Language and cultural reproduction in Malawi: unpacking the relationship between linguistic capital and learning outcomes

Author(s): Nishioka, Shunsuke; Durrani, Naureen

Date: 2019

Pages: p. 1-12


This paper applies Bourdieu’s cultural reproduction theory to household survey data in Malawi to engage with emerging debates regarding the relationship between language and equitable education. Logistic regression analysis is used to: i. explore the reproduction of social class in education through the lens of linguistic capital; and ii. investigate different effects of linguistic capital between sub-groups in order to draw out policy implications. Both family background and linguistic capital have significant positive effects on learning outcomes, and linguistic capital mediates the reproduction of social class. Lack of linguistic capital appears to particularly disadvantage pupils from lower social classes and in non-Chichewa-speaking districts. The study findings highlight multiple implications for policy, practice and research.

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