© 2018

Education and Working-Class Youth

Reshaping the Politics of Inclusion

  • Robin Simmons
  • John Smyth
  • Emphasises the inherent relationship between education and equality

  • Addresses the contemporary situation and difficulties faced both by the UK and countries further afield

  • Suggests how opportunities can be developed for working-class young people to ensure they have the greatest possible chance for their lives ahead


About this book


This book provides an inclusive and incisive analysis of the experiences of working-class young people in education. While there is an established literature on education and the working class stretching back decades, comparatively there has been something of a neglect of class-based inequality – with questions of gender, ‘race’ and other forms of identity attracting significant attention. However, events including Britain's 2016 decision to leave the European Union, have thrown social class into sharp focus, both in the UK and elsewhere. Featuring leading thinkers in the sociology of education, this book examines the different ways in which young people relate to various parts of the education system, including different forms of schooling, post-compulsory and university education. They maintain that the issue of social class goes beyond the walls of specific institutions to affect young people in a variety of ways: not only in the UK, but across the globe. This book will be of great value and interest to students and scholars of the sociology of education, working-class youth, and equality of opportunity.


Social justice Social mobility Social inequality Educational mobility Widening participation working class in education educational inequality furnace of education inclusion

Editors and affiliations

  • Robin Simmons
    • 1
  • John Smyth
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Education and Professional DevelopmentUniversity of HuddersfieldHuddersfieldUnited Kingdom
  2. 2.School of Education and Professional DevelopmentUniversity of HuddersfieldHuddersfieldUnited Kingdom

About the editors

Robin Simmons is Professor of Education at the University of Huddersfield, UK. His research interests include the sociology of education, educational policy, and education and social justice.

John Smyth is Visiting Professor of Education and Social Justice at the University of Huddersfield, UK. He is also Professor Emeritus at Flinders University, Australia and Federation University, Australia.

Bibliographic information


“A particular feature of this book is that it draws on the work of leading scholars whose own experiences of class-based inequalities contribute to their understandings of the relationship between education and social class. … this book is thought provoking and makes an important contribution to the discipline of education and social class. It is highly recommended: educators, researchers, policy makers and students would certainly benefit from the contributions in this book.” (Carlene Cornish, British Journal of Educational Studies, October 22, 2019)“Education and working-class youth: Reshaping the educational furnace is a timely and significant edited collection. It addresses one of the most persistent and protracted problems facing education today, that is, the cultural processes of advantaging and disadvantaging of different classes of students. From a range of perspectives, the contributing authors confront the ways in which schools have failed some of the most vulnerable and marginalised young people in society through a range of unfriendly and demeaning experiences. However, at the same time the book captures a sense of hope and optimism of what schooling might be. This involves a rejection of deficit thinking about young people and their backgrounds, a sophisticated analysis of class and a rethinking of the ‘culture,’ ‘pedagogy’ and ‘structure’ of schooling. This book is essential reading for policymakers, educators and community activists concerned with democracy and social justice.” (Barry Down, City of Rockingham Chair in Education, Murdoch University, Australia)

“This book brings together leading experts in the field of education to tackle one of the most pressing political issues of our time. Insightful and careful the book will be a must read for anyone interested in class inequality and its continued importance for young working class people and their life chances.” (Tracy Shildrick, Head of Sociology, Newcastle University, UK)