Seven Sims in Seven Days – Day 2: Cultural Deprivation


Cultural deprivation, as an explanation for differences in educational achievement (particularly those of class and ethnicity), is something of a Vampire Theory in the sense that no matter how many times sociologists have tried to kill it off it refuses to die. It is, for example, an explanation that continues to have currency among UK political parties, particularly in terms of ideas about the “differential aspirations” of middle and working class children.

This sim is one I’ve successfully used in the classroom many times – it always promotes a lot of discussion between students and brings the concept of cultural deprivation to life in a way that simply talking about the idea rarely does.

I’ve included quite a bit of background information in the Cultural Deprivation package that:

  • looks at ideas about class, ethnic and gender deprivation as an explanation for differential achievement
  • suggests how contemporary variants of the theory have become embedded in debates about “the underclass”
  • provides a range of information about language codes (from Bernstein to Bourdieu) – the sim focuses on the idea of “language differences” and can be used to illustrate this particular area if it happens to be a part of your Sociology Specification (CIE, for example).

Cultural Capital

If you want to be a bit more adventurous with the sim it can be used to explore ideas about cultural capital through the application and testing of different language codes. Rather than focusing on the concept of deprivation when you run the sim focus instead on the Bourdieu’s concept of cultural capital as an explanation for class differences in educational achievement.

This gives the sim a much wider relevance across different Specifications and is an interesting and evocative way to give students experience of one way cultural capital operates within the school.

There are also a couple of recent posts you might find useful if you decide to use the sim to illustrate cultural capital:

The Rules of the Game looks at University entrance and how cultural capital operates in relation to predicted grades and the personal statement.

The Hidden Rules of Social Class can be linked to the sim in terms of the various ways “hidden class rules” operate in the education system.

Visualising Social Mobility: A Mountain to Climb? provides an opportunity to broaden the debate by looking at a different way of understanding social mobility, particularly as it relates to education.

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