Cultural Deprivation is a term referring to the absence of certain expected and acceptable cultural phenomena in the environment which results in the failure of the individual to communicate and respond in the most appropriate manner within the context of society. Language acquisition and language use are commonly used in assessing this concept.
Proponents of this term argue that the culture of the people in the working class (regardless of race, gender, ethnicity and other factors) is inherently deficient and different from the middle class.
According to this theory, this deprivation results in the working class remaining always poor and unable to leave their class to higher classes.
Cultural Deprivation refers to the social class structure of society. How the middle class gain cultural capital via primary socialization compared to that of the working class who have been socialized differently without this culture capital. Culture capital is what helps the middle class succeed in the capitalist system of society; the norms and values the middle class lean help their educational achievement and employability. The working class members of society that lack culture capital do not pass it on to their children, reproducing the class system (Willis (1977) Learning to Labour). Morais Suggests that middle class children's culture capital allows them to communicate with their middle class teachers more effectively than the working class children which Morias et al suggest is a contributor in the inequality between social classes.
With arguments from Bourdieu (understanding Bourdieu 2004 webb et al) that state schools are set up to make everybody middle class whereby only the middle class and some high achieving working class can achieve this. Continuing his argument that exams suit the middle class, academic work meets the strengths of the middle class leaving the working class trying to meet the expected standards of others strengths with their weaknesses. The culture deprivation from a Marx perspective suggests that the material and resources available to the working class is limited, thus are educated poorly before entering the first steps of education. Some pupils start school with the ability to read at a low level, some can't even write their name. This shows the difference in opportunity and values that create a culture deprivation for the working class at a very early age.
- Willis, P. (1977) How working class kids get working class jobs. Learning to Labour. Saxon House
- Webb, J. Schirato, T and Danaher, G. (2002) Understand Bourdieu. Saga Publication
- Morais, A. Neves, I. Davies, B. Daniels, H. (2001) Towards a Sociology of Pedagogy. New York: Peter Lang
Further reading 
- Bernstein, B. (2002) Educational Codes and Social Control, British Journal of Sociology of Education, 23: 4. (The whole of this edition is useful for understanding Basil Bernstein).
- Chitty, C. (2002) Education and Social Class. The Political Quarterly, 73 (2), pp. 208 – 210.
- Legewie, J. and DiPrete, T. A. (2012) School Context and the Gender Gap in Educational Achievement. American Sociological Review, 77, (3), pp. 463 – 485.
- Leathwood, C. and Archer, L. (2004) ‘Social class and educational inequalities: the local and the global’, in Pedagogy, Culture and Society, 12, (1).
- Leicester, M. (1991). Equal Opportunities in School: Social Class, Sexuality, Race, Gender and Special Needs, Harlow, Longman.
- Mac an Ghaill, M. (1996) ‘Sociology of Education, state schooling and social class: beyond critiques of the New Right hegemony’, British Journal of Sociology of Education, 17: 163-176.
- Marks, G. N. (2011) Issues in the Conceptualisation and Measurement of Socioeconomic Background: Do Different Measures Generate Different Conclusions? Social Indicators Research, 104, (2), pp. 225 – 251.
- Reay, D. (2001) “Finding or losing yourself?’: working-class relationships to education’, Journal of Education Policy 16(4): 333-346.
- "Cultural deprivation". Biology online. 3 October 2005. Retrieved 15 March 2013.