The Anthropological Institute, Nanzan University, is pleased to present the First Public Lecture of 2022.
Title: “Social Class and Education in England and Japan: Examining Middle-Class Boys’ Schools”
Lecturer: Robert Aspinall (Doshisha University)
Respondent: Michelle Henault Morrone (Nagoya University of Arts and Sciences)
Moderator: Benjamin Dorman (Nanzan University)
Date/Time: 10 June 2022, 14:00-15:30 Japan Standard Time
Format: Zoom webinar
Please register via this link
Drawing partly on the author’s own experience as a boy and a teacher in England and Japan, this paper is a comparative study of boys’ secondary schools in these two countries. The paper examines the roles these single-sex schools play in preparing boys for their future positions within society. This is an essential part of a process that reproduces social class and gender roles that are taken for granted as being ‘natural’ or ‘common sense’ by most of the boys and their families. By comparing two nations that are very different in their history, culture and geographical location and by focusing on schools that are affordable to the majority of the population, the analysis carried out in this paper removes ability-to-pay, national culture and religion from the equation that connects the class position of a child’s family to the future class position that individual will occupy on completing their fulltime schooling.
The paper includes an overview of the historical development of middle-class boys’ schools in England and Japan, going back to the period of industrialization and the emergence of modern capitalism. By exploring the ways in which middle-class families and schools consciously and actively worked to ensure that each generation will not lose their class status, this study will contribute to the debate surrounding the lack of social mobility in both Japan and England. In fact, well-intentioned reforms in the past 40 years in both nations that have stressed flexibility, individualism and choice have actually increased social divisions. Thanks to the reserves of cultural and social capital they are able to draw on, the middle classes are adept at making the most of the opportunities of advantage that these policies present to them.