Skip to main content

elaborated and restricted speech codes

elaborated and restricted speech codes A distinction formulated by Basil Bernstein, a leading figure in the sociology of education, which contrasts the so-called formal language of middle-class children with the public language of the working class (see his Class, Codes and Control, 1971–7)
. These linguistic codes were said to be correlated with class differences in family organization, power, and control. The elaborated code of the middle class is institutionalized in schools. This results in ‘culturally induced backwardness’ among working-class children. Bernstein's research projects at the London University Institute of Education appeared to confirm these ideas, but the results of replication by others in Britain and the United States have been more ambivalent. His use of terms like class and code has also been criticized, albeit sometimes unfairly, for their ambiguity and implicit disdain for working-class life.

Bernstein was one of the first sociologists to place the problem of knowledge at the centre of the study of educational process. This was taken up by the ‘new’ sociology of education of the early 1970s. His work is usually discussed in two phases, though it is underlain throughout by concerns which reflect the influence of Émile Durkheim, in particular social symbols, classification, and cognitive processes. The earlier studies of social class and linguistic codes did much to initiate a sociology of language. His later works deal with the classification and framing of educational knowledge. Classification refers to the variability of boundaries in curriculum content (for example between school subjects); framing addresses the relative openness of teacher-pupil relationships. These concerns led Bernstein to a critique of progressive classroom pedagogies because of their invisible link to middle-class rather than working-class child-rearing styles.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"elaborated and restricted speech codes." A Dictionary of Sociology. . 23 Apr. 2019 <>.

"elaborated and restricted speech codes." A Dictionary of Sociology. . (April 23, 2019).

"elaborated and restricted speech codes." A Dictionary of Sociology. . Retrieved April 23, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.