The ‘biographical turn’ in university sociology teaching: a Bernsteinian analysis

McLean, Monica and Abbas, Andrea (2009) The ‘biographical turn’ in university sociology teaching: a Bernsteinian analysis. Teaching in Higher Education, 14 (5). pp. 529-539. ISSN 1356-2517

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13562510903186725

Abstract

Little is known about what happens to disciplinary knowledge when it is taught in contemporary UK universities of different status. Here, Basil Bernstein's theories are applied to what sociology lecturers say about teaching, demonstrating that in conditions in which students are less likely to engage with sociological theory, lecturers, particularly in universities of lower status, employ "biographical methods" to ensure that a "core" of sociology remains intact and sociology is reproduced in students. Students' lives are used as subject matter to teach the relevance and value of sociology. Attention is drawn to how, while this pedagogic strategy might result in a powerless form of "pop sociology", in this case, lecturers bring theory, student research and application into a dynamic relationship which unexpectedly suggests that, at present, sociology might be more easily preserved in the less prestigious universities.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Little is known about what happens to disciplinary knowledge when it is taught in contemporary UK universities of different status. Here, Basil Bernstein's theories are applied to what sociology lecturers say about teaching, demonstrating that in conditions in which students are less likely to engage with sociological theory, lecturers, particularly in universities of lower status, employ "biographical methods" to ensure that a "core" of sociology remains intact and sociology is reproduced in students. Students' lives are used as subject matter to teach the relevance and value of sociology. Attention is drawn to how, while this pedagogic strategy might result in a powerless form of "pop sociology", in this case, lecturers bring theory, student research and application into a dynamic relationship which unexpectedly suggests that, at present, sociology might be more easily preserved in the less prestigious universities.
Keywords:biographical methods, pedagogy, sociology, (in)equality, knowledge
Subjects:L Social studies > L300 Sociology
X Education > X342 Academic studies in Higher Education
Divisions:College of Social Science > Centre for Educational Research & Development (CERD)
ID Code:6995
Deposited By: Andrea Abbas
Deposited On:30 Nov 2012 12:36
Last Modified:04 Dec 2013 18:40

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