Reproduction and Resistance in Canadian High Schools: An Empirical Examination of the Willis Thesis

  • Scott D
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Abstract

The 'Willis thesis' has two component claims. The first is that class inequalities in educational outcomes occur in part through working-class misbehaviour in schools, and that underachievement is associated with male and female forms of gender traditionalism. The second claim is that this misbehaviour constitutes a working-class cultural resistance. In this paper the first component is operationalized and tested in a statistical model of student plans in Ontario, Canada. Results show that misbehaviour is a weak conduit for differential class outcomes, though expected gender patterns emerge. While noting that findings may reflect British/Canadian differences and that recent de-industrialization may mute traditional class-related student responses, I argue that Resistance theorists have over-extended their claims, and that gender, rather than class background, is a more durable source of cultural reproduction through school underachievement.

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Authors

  • Davies Scott

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