Social | Social Science homework help


Case Study

Social class has more effect on children than good parenting

Parents’ social class has a greater impact on how well their children perform at school than “good parenting” techniques such as reading bedtime stories, researchers have shown. A study of 11,000 seven-year-old children found that those with parents in professional and managerial jobs were at least eight months ahead of pupils from the most socially disadvantaged homes, where parents were often unemployed.

The researchers, from the University of London, took into account factors such as ethnicity and family size. They tested the children on skills including reading, maths and listening and analysed their teachers’ assessments. The researchers found that parents’ social class had a bigger influence on a child’s progress between the ages of five and seven than a range of parenting techniques, including reading before bedtime. Alice Sullivan, the main author of the study, said the research showed that “while parenting is important, a policy focus on parenting alone is insufficient to tackle the impacts of social inequalities on children”. “Redistributive economic policies may be more effective than policies directly addressing parenting practices,” she said.

This contradicts comments made by Nick Clegg, then deputy prime minister, who suggested that good parenting could make a bigger difference than class to the destiny of a child. Clegg said: “Parents hold the fortunes of the children they bring into this world in their hands. All parents have a responsibility to nurture the potential in their children. I know, like any mother or father, how difficult it can be to find the time and the energy to help, for example, with your children’s homework at the end of a busy day. But the evidence is unambiguous: if we give them that kind of attention and support when they are young, they will feel the benefits for the rest of their lives.”

Adapted from “Social class has more effect on children than good parenting, study finds” by Jessica Shepherd (


a) Using illustrative examples, identify theories and concepts relevant to the development of the self, explain and demonstrate how the process of socialisation and acquiring a sense of self would be affected by differences in social class. In your answer, please define social class.

(1000 words)


b) With reference to the case study, discuss to what extent you agree with the claim that socioeconomic resources have a greater impact on a child’s development and social identity than parenting practices.

(500 words)

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