The incorporation of Pierre Bourdieu’s work into what is loosely termed the ‘Marxist perspective’ within Anglo-Saxon sociology of education is doubtless one reason for the steady growth of his reputation. This has been a highly selective process, as Annette Kuhn has already pointed out in Screen Education,1 and it is in a popularised and often distorted form that many of his concepts – ‘cultural capital’, ‘symbolic violence’, ‘mis-recognition’ – have passed into everyday sociological speech. Also, the stress on works such as Reproduction in Education, Culture and Society (written in collaboration with J.-C. Passeron) has been at the expense of other equally important texts like the Outline of a Theory of Practice, where the theoretical premises of Bourdieu’s theory of cultural reproduction can be found.2 In part, this emphasis may reflect the strict division of academic labour in this country between sociology proper and anthropological analysis. In the Outline, Bourdieu draws upon a study of the Kayble society in Algeria to analyse, among other features, the nature of primary pedagogy in a non-literate society where early education takes place within the familial and community environment. Reproduction, although it too is concerned to relate symbolic classifications and cultural forms to the social structure and its power relations, concentrates on the mechanisms of social and cultural reproduction within institutionalised education in an advanced capitalist social formation. (Specifically, it investigates the role of the high-status arts faculties in French universities.)

This difference also suggests another reason for the neglect of the Outline. The central theme in sociological critiques of education tends to be the relationship between institutional schooling and the social division of labour – in particular, the extent to which formal education contributes to the reproduction of the class structure and the labour force. Informal and, in particular, domestic pedagogic work are given far less attention. Furthermore, the reproduction of the sexual division of labour is relegated to the family as a separate ideological (state) apparatus; schooling contributes to this only through a process of confirmation. In treating these factors as ‘secondary’, such critiques often attribute to the sexual division of labour a minor role in the formation of social inequalities and identities. Sexual oppression (when not wholly neglected) tends to be subsumed into the broader context of economic exploitation,

thus avoiding the need to explain how particular forms of patriarchal relations operate within specific modes of production. This position would not only find it difficult to incorporate Bourdieu’s anthropological studies; it also has clear limitations for socialists and teachers alike. In the first place, it assumes that any political strategy must concentrate on the abolition of class and relegates sexual oppression to a ‘post-revolutionary’ problem. In the second, in reaction to liberal beliefs, it leads to the argument that education can only play a minor role within such a strategy; economic upheaval and reformation are seen as the necessary conditions for radical social change.