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Curriculum, Credentials, and the Middle Class: A Case Study of a Nineteenth Century High School

Опубликовано на портале: 30-01-2003
Sociology of Education. 1986.  Vol. 59. No. 1. P. 42-57. 
This historical case study of a prominent nineteenth-century high school analyzes one example of the development of the hegemonic curriculum. This developmental process hinged on the complex relationship between the high school and its middle-class constituency, a relationship that was mediated by the market in educational credentials. Shaped by bourgeois ideological principles (merit, self-discipline, and utility), the curriculum of the mid-1800s provided the school's middle-class constituents with a valuable form of symbolic wealth: i.e. educational credentials. However, by the 1880s the market in educational credentials changed. Alternative suppliers appeared on the scene, and the middle class began looking beyond a high school diploma to the acquisition of professional credentials. This market pressure forced the high school to revamp its course of study. What emerged was a version of the modern hegemonic curriculum, in which knowledge is stratified, academic, and appropriated through individual competition.