Social reproduction theory argues that schools are not institutions of equal opportunity but mechanisms for perpetuating social inequalities. This review discusses the emergence and development of social reproduction analyses of education and examines three main perspectives on reproduction: economic, cultural, and linguistic. Reproduction analyses emerged in the 1960s and were largely abandoned by the 1990s; some of the conceptual and political reasons for this turning away are addressed. New approaches stress concepts such as agency, identity, person, and voice over the structural constraints of political economy or code, but results have been mixed. Despite theoretical and methodological advances—including new approaches to multilevel analysis and alertness to temporal processes—the difficult problem remains to understand how social inequality results from the interplay of classrooms, schools, and the wider society.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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