Skip to main content Accesibility Help

Codes, modalities, and the process of cultural reproduction: A model*

  • Basil Bernstein (a1)

“Class relations” will be taken to refer to inequalities in the distribution of power and in principles of control between social groups, which are realized in the creation, distribution, reproduction, and legitimation of physical and symbolic values that have their source in the social division of labor. In terms of the particular problems of the relationships between class and the process of its cultural reproduction, as developed in this thesis, what has to be shown is how class regulation of the distribution of power and of principles of control generates, distributes, reproduces, and legitimates dominating and dominated principles regulating the relationships within and between social groups and so forms of consciousness. What we are asking here is how the distribution of power and principles of control are transformed, at the level of the subject, into different, invidiously related, organizing principles, in such a way as both to position subjects and to create the possibility of change in such positioning. The broad answer given by this thesis is that class relations generate, distribute, reproduce, and legitimate distinctive forms of communication, which transmit dominating and dominated codes, and that subjects are differentially positioned by these codes in the process of their acquisition. “Positioning” is used here to refer to the establishing of a specific relation to other subjects and to the creating of specific relationships within subjects. In general, from this point of view, codes are culturally determined positioning devices. More specifically, class regulated codes position subjects with respect to dominating and dominated form of communication and to the relationships between them. Ideology is constituted through and in such positioning. From this perspective, ideology inheres in and regulates modes of relation. Ideology is not so much a content as a mode of relation for the realizing of contents.

Hide All
Adlam, D. S., Turner, G., & Lineker, L. (1977). Code in context. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Althusser, L. (1971). Ideology and the ideological state apparatus, in Lenin anclphilosophy, tr. Brewster, B.. New York: New Left Books.
Bernstein, B. (1971). Class, codes, and control, vol. I. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Bernstein, B. (1977). Class, codes, and control, vol. III. Revised. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Bourdieu, P., & Boltanski, L. (1978). Changes in social structure and changes in the demand for education. In Giner, S. & Scotford-Archer, M., (eds.), Contemporary Europe, social structures and cultural patterns. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Bourdieu, P., & Passeron, J. C. (1977). Reproduction in education, society and culture. Tr. Nice, R.. Beverly Hills, Calif.: Sage Publications.
Cook-Gumperz, J. (1973). Socialisation and social control. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Durkheim, E. (1977[1938]). The evolution of educational thought. Tr. Collins, P.. London: Rout-ledge & Kegan Paul.
Holland, J. (1980). Social class and changes in orientations to meanings. Sociology 15(1):118.
Lacan, J. (1968). The language of the self. The function of language in psycho-analysis. Tr. with notes and commentary by Wilder, A.. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press.
Silverman, D., & Torode, B. (1980). The material word. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Language in Society
  • ISSN: 0047-4045
  • EISSN: 1469-8013
  • URL: /core/journals/language-in-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed