The Influence of My Family's Position in Society on My Educational Experiences

In this essay, I will address how my educational experiences have been influenced through my family’s position in society, by going through each institution I have attended and creating an analysis based off that information on how it reflects my academic motivations and achievements. My family’s current class position would be considered middle class, I live with my mom in a single parent household, she has a huge influence on every aspect of my life.

The first part of this Essay will outline the concepts of the sociological imaginations written by C.

Wright Mills to evaluate the relationships between social background and an individual’s life experiences; and how they go hand in hand. Secondly, I will construct a timeline that includes the different schools I have attended up until my current educational institution. At last, I’ll generate a thorough breakdown, where I will connect these educational experiences to my family’s class position and there over all influence on my educational goals in life.

The Sociological Imagination is essentially looking at the world sociologically. Asking questions and providing sociological answers (Mill, 2017). Mills outlines 3 questions that are the basis to thinking sociologically. 1. What is the structure of this particular society as a whole? 2. Where does this society stand in human history? 3. What varieties of men and women now prevail in this society and period? (Mill,2017). There is an importance as to why these questions are asked as they. The sociological imagination is meant to show us how our personal life is shaped by the society we live in and its historical context.

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For example, In our first Lecture, about what is Sociology, we talked about how our personal troubles may be influenced by social issues in society (Cook, Sept 7th 2017). We used the example about divorce and how the outcome of a divorce is shaped by outside forces (ex. A judge, a jury of 12 etc..). Theses outside forces are ultimately what influences our individual lives. Mills, expands on that idea and goes into detail about how our issues belong to a larger social structure. He uses the example of Unemployment rates, If a society has an increased rate of unemployment we need to be questioning that society as to why and how its occurring. He also considers different ways society supports or doesn’t support individual values, people who are supported experience well-being while those who aren’t support experience a sense of crisis (Mill, 2017).

The sociological imagination overall connects a man’s private troubles to public issues in a social structure. It allows us to take history and biography and link them to our individual society (Mills, 2017). Mill’s is trying to get us to become aware of our own circumstances and how we become “falsely conscious” of the social positions we are put in. The sociological imagination, relies heavily on critical thinking. Thinking critically is a key component, questioning why society is arranged the way it is. Also taking a look at the inequality between different social group and their effects on a society.

My educational experiences relate closely to my families class position in society, they are what influenced my goals and ambitions. Class can be split up into two categories Material aspects and Cultural aspects. My family’s current class position would be considered middle class as mentioned before. Being and only child, raised by a single mom, meant that I was faced with multiple social inequalities. My mother was constantly working which is why I was put in a very small educational institution, from Junior Kindergarten to around Grade 1. Maranatha Christian Academy had around 200 students. The classrooms were smaller, and I was given more attention because I was not being given that at home (due to my mother always working). That is partially the reason I was put in that academy to get a one on one learning experience.

My mother’s material aspects including our income, the amount of time she spent away from home and the skill level required to achieve her employment are all factors as to why I could afford to go to this private school. Pierre Bourdieu, a french sociologist studied social struggles over meaning. He came up with this concept of Distinction; the taste for luxury vs. the Taste for necessity (Cook, Sept 21st 2017). My family falls into the Taste for necessity, my mom was concerned about making a living, she cared more for substance than form, this heavily relates to why I was put into public school for a great deal of my education.

From 2005-2013 I was attending public school, we ended up moving to a different area due to another job offering her more income. I was put in the public-school system due to the dispositions that arise from the material conditions. At this time, my family’s class position was fairly good, we had all the material necessity’s, available, household resources, we were placed in a good location with a fairly good quality home and lastly my mom was able to spend more time at home which ultimately meant more time spent with me.

Finally, in 2013 I entered a catholic high school, this was decision my family made, that they thought was best in order for me to learn more about my catholic heritage. Culture is something the orients us in social environment and helps us achieve meaning beyond our regular reality (Cook, Sept 14th 2017). From a functionalist perspective they see a close relationship between culture and society, the catholic school culture is something that has been integrated in my family for generations, which is why I was a part of it when I began high school. Societies have needs, and social institutions like catholic school, meet those needs of society: in this case my mom. Furthermore, My families social class played an enormous role on not only the schools I could afford to go to.

To further elaborate on my point about class and its effect, not only the child parent relations but on the educational institution choice. The article I found specifically talks about middle class parents engagement in their child’s education. Middle class parents engage in strategic actions in order to influence their child’s education and also maintain their own class position (Maddox, Kimelberg, Cucchiara, 2016). Similarly, to my situation, parents in the study strived to shape their child’s academic experiences by “choosing top” schools for them to attend. Once children are in these schools, middle class parents keep a close watch on their kids, specifically black parents. This is where race and class intersect, middle class black parents monitor their children at school to see if racial inequality manifest its way into their child’s educational experience (Maddox, Kimelberg, Cucchiara, 2016).

Likewise, my family took a keen interest in my study’s making sure that any racial inequality was addressed so that it would never come up. Many parents also transmit information about school problems to others in their social circles ()Maddox, Kimelberg, Cucchiara, 2016, for example friends, work colleagues etc. That is partially why my mom decided for me to go to a Catholic high school, It was recommended by one of her colleagues. In a like manner, the second article I read focused more on the preschool aspect of. Childs education. Specifically, middle class parental investment in their child’s preschool years in order to give their child a head start on their learning (Smyth, 2016).

Middle class parents (if they have the income) enroll their children in preschool programs that they believe would give their child a head start in their education. This explains why parent foster their child’s cognitive development in order to take control of their child’s early learning (Smyth, 2016). I was initially put in the Maranatha Christian academy because my family believed it would be the best institution, at that time to kick start my learning, my family felt compelled to begin fostering my learning even at such a young age.

More importantly, my family and I being of African American decent also affected not only my education but also our class position in society. Racism and racial stereotypes have a tremendous effect on educational opportunities for people of color. Schools are the most universally recognized institutions that facilitate normative outcomes in students’ lives (Epps,& Epps, 1995). “African American children in public school frequently encounter attitudes and social arrangements that communicate to them that they are not valued as people” (Epps, & Epps, 1995). This statement was taken from a journal about inequality in the educational system, this idea that there are different types of expectations teachers have for students based of their race or how they identity is true.

In addition, our socio-economic status and race contribute in our educational outcome. Our family structure, whether or not we come from low income homes, our parents education prior to having children our overall status in society determines how we a children learn (Epps,& Epps, 1995). In the journal, the dropout rate for African Americans were significantly higher if your family constantly had you switching school and environment you lived in was not safe (Epps,& Epps, 1995). The environment I was living throughout my years at public school, was a very good neighborhood, I didn’t have those environmental distractions nor did I constantly switch schools.

Moreover, higher education is attached to our socio-economic circumstances of our family. The concept that class society is transcribed through our education is addressed in an article I read called “Social Class Differences in Parent Educational Expectations”, where families with different backgrounds have different expectations for their children (Yang, 2007). A parents social status relates to their child’s education expectations, if you come from a higher social status the child’s expectations and work ethic will be higher then if it were the other way around. My family’s expectations for me relied heavily on their status, I was expected to attain good grades consistently. If your parents ae highly educated, share higher expectations for their children (Yang, 2007), So a parent social status does play a role in a child’s educational development.

Furthermore, a family’s class position in society severely impacts a child’s educational development. My personal educational experiences were paved through my family’s views and culture. Each experience has shaped me into the young lady I am today. My family has a huge impact on my life not only my education, There aspirations for me in turn became my dreams. My educational goal to become a cooperate lawyer is ultimately shaped from many of my aunts and uncle being Lawyers themselves. In addition, we need to take in account all aspects of a family’s class (race, ethnicity, culture, income) in order to accumulate an overall idea of how they influence your education. Overall, a family’s social class shows us how our personal life is shaped by the society we live in and the people who live in it with us.


  1. Cook, Nancy. 2017. Introduction/What is Sociology. Lecture delivered in SOCI 1F90, Brock University, Sept 7th 2017
  2. Cook, Nancy. 2017.Socialisation. Lecture delivered in SOCI 1F90, Brock University, Sept 14th 2017
  3. Cook, Nancy. 2017.Culture. Lecture delivered in SOCI 1F90, Brock University, Sept 21st 2017
  4. Epps, E. G., & Epps, C. D. (1995). Race, class, and educational opportunity: Trends in the sociology of education. Edmund W. Gordon: Producing Knowledge, Pursuing Understanding Advances in Education in Diverse Communities: Research, Policy and Praxis, 10(4), 583-608.
  5. Maddox, L., Kimelberg, S. M., & Cucchiara, M. (2016). British journal of Education of Sociology. Seeking a ‘critical mass’: middle-class parents’ collective engagement in city public schooling 37(7): 905-927.
  6. Mill, C, Wright. (2017). The Promise. In Rethinking Society in the 21ST Century: Critical Readings in Sociology (Fourth Edition) edited by Michelle Webber and Kate Bezanson, pg 5- 10. Toronto, Canadian Scholars Press inc.
  7. Smyth, C. (2016). Getting Ahead in the Preschool Years: An Analysis of a Preschool
  8. Enrichment and Entertainment Market. Sociology,50(4), 731-747.
  9. Yang, C. (2007). Social class differences in parent educational expectations: The relationship between parents’ social status and their expectations for children’s education. Frontiers of Education in China,2(4), 568-578.

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The Influence of My Family's Position in Society on My Educational Experiences. (2022, Dec 09). Retrieved from

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