Social Indequality In Jay Macleod's Ain 'T No Making'
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Jay MacLeod’s book Ain’t No Making’ It is a treatise on social reproduction theory, that is, the ways in which class inequality is reproduced across generations, and is equally relevant and informative to understanding the cycle of poverty today as it was in 1987 when it was first published. The explanations of the life trajectories of the men studied in this book are especially important in light of the inflamed rhetoric and intense debate that characterize the interactions between the two distinct ideologies that have bifurcated the theorists of educational reform: Economically deterministic theories and the theories emphising the autonomy of the cultural level. Though the attempt of the author is to provide a perspective which allows for the simultaneous existence of the two theories. We will see that neither perspective can be said to be entirely endorsed by the conclusions found in Ain’t No Makin’ It.
Building off previous scholarship of Bowles and Gintis, Bourdieu, Bernstein and Heath, Willis and Giroux, McLeod seeks to investigate the tension between personal agency and structural barriers to social mobility, or in his words, how “class based institutional mechanisms set limits on mobility, thereby ensuring social reproduction, while cultural innovations can be at once both functional and dysfunctional for social reproduction” (pp.152). What he uncovers is that it is in the hidden structures of society that despite personal ambitions and aspirations, on the