Schooling in Capitalist America
[or ''Capitalism... bad'']
CHAPTERS 1 & 2
B&G engage in a lengthy analysis of the education system in modern capitalist society (ie the US), faulting liberal educational theory for its failure to recognize the position of the educational system with respect to broader social institutions, namely the economy. They believe that the future of educational theory must be tied in with a 'comprehensive intellectual reconstruction of the role of education in economic life,' which in their work takes the form of Marxist analysis.
What school does is prepare youth psychologically for work, a function which they believe employers are not unaware, nor have they refrained from applying considerable political influence in order to have the educational system produce the kinds of workers they want. B&G root their model on classic tenets of Marxism that would make little sense to repeat here. They believe that education plays a dual role in the social production of surplus value:
1) it increases the productive capacity of workers, and
2) helps defuse and depoliticize the potentially explosive class relations of the production process - thus serving to perpetuate the social, political, and economic conditions through which a portion of the product of labor is expropriated in the form of profits.
Several major implications follow from this model of education:
1) prevailing degrees of economic inequality and types of personal development are defined primarily by the market, property, and power relationships which define the capitalist system;
2) the educational system serves to perpetuate the social relationships from which develop an overall degree of inequality and repressive personal development;
3) there is a close (formal) correspondence between the social relationships which govern personal interactions in the work place and the educational system;
4) although the school system has sometimes served the dominant class interests of profit and political stability, it is an unwieldy and often unpredictable weapon/tool prone to the influence of contradictory external forces;
5) the organization of education evolves and takes on distinct and characteristic forms in response to political and economic struggles associated with the process of capital accumulation, extension of the wage-labor system, and transition from an entrepreneurial to a corporate economy.
B&G believe that past attempts at educational reform have failed because they refuse to call into question the basic structure of property and power in economic life. B&G believe that the key to reform is the democratization of economic relationships: social ownership - thus educational reform is linked to the grand scheme of Marxist solutions, namely -socialism. Despite the fact that education has often been used as a central instrument of liberal reformers, the range of effective educational policy (in the US) has been severely limited by the role of schooling in the production of an adequate labor force in a hierarchically controlled and class-structured production system.
In the eyes of most liberal reformers, education has three functions:
1) integrative: helps integrate youth into various occupational, political, familial, etc adult roles;
2) egalitarian: gives each individual a chance to compete openly for privilege and status; and
3) developmental: promotes the psychic and moral development of the individual.
B&G outline what they believe to be the two dominant traditions of liberal educational theory:
1)The Dewey School: believe that the 3 functions of education are not only compatible, but also mutually supportive; education can promote the natural movement of industrial society toward more fulfilling work, hence bringing its integrative and developmental functions increasingly into a harmonious union.
2) Technocratic-Meritocratic: argues only for compatibility of functions of education; this view is based on a conception of the economy as a technical system where work performance is based on technical competence; inequality of income, power, and status are, consequently, seen as a reflection of the unequal distribution of mental, physical, and other skills
B&G believe that the politics of education are best understood in terms of the need for social control in an unequal and rapidly changing economic order - by providing a means to integrate 'uncouth and dangerous' elements (among others) into the social fabric of American life. Thus education serves to preserve and extent the capitalist order - which consistently provides disproportional advantage to the dominant class.
B&G cite the existence of a dramatic inequality in years of schooling among those of different social backgrounds - the higher the SES, the higher the level of educational attainment (race and sex are also seen as important variables here). B&G also cite evidence suggesting that the differences observed are not based on IQ. The theme of social control pervades educational thought and policy even up to the present and still remains an overriding objective. The power of schooling has traditionally often been invoked to reinforce the moral training of the family or to compensate for a lack of family nurture. B&G note two significant trends that have occurred with respect to the concept of discipline: 1) the once highly personalized authority of the teacher has become part of the bureaucratic structure of modern society; and 2) discipline no longer aims at just (forced) compliance but more on 'behavioral modification' - internalization of behavioral norms.
In examining school grading, B&G find that (issues of IQ aside) a variety of personality variables were significantly and positively related to grades (eg. Citizenship and Drive to Achieve). People high on these two measures also tend to display low levels of creativity and mental flexibility - traits which are directly penalized with respect to grades.
The authors believe that the oppressiveness of the educational system cannot be attributed merely to oversight, indifference, or stupidity. Rather, the 'business methods' in schools meant that administrators were recruited from the ranks of politicians and businessmen rather than professional educators, so that their orientation was toward cost-savings and control rather than the quality of education. Thus the educational system came to even more strongly reflect the hierarchy of authority and privilege in the capitalist system.
In wrapping up this section, B&G state that the failure of progressive educational reforms stems from the contradictory nature of the objectives of its integrative, egalitarian, and developmental functions in a society whose economic life is governed by the institutions of corporate capitalism.
CHAPTER 3: The Root of the Problem: The Capitalist Economy
B&G state that 'the economy produces people' and view the production of commodities as more of a secondary concern. Their critique of the capitalist economy (a Marxian one) furthers their analysis of education insofar as schooling is a crucial people-producing process. One important observation that they stress is the diametrically opposed natures of the (US) political and economic systems:
The Political System is democratic; and its central problems are:
1) insuring maximal participation of the majority in decision-making,
2) protecting minorities against the prejudices of the majority; and
3) protecting the majority against any undue influences on the part of an unrepresentative minority.
The Economic System, on the other hand, is totalitarian, and its main concerns are:
1) insuring the minimal participation in decision-making by the majority (the workers),
2) protecting a single minority (capitalists and managers) against the wills of a majority, and,br> 3) subjecting the majority to the maximal influences of the single unrepresentative minority.
In the interest of not beating a dead horse, suffice it to say that B&G adopt a very straight (orthodox?) Marxist position regarding capitalism: alienation, reserve army of labor, ideologies, state serving the interest of the economic elite - the whole nine yards. As far as education goes, they suggest that major aspects of the structure of schooling can be understood in terms of the systemic needs for producing reserve armies of skilled labor, legitimating, the technocratic-meritocratic perspective, reinforcing the fragmentation of groups of workers into stratified status groups, and accustoming youth to the social relationships of dominance and subordinacy in the economic system. (trans: the student body is the proletariat in training).
Private ownership of the means of production and a market in labor are the most distinctive (and mutually reinforcing) characteristics of the capitalist economy. Owners of the means of production gain tremendous power in situations where there is a large abundance of workers with only their labor to sell and absence of alternative sources of livelihood (like the US). A necessary step in determining how education can prepare people for working in the capitalist economy involves characterizing the social relations of work. B&G make several observations:
1) over + of businesses in the US were small individual proprietorships
2) there are a large number of entrepreneurial enterprises, owned by one or two small capitalists who are often from the same family and employ a number of hired workers
3) there is a large and growing corporate sector - a sector that dominates the American economy and is dominated by a small number of economic giants
4) a sizable state sector showing a rapid rate of growth
5) the important sphere of domestic or household production that comprises about half of all economically active adults.
Since the combined corporate and state sectors employ about 2/3 of all paid workers and are growing at a much faster rate than the labor force as a whole, the contemporary trend in employment points toward increasing dominance of bureaucratically ordered workplaces. Workplaces where regulations are promulgated by management and decision-making and accountability are organized according to the hierarchical division of labor.
B&G outline the history of economic development: from share-cropping and the putting-out system, to the rise of entrepreneurial capital in the early 19th cent., emergence of the factory system and increasing dominance of large-scale manufacture, and the corporate consolidation from 1890-1920. Each step was characterized by increasing intervention into and control over the actual production process by the capitalist (of her/his representatives). Linking the economy to education, B&G suggest that the birth of the factory system fueled the 19C common-school movement which molded mass primary education, while the rise of the corporate economy fostered the 20C Progressive Movement which lent modern secondary education its characteristic stamp.
Although the overall development of the capitalist economy points toward a dual tendency of horizontal extension of the wage labor system and production for profit, and an increasingly sophisticated deepening of hierarchical mechanisms of control, this process was neither complete nor uniform. This unevenness took shape as rapid growth in the corporate and state sectors and stagnation in the spheres if independent, entrepreneurial, and household production led to an unequally distributed ownership of capital and the associated inequalities in both political power and access to economically relevant information. Superiority of resources accumulated in large enterprises afforded superior market power, more complex organization and planning, use of capital-heavy technology, and a stronghold in government that allowed the big firms to drive out small-scale opposition.
Parallel to (and partially a result of) this uneven development of the corporate sector is the uneven development of the capitalist work force. Groups with distinctive social class, racial, ethnic, and sexual characteristics have been historically drawn into the US labor force in successive 'waves.' For instance consecutive waves on new ethnic immigration provided a series of new recruits to fill the lowest occupational slots in the labor hierarchy. This uneven development leads naturally to the segmentation of workers into distinct groups based on their unique historical experiences in the process of integration into the capitalist economy, based on the relative power they have attained in various sectors, on their relative social, racial, ethnic, and sexual cohesiveness, as well as on their differential treatment by employers. The primary segment: predominantly located in the corporate and state sectors; jobs characterized by high wages and job security (possibly through union influence); bureaucratic order and hierarchical division of labor is the rule; education and credentials are important. The secondary segment: low wages, great employment instability and turnover, little unionization; job ladders are few and short; educational credentials are not important for job entry, nor is rate of pay usually based on skill and training.
What about Class? Class is a group of individuals who relate to the production process in similar ways - property relations and relations of control are key. Classes are important because in US society people do not relate to each other as individuals alone, but also as groups. It is important to remember, however, that classes are not homogenous but rather display significant within-class stratification.
Aside from material satisfaction, functions of work include: economic security of the worker, social relationships among workers and most importantly development of the human potentialities of the worker as a social being, a creator, and a master of nature (this is very early-Marx). B&G content that the segmentation and differentiation of the labor force causes different individuals to have different experiences in production, such that they develop distinct cultures, life styles, interest, and ideologies. Social stratification and fragmentation of the working class are, therefore, intimately related to the experience of individuals in production. The authors offer evidence of this strong effect of work on all aspects of life: occupational status and job satisfaction are related to physical and mental health, as well as longevity; work experience is closely tied to type and amount of leisure activity.
And being the good Marxists that B&G are, this section wouldn't be complete without bring up the prevalence of the alienation of labor - not surprising in a socio-economic system where 'most people view their jobs as, at best, a painful necessity.'
Work, Power, and Technology
Again following Marx's lead, B&G believe that alienated labor is not the necessary consequence of modern technology. Why not?
1) even within the confines of existing technologies work could be organized so as to be more productive and more satisfying to workers;
2) technology itself is not the result of a socially unbiased advance of knowledge, but rather reflects the monopolization of control over technical information by the captains of industry;
3) alienated labor is not a technical but an essentially social phenomenon, since labor is not a commodity but a living, active agent.
B&G also address other 'fallacies' about the advances of the modern economy:
Bad Capitalists say... Good Bowles and Gintis say...
BC: The Industrial Revolution's victory of the factory system over traditional work forms demonstrates the efficiency of the hierarchical division of labor in the context of advanced technology
B&G: Success of the factory system was due to tapping cheap labor supplies, extending the work day, and forcing an increase and the pace of work
BD: Fragmentation and routinization of jobs lends, in itself, to increased productivity despite its deleterious effect on worker satisfaction
B&G: The increase in the number of steps in the production process in the context of the modern factory effectively adds spaces between separate tasks adds does not out weigh the benefits supposedly to be had from coordination of steop, increased dexterity and speed, or mechanization of the process.
No other known form of work organization is more productive than the hierarchical division of labor. (I'm not sure what the authors' point here was aside from the fact that the bad capitalists had to be wrong)
In fact, the factory system emerged as the dominant form of production because it was an effective form of economic and social control. The factory system: 1) prevents the individual workers from gaining enough knowledge about the process to go into business for themselves, and 2) provides legitimation for the employer as the coordinator of the production process. The factory system did win out on technical grounds in the end, but only because: capitalist producers had the large amounts of financial resources necessary to make use of the new technology; only large firms with political clout could assure inventors of patent protection for innovations; and inventors allied with capitalist partners or went into business for themselves.
Employers have 3 objectives to keep in mind when pursuing profit and the perpetuation of their class status:
1) technical efficiency: work should be organized to maximize output for the given set of inputs
2) control: decision making power should be retained at the top of the hierarchy; fragmentation of workers at a variety of subordinate levels prevents a solidary workers' interest from forming and challenging their superiors - basically a 'divide and rule' strategy
3) legitimacy: authority relationships must be organized in such a way as to appear just, or at least inevitable; these relations cannot, therefore, violate the norms of the wider society.
The right of the superior to direct must be based on generally held cultural values - often sexual or racial stereotypes, or credentialing. All in all, the hierarchical division of labor maximizes the control of management, increases the accountability of workers by fragmenting jobs and responsibility, and thwarts development of stable coalitions among workers.
Structure of Economic Inequality
B&G support the assertion that the roots of inequality in the US are to be found in the class structure and the system of sexual and racial power relationships. The school system is then but one of several institutions which serve to perpetuate this structure of privilege. Education, while reflecting the structure in privilege in society at large, is relatively powerless to correct the underlying institutionalized economic inequality. Since WWII the level of wealth inequality has remained unchanged. Further, arguments that universalistic criteria for hiring should select for the most qualified applicant regardless of sex, race, etc. seem unconvincing in light of the negligible (modest at best) strides women and racial minorities have made toward economic parity. The segmentation of the labor force, in fact, weakens the power of labor as a whole and acts as an immediate case of much of ht inequality between men and women/whites and blacks/urban- and rural-born/etc. - basically the primary economic sphere is advantaged at the expense of the secondary.
To further promote a picture of an institutional basis of inequality, B&G suggest that an over-emphasis on wage/salary disparity obscures the importance of other aspects of income such as rent, interest, dividends, profits, capital gains, and other benefits of owning property which account for over half of the inequality.
B&G feel that among the most important attributes that serve as occupational 'entrance requirements' in the US are traits acquired at birth and traits acquired through personal development. Given the over-riding concern for profitability (and for the owner perpetuation of class status) in the capitalist economy, several worker characteristics are likely to be used by employers:
1) cognitive capacities and concrete technical and operational skills;
2) personal traits that enable the individual to operate effectively in a work role;
3) modes of self-presentation, which may be valuable to the employers in their efforts to stabilize and legitimize the organization's structure of power as a whole;
4) ascriptive characteristics; and
5) credentials - which the employer may also use to promote legitimacy.
In general, B&G feel that the individual employer, acting singly, normally accepts social values and belief and will violate them only in the interest of long-term financial benefits. The broader prejudices of society are used as a resource by employers in their efforts to control labor. In this way, the pursuit of profits and security of class position reinforces racist, sexist, and credentialist forms of status consciousness. Empirical findings suggest several characteristic of the relation between education (also training) and occupational advantage. Education and training work most effectively in improving economic situation for those who are already economically advantaged - ie. have high status in the economic hierarchy. Next, among 'workers' return to schooling is virtually the same for men and women, whites and blacks. Further, the economic return to schooling depends on class of origin as well as present class status. Finally, an increase in earnings with advancing age is positively related to: being white and/or male; higher levels of education; relative high hierarchical occupational location. Empirical findings also suggest that age significantly affects income independently of job tenure.
CHAPTER 4: Education, Inequality, and the Meritocracy
Continuing the analysis of the previous chapter, B&G here introduce the 'legitimation hypothesis,' which suggests that a major element in the integrative function of education is the legitimation of preexisting economic disparities. The educational system legitimated economic inequality by providing an open, objective, and ostensibly meritocratic mechanism for assigning individuals to unequal economic positions. It fosters and reinforces the belief that economic success depends essentially on the possession of technical and cognitive skills - skills which it is organized to provide in an efficient, equitable, and unbiased manner on the basis of the meritocratic principle. In US economic life, legitimation has been intimately bound up with the technocratic-meritocratic ideology, the hallmark of which is the reduction of a complex web of social relationships in production to a few rules of technological efficiency. The robustness of this meritocratic ideology derives largely from its incorporation into an array of major social institutions - including factories, government, and schools.
The linking of technical skills to economic success indirectly via the educational system strengthens, rather than weakens, the legitimation process:
1) the day-to-day contact of parents and children with the competitive, cognitively-oriented school environment buttresses the technological perspective on economic organizations;
2) the status allocation mechanism acquired heightens legitimacy by rendering educational attainment dependent not just on ability, but also on motivation, drive to achieve, perseverance, and sacrifice; and
3) frequent failures gradually bring a student's aspirations into line with his/her probable career opportunities.
So, through competition, success, and defeat in the classroom, students are reconciled to their social positions. B&G make the point that according to the meritocratic ideal, with the objective of social efficiency, admissions on the basis of test scores and other measures of performance should be justified by the fact that 'smart' people benefit more from college - in terms of increasing cognitive capacities, earnings abilities, and productivity. Evidence, however, points to quite a different reality - return to higher education is independent of prior test scores. The authors wish to stress that the meritocratic orientation of higher education, rather than serving economic rationality, is actually a facade that facilitates the stratification of the labor force.
Education, Income, and Cognitive Attainment:
The traditional technocratic-meritocratic perspective suggests that education increased people's income by increasing an individual's cognitive abilities - which in turn translates into higher productivity and greater income. B&G find that only a minor portion of the substantial statistical association between schooling and economic success can be accounted for by the school's role in producing or screening cognitive sills. They propose a model where 'years of schooling' acts as important mediating variable.<
Education, in effect mitigates indirect effects between: 1) socioeconomic background and adult income/occupational status, and 2) childhood IQ and adult IQ. B&G's argument is that the mental-skill demands of work are sufficiently limited, the skills produced by our educational system sufficiently varied, and the possibilities for acquiring additional skills on the job sufficiently great so that skill differences among individuals who are acceptable for a given job on the basis of their criteria (including race, sex, personality, and credentials) are of little economic importance. Ie. skills are not as important as you think they are, and selection for hiring may well be made in the end on the basis of some other criteria.
Next the dynamic duo turn their attention to dispelling the rumor that intelligence is important in economic success. Their line of though follows much the same line as the previous section. B&G present empirical evidence to support their contention that the emphasis on IQ as the basis for economic success serves to legitimate an authoritarian, hierarchical, stratified, and unequal economic system, and to reconcile individuals to their objective position within this system. After reviewing the various positions surrounding the IQ debate and presenting some (IMOH) dubiously manipulated empirical findings, B&G conclude that the fact that economic success tends to run in the family arises almost completely independently from any inheritance of IQ, whether it be genetic or environmental. Further, a family's position in the class structure is reproduced primarily by mechanisms operating independently of the inheritance, production, and certification for intellectual skills. Long and short: IQ is not an important criterion for economic success
CHAPTER 5: Education and Personal Development
In this chapter B&G ''suggest that major aspects of educational organization replicate the relationships of dominance and subordinancy in the economic sphere. The correspondence between the social relation of school and work accounts for the ability of the educational system to produce an amenable and fragmented labor force. The experience of schooling and not merely the content of formal learning is central to this process.'' If this sounds familiar, it probably should since B&G pretty much make about one or two points over and over and over and over again over the course of the reading.
The reproduction of the social relations of depends on the reproduction of consciousness, the key concern being how it is that people come to accept their present economic and social conditions. B&G believe that the economic system (ie. social relations of production) will be embraced when:
1) The perceived needs of individuals are congruent with the types of satisfaction the economic system can objectively provide - it a harmony between the needs which the social system generates and the means at its disposal for satisfying them.
2) There generally exists in the consciousness of community members the view that fundamental social change is not feasible, unoperational, and utopian. This may come about as a 'divide and conquer' strategy on the part of dominant classes to promote social distinctions that cause a fragmentation of the conditions of life and the consciousness of the subordinate classes. To this latter aspect, B&G link the phenomenon of alienated labor.
Through a variety of institutional relationships, the educational system tailors the self-concepts, aspirations, and social class identifications of individuals to the requirements of the social division of labor. The two main objectives of the dominant classes in educational policy are the production of labor power and the reproduction of those institutions and social relationships which facilitate the translation of labor power into profits.
Educational institutions are structured to meet these objectives in several ways:
1) schooling produces many of the technical and cognitive skills required for adequate job performance
2) the educational system helps legitimate economic inequality- ie. the meritocratic ideal
3) school produces, rewards, and labels personal characteristics relevant to the staffing of positions in the hierarchy
4) the educational system (through the pattern of status distinctions it fosters) reinforces the stratified consciousness on which the fragmentation of subordinate economic classes is bases.
All major institutions (including education) in a 'stable' social system will direct personal development in a direction compatible with its reproduction. The forms of consciousness and behavior fostered by the educational system, therefore, must themselves be alienate, in the sense that they conform neither to the dictates of technology in the struggle with nature, nor to the inherent developmental capacities of the individual, but rather to the needs of the capitalist class.
The Correspondence Principle
The educational system integrates youth into the economic system through a structural correspondence between its social relations and the relations of production. The structure of social relations in education habituates students to the discipline of the workplace, as well as developing types of personal demeanor, modes of self-presentation, self-image, and social class identifications - all of which are crucial to job adequacy. More specifically, the educational structure's vertical authority lines and relations between administrator:teacher, teacher:student, student:student, and student:work replicate the hierarchical division of labor in the economic sector. Alienated labor is also the result in the schooling system. Different levels of education, further, feed workers into different levels within the occupational structure and, correspondingly, tend toward an internal organization comparable to levels in the hierarchical division of labor.
The differences in the social relationships among and within schools, in part, reflects both the social background of the student body and their likely future economic positions. For example working class (and minority) parents seem to favor stricter educational methods, as a reflection of their own work experiences which have demonstrated that submission to authority is an essential ingredient in one's ability to get and hold a steady job.
A study by Binstock isolated several organizational traits consistently related to various educational institutions: behavior control (strict rules and external compliance) v. motivational control (unspecified, variable, flexible task orientation - internalized norms) leader v. follower orientation In re-examining the results of studies by Meyer and Edwards, B&G stress the importance of 'personality factors' (eg. submission to authority, temperament, and internalized control) along with standard meritocratic measures of cognitive performance (eg. the SAT) in predicting educational achievement (grade-point average). Submission to authority, in particular proved to be a relatively strong predictor of grades. Internalized control showed considerably less and temperament showed no predictive utility for grades.
B&G also cite the work of Brenner, who identifies a significant correlation between grades and all measures of supervisor evaluation. After reanalyzing the data and performing various statistical manipulations (ie. controls), B&G find that grades no power to predict either worker conduct or worker productivity. This leads to two conclusions: 1) grades predict job adequacy only through their noncognitive component, and 2) teachers' evaluations of behavior in the classroom are strikingly similar to supervisors' ratings of behavior on the job.
Family Structure and Job Structure
Issue of education aside, family background also accounts for a significant portion of the association between schooling and economic attainment. For instance about 1/3 of the correlation between education and income is due to the common associations of both variables with socioeconomic backgrounds (even holding IQ constant). That is, people whose parents have higher-status economic positions tend to achieve more income themselves independent of their education, but they also receive more education.
The experiences of parents on the job tend to be reflected in the social relations of family life - the family socialization through which children tend to acquire orientations toward work, aspirations, and self concepts, preparing them for similar economic positions themselves. In addition, the family helps to reproduce the sexual division of labor: 1) wives and mothers normally embrace their self-concepts as houseworkers, passing these onto their children through the differential sex role-typing of boys and girls within the family, and 2) children tend to develop self-concepts bases on the sexual divisions which they observe around them. The male-dominated family with its characteristically age-graded patterns of privilege and power, replicates many of the aspects of the hierarchy of production the firm.
Kohn suggests that individuals holding higher- and lower-status jobs value different personality traits and aspects of the job, on the basis of the variable degree of occupational self-direction (including freedom from close supervision, degree of initiative and independent judgment, and complexity and variety of a job) among workers. B&G - never ones to leave well enough alone - see it differently. They thing the Kohn's 'self-direction' is the same as their 'internalized norms.' Even high status workers (who should exercise a considerable degree of 'self-direction') are probably super-socialized so as to internalize authority and act without direct and continuous supervision to implement goals and objectives relatively alienated from their own personal needs.
Returning to the well, yet again, B&G use Kohn's findings - that higher-status parents emphasize their children's self-direction, while working class parents stress conformity to external authority - to support their thesis that correspondence between the relations of economic production and the social relations of various institutions is indicative of a process whereby individuals are prepared to take their appropriate place in the unequal hierarchical division of labor, which they nevertheless come to view as legitimate. You know what they say, 'You can lead a dead horse to water but ...
As a final note on B&G. They are very anxious to portray a view of economic and educational processes that jives with the particular (Marxist) programme they are seeking to promote. While the development of a Marxist perspective on education is certainly something valuable, i.m.h.o. B&G tend to overstate their points and present 'reanalyzed' empirical findings that seem to be quite selectively chosen. And as I mentioned earlier, it seems to me that some of their manipulations of data are not quite kosher, but I'm not sure I can exactly put my finger on all of it since I had a hard time at points trying to figure out just what they were trying to do with their data. For example, it looked like at one point they were trying to show that IQ didn't have an effect on grades by taking the top decile (or something like that) in grades and controlling for IQ in this group. They said there was no significant independent effect of intelligence - duh! Maybe it's just me, but it would seem like there shouldn't be a whole lot of variation in intelligence among just those with top grades (or any within any other similarly narrow category). Also, in the portions of the readings where they deal with correspondence between the relations of production and those of other social institutions, B&G basically stick to a pretty straight correspondence argument. They don't go very far in outlining a causal argument to help explain the correspondence effect - I think that would have make their positions more convincing.