A Bernsteinian view of learning and teaching undergraduate sociology-based social science

Monica McLean, Andrea Abbas, Paul Ashwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

177 Downloads (Pure)


Taking a perspective drawn from Basil Bernstein, the paper locates itself at the boundary between teaching as transmitting disciplinary knowledge and teaching as a set of generic ‘good practice’ principles. It first discusses the value of undergraduate sociology-based social science knowledge to individuals and society. This discussion leads to highlighting the importance of pedagogical framing for realising the value of sociological knowledge. A longitudinal three-year study in four different status universities suggested that studying undergraduate sociology-based degrees can give students access to what Bernstein called ‘pedagogic rights’ of personal enhancement; social inclusion; and political participation. Access to the rights is through the formation of a ‘specialised disciplinary identity’ whereby the student becomes a person who knows and understands specific content, which is applied to lives and society, and who has developed the skills and dispositions of a social scientist. In pedagogical terms more evidence of equality than inequality was found: despite some subtle differences, whatever the status of the university attended, the same disciplinary identity was projected and students’ perceptions of the quality of their teaching strongly mediated the formation of a disciplinary identity and access to pedagogic rights.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-44
Number of pages12
JournalEnhancing Learning in the Social Sciences (ELiSS)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


  • Students
  • Learning
  • Basil Bernstein
  • Inequality
  • Pedagogy
  • Pedagogic Rights
  • pedagogic identity


Dive into the research topics of 'A Bernsteinian view of learning and teaching undergraduate sociology-based social science'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this