Mind the Gap

Project summary

Exploring the differences in access to social and cultural capital between advantaged and disadvantaged children (a UK/USA Comparison)

The educational attainment gap illustrates the differences in academic outcomes attained by economically advantaged and disadvantaged children. The gap is evident when children begin school and reaches 19.3 months by the end of secondary school. The gap illustrates the importance of intervening early to attend to the learning needs of disadvantaged students. One possible avenue for such an intervention relates to the access to social and cultural capital provided by one’s interpersonal connections and social environments. Adopting a ‘capital shortage’ lens spotlights that children from disadvantaged backgrounds can often perform less well in school because the social and cultural capital they acquire through their families/social contacts and experiences can fall short, or stand in tension with, what they require to succeed. In response, the purpose of the project is to employ both capital and network theory to explore the social and cultural capital that might be accessed by advantaged and disadvantaged children and hypothesise what impact any differences will have for key skills, knowledge and behaviours. Furthermore, simulation approaches will enable the research team to examine and demonstrate how access to different network types, or how changes in children’s position within networks, can improve the capital available to them.

Term: Michaelmas 2021


Project investigators

Principal Investigator: Professor Chris Brown (School of Education)
Principal Investigator: Professor Simon James (English Studies)