Social class is an enduring fact of life in most societies, intricately connected to educational institutions, processes, and outcomes. This entry defines and conceptualizes social class, and its connections with education, illustrated with lines of scholarly work during the past 3 decades. In addition, the entry suggests how these connections might explain systematic educational disparities apparent among different social classes.

Social class represents a fundamental dimension of diversity in education, alongside related dimensions, such as race, ethnicity, language, gender, and others discussed in this encyclopedia. By its nature, social class distinguishes groups—and within them, individuals—from one another and assigns differential value to class positioning. Thus, as a system of status rooted in access to material, cultural, and intellectual resources, social class helps construct difference between ...

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