Inheriting Possibility: Social Reproduction and Quantification in Education

Inheriting Possibility: Social Reproduction and Quantification in Education

by Ezekiel J. Dixon-Roman

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How has the dominant social scientific paradigm limited our understanding of the impact of inherited economic resources, social privilege, and sociocultural practices on multigenerational inequality? In what ways might multiple forces of social difference haunt quantitative measurements of ability such as the SAT? Building on new materialist philosophy, Inheriting Possibility rethinks methods of quantification and theories of social reproduction in education, demonstrating that test performance results and parenting practices convey the impact of materially and historically contingent patterns of differential possibility.

Ezekiel J. Dixon-Román explores the dualism of nature and culture that has undergirded theories of inheritance, social reproduction, and human learning and development. Research and debate on the reproduction of power relations have rested on a premise that nature is made up of fixed universals on which the creative, intellective, and discursive play of culture are based. Drawing on recent work in the physical and biological sciences, Dixon-Román argues that nature is culture. He contends that by assuming a rigid nature/culture binary, we ultimately limit our understanding of how power relations are reproduced. 

Through innovative analyses of empirical data and cultural artifacts, Dixon-Román boldly reconsiders how we conceptualize the processes of inheritance and approach social inquiry in order to profoundly sharpen understanding and address the reproducing forces of inequality.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781517901264
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
Publication date: 08/01/2017
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Ezekiel J. Dixon-Román is associate professor of social policy in the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania. He is coeditor of Thinking Comprehensively About Education.

Table of Contents



Introduction: Enumerating Difference beyond Anthropocentrism

1. Inheriting Possibility: Quantum Anthropologies and the Forces of Inheritance

2. Cultural Studies and Quantification: Toward a Diffractive Methodology

3. Parenting Performativities: Assemblages of “Difference” and the Material-Discursive Practices of Parenting

4. Inheriting Merit: The SAT as an Institutionalized Measuring Apparatus for Social Immobility

Conclusion: Enfolding Possibilities

Appendix A: Quantitative Methods and Results for Chapter 3

Appendix B: Quantitative Methods and Results for Chapter 4





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