cultural deprivation can be much more damaging to a persons self esteem and affect their motivation whereas Material deprivation creates differences between ethnicities but is more associated with class differences rather than ethnic differences.

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