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In this paper, the analysis of both the family's cultural heritage and the relationships between socialization in the family and at school is based on a study focusing on the specific situations of secondary-school-pupils (collégiens) whose parents are highly qualified and who are experiencing difficulties at school. This study is based on data produced by questionnaires completed by 677 families, and interviews with 20 pupils and their parents. The results are presented by extending the concept of cultural transmission, which provides an opportunity to discuss its descriptive and interpretative scope. This notion contains a metaphorical scheme referring to several themes. Three of them are developed here assuming respectively that the family's cultural transmission is akin to the transmission of an inheritance, an illness, or a message. It is thus possible to highlight the material and symbolic conditions in which children can (or cannot) "inherit" dispositions that are beneficial at school from their parents. These dispositions are sometimes unavailable because of the division of the work of child-rearing between parents or kept at a distance due to family power relationships or the process of identification between the "transmitter" and the "receiver." Finally, the heterogeneity of parents' "dispositional inheritance" makes it necessary to consider undesirable forms of cultural transmission.


  • school difficulties
  • cultural transmission
  • family relationships
  • dispositions
  • socialization
Gaële Henri-Panabière
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