Impact of Pandemic Covid-19 on Education, Inequalities and Economy

Essay, 2021

13 Pages, Grade: 1,0



Table of Contents


2.Social and Cultural Capital
2.3.Social Inequalities

3.Covid on Education
3.1 The time factor
3.2 The housing and equipment factor
3.3 The educational level of the parents
3.4 Nutrition
3.5 Interim conclusion

4.Impact on Economicy




The Pandemic, caused by the Virus Covid-19, is accompanied by school closures, social distancing measures and restricting the movement of people, goods and services, leading to stalled economies. „The UNESCO reported that the COVID 19 outbreak disrupted the education of at least 290.5 million students worldwide.“ ( This leads to a gigantic educational crisis.

While only few schools had the capacity to arrange a distance learning program for their students, not all of the students have the same chances on using it, depending on their social position.

While this disruption to education and the expected reduction in global growth have far-reaching effects for all, their impact will be particularly adverse to the most disadvantaged students and their families, especially in poorer countries. Bourdieu, a representative for critical sociology, states that the social success is dependent on the starting requirements, the cultural capital.

Critical sociologists see education as a means for perpetuating class. Using Bourdieu’s Theories on Cultural Capital and Inheritance and the Thesis of Coleman about Social Capital, I would like to point out, how education reproduces inequalities and stratification. Statistic insights of the PISA- Studies and Eurostat, support the arguments, to understand how the current global pandemic could affect education outcomes for years to overcome.

From that point, the paper discusses on the Macro-Level, the relationship between the educational system and the economy, and what costs emerge through the loss of education caused by Covid-19, and it’s impact on the economic growth in the future.

2. Social and cultural Capital

2.1 Bourdieu

Bourdieu analyzes the relationship between culture and social inequality. In his view, culture is a medium for the reproduction of class structures.

He says, that the availability of education determines life chances of individuals and at the societal level, it is one of the central determinants of inequality processes.

According to Bourdieu, the distribution and composition of economic and cultural capital determines the position in social space, which, together with the habitus, makes social differences appear to be natural. The habitus is an incarnated way of acting, that has become a permanent disposition (Bourdieu,1987).

Cultural capital can also be described as "educational capital" and is divided by Bourdieu into three subgroups: Incorporated cultural capital refers to the time needed to acquire and internalize education (Bourdieu, 1983). It is usually passed on unconsciously within the family during the socialization phase and becomes part of the habitus, passed on in the short term.

Objectified cultural capital (Bourdieu, 1983) is represented in material goods such as monuments, writings, books and paintings, but also in techniques and technology. It is, so to speak, the knowledge of a society in solidified form. However, this form of cultural capital acquires its significance only in relation to the incorporated educational capital. On the other hand, with sufficient economic capital, so-called "cadre forces" (Bourdieu, 1983) can be employed to deal with the objectified cultural capital. Bourdieu also concludes from this, that economic capital is the dominant form of capital. The third subdivision is what he calls institutionalized cultural capital, which includes school degrees and academic titles (Bourdieu, 1983). These titles make the corporate cultural capital visible, measurable and thus comparable.

As a cause of social segregation, he identifies not only the economic capital, but in particular also cultural capital and associated with it, the position in the social space.

As one of the most important mediations of cultural capital, Bourdieu names the "cultural heritage" within the family. Where much cultural capital exists, there can also be a lot of cultural capital be passed on.

Thus, "equal treatment" leads to different results depending on the habitus and the amount of cultural capital. It can not be traced back to "natural talents" but to different starting conditions. It follows from this that children of better-off and privileged families are more likely to emerge as winners of the education system.

Social capital is the principle of social effects (Bourdieu, 1997). It describes relationships, networks, membership in groups. It can only be built up and maintained through relationship work, which in turn means the investment of money and time. This shows that it is never completely independent of economic and cultural capital, but has a multiplier effect on the other forms of capital (Bourdieu, 1983).

Corporate cultural capital, which is usually passed on within the family in a disguised form, creates essential preconditions for acquiring better educational qualifications. However, it is the totality of economic, cultural and social capital that facilitates the path through the education system. Consequently, the greater the total capital, the better the schooling.

2.2. Coleman

Also Coleman indicates that educational achievements of individuals are related to various forms of capital that an individual possesses or does not possess (Coleman, 1990).

The most influential capital for him, is the social capital - the entire assortment of social resources to which an individual can draw on in order to achieve a goal with their help. These societal resources consist of trust, the network of obligations that can be called upon, if necessary the general consensus that makes efficient cooperation possible and other values anchored in social relations.

In it, families as well as social organizations function as resources that influence the chances of a successful school career. Coleman's definition of social capital is part of his theory of action and is more directed towards a generic approach of interpersonal relationships: "... social capital is inherent in the relational structures between two or more persons" (Coleman, 1990). According Coleman, family support and assistance are the core of the social capital concept.

Coleman integrates his concept of social capital into the economic principle of rational action. He assumes a rational maximization of utility of the actors who use resources to realize their interests. Coleman additionally points out that the social composition of students in a class and of schools as well as the resources of schools are decisive for individual school success. Coleman’s best- known study focuses on the connection between social capital in the networks of family relationships and school performance, determined, by the school dropout rate. When two people interact, for example parents and children, they can contribute their human capital.

2.3. Education reproduces inequalities and stratification

While Bourdieu is a representative of the sociological capital and class theory, which tells, that the inheritance of resources, positions, and talent is further reinforced within the education system, resulting in a permanent reproduction of inequality, Coleman prescribes himself to the Human capital theory, who presume, that educational inequality is the result of different individual investments in education. He assumes rational utility maximization of actors, who use resources to realize their interests. Children benefit from the human capital, as well as the physical or financial capital, of their parents and may have an advantage over others. The social capital thus becomes a "social structural resource" (Coleman, 1995), in that it contributes to the formation of the child's human capital in the parent-child relationship. Through the social relationship with the parents, the child can draw on the parental human capital as a resource, which promotes his or her social and cognitive abilities.Through individual investment, the child can simply promote himself socially, and practice self-determined social mobility, unlike in Bourdieus theory.

The French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu emphasizes the unconscious and conscious transmission of the individual and class habitus as the basis of social reproduction. He describes the different disposal of social and cultural, or educational capital, as a requirement for the transmission of subtle differences between people in terms of taste, lifestyle and social status. He sees social reproduction as closely determined by individual and social socialization. The person incorporates the expressions of his social class and integrates them individually. For him, social change and mobility is an exception. Education is not „the royal road to democratization“ ,that it could be and equality of opportunity is an illusion. (Bourdieu/Passeron, 1971)

„As modern societies increasingly transfer the selection function to the educational institution, they can afford to abandon the traditional procedures of direct transmission of heritage in favor of a seemingly completely neutral selection body. More successfully than ever before - and in a society that claims its democratic values, in the only possible way - the educational system can perform its function of perpetuating social and cultural privileges by knowing better than ever how to conceal the exercise of this function". (Bourdieu/Passeron, 1971) According to this, formally all people must participate in the same game of 'education' according to supposedly equal rules, so that in a formal sense equality of opportunity can be established. What is unequal are the real opportunities, because the game itself purports to be aimed at general education and training, but in reality is tailored to the abilities and rules of certain social groups (Bourdieu/Passeron 1971).

In this way, paradoxically, the very formal equality of opportunities leads to the fact that existing inequalities continue to be seen as a consequence of individual performance. According to the “faucet theory” (Entwisle, 2001), schools provide roughly equal benefits to children of every economic background. In the „Illusion Of Equal Opportunity“ Bourdieu does not demand equality of opportunity, but equality of outcome.

Education leads then to inequalities and stratification. The question rising out of this is what does a break or inhibition of education leads to?

3. Covid19 Education

The main strategy against the spread of Covid-19 is to limit physical contact. This led to the closure of schools, an important measure for both, the students and the teaching staff. But experts fear Corona crisis will widen the education gap. What factors contribute to this rising educational inequality? Is the corona crisis also a distribution crisis?

The following addresses the four central problems in the education sector. All of them follow the theory of the social and cultural capital, because they base on the capital that the student takes of their families socio-economic situation.

3.1. The time factor

Do parents manage to reconcile their work and the care of their children?

Research on past pandemics, violent conflicts, teacher strikes and natural disasters, that led to school closures, have identified, that school absence result is a general loss of learning. This can be more or less severe, depending on students previous performance, family characteristics, age, and education pathway, among other factors.

The current situation due to the Corona virus is quite comparable to this: The children are at home, the parents have to perform - depending on the industry and profession - either in the home office or continue to perform at their workplace, and in between there is always the question of when and how the children can be cared for. And that has a negative impact on equal opportunities.

The „summer vacation loss effect“ does not affect all students equally. During the summer period, educational inequalities between socially advantaged and disadvantaged children increase. While students learning development is largely parallel during the instructional months, based on their different starting levels, different skill developments emerge during the summer vacation, depending on socioeconomic family background. This relies on the idea that students of educated, higher-income families join vacation activities, read and get motivated by their parents. (Quinn, Polikoff, 2017) .It is therefore very likely that the current school closure will also have long-term consequences for students and further exacerbate inequalities.

3.2. The housing and equipment factor

How well children learn depends not only on their intelligence and motivation. In order to be able to learn well, the basic conditions must first be created. First and foremost: a quiet workplace where a child can concentrate well. Many different factors determine whether this is given in a household: the size and nature of the living space, distractions from pets, small siblings, the number of people in it. Children who live in a large apartment or house and have a single room with their own desk, for example, have a clear advantage. However, learning also depends on the presence of certain resources: Is there a computer, a tablet, an Internet connection? Is there a printer available for printing out learning materials? The Modell shows that the socioeconomic level correlates with the Internet access students have at home.

On the positive side, there were suggestions that the coronavirus outbreak increased the importance of online education and distance learning, but the reality was that only a small percentage of the world’s education is taught online. Private schools and the state schools that children from better-off families attend are providing more activities that involve active engagement between teachers and students. These include online classes, videochats and online chats, and are likely to be more productive than more passive online resources and home learning packs. These gaps mean that children from better-off families are not only doing a higher quantity of home learning, they also have access to potentially higher-quality support from schools and home learning opportunities.


Excerpt out of 13 pages


Impact of Pandemic Covid-19 on Education, Inequalities and Economy
Panteion University, Athen
Soziologie Bildung
Catalog Number
Social Reproduction, Educational Inheritance, Social Capital, Cultural Capital, Bourdieu, Coleman, Education, Economic Growth
Quote paper
Anonymous, 2021, Impact of Pandemic Covid-19 on Education, Inequalities and Economy, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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