Family, Class and School: The Capitalist Evolution

  • Marvin Grandstaff
Part of the Child Nurturance book series (CHILDNUR, volume 1)


To paraphrase Marx, people raise their own children, but they do not raise them just as they please; they do not raise them under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past. We cannot comprehend the condition of the child in the family fully without also attending to other elements of the society that share directly or indirectly in childrearing.


Family Life Public Life Capitalist Society Grammar School Public Realm 
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  1. Aries, P. Centuries of childhood: A social history of family life. Tr. Robert Baldick. New York: Vintage Books, 1962.Google Scholar
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  1. (1).
    For a discussion of the general economic and cultural conditions that provide the genetic impulse for the establishment of schools, see Yehudi Cohen, Schools and Civilizational States. In John Fisher (Ed.), Social Science and the Comparative Study of Educational Systems, Scranton, Pa: International Textbooks, 1970, pp. 55–147.Google Scholar
  2. (2).
    For general treatment of the capitalist transition that gives primary emphasis to capital itself as the central dynamic, see: Carlo M. Cipolla, Before the Industrial Revolution, New York: W. W. Norton, 1976; E. J. Hobsbawm, The Age of Revolution, New York: Mentor, 1962; Paul Sweezy, et al., The Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism, London: Verso, 1978; Carlo M. Cipolla, ed. The Fontana Economic History of Europe: The Emergence of Industrial Societies, London: Fontana/Collins, 1976; and The Fontana Economic History of Europe: The 16th and 17th Centuries, London: Fontana/Collins, 1974.Google Scholar
  3. (3).
    The two-class construction omits, specifically, the old aristocracy, the (marxian) “middle classes”--groups which, while owning or controlling the means of production, do not buy the labor of others (i.e., small farmers and merchants)--the permanently unemployed (“lumpen- proletariat”) and (a point of major contention in recent marxian analysis) public employees and bureaucrats.Google Scholar
  4. (4).
    On Sennett’s (1978) view, “the line drawn between public and private was essentially one in which the claims of civility--epitomized by cosmopolitan, public behavior--were balanced against the claims in conflict, and the complexity of their vision lay in that they refused to prefer the one over the other, but held the two in a state of equilibrium. Behaving with strangers in an emotionally satisfying way and yet remaining aloof from them was seen to the mid-18th century as the means by which the human animal was transformed into a social being. The capacities for parenthood and deep friendship were seen in turn to be natural potentialities, rather than human creations; while made himself in public, he realized his nature in the private realm, above all in his experiences within the family” (p. 6, italics in original).Google Scholar
  5. (5).
    See, for example, Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis, Schooling in Capitalist America, New York: Basic Books, 1976; Colin Greer, The Great School Legend, New York: Basic Books, 1972; Michael Katz, The Irony of Early School Reform, Boston: Beacon Press, 1968; and David Nasaw, Schooled to Order, New York: Oxford University Press, 1979.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marvin Grandstaff
    • 1
  1. 1.College of EducationMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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