The Implications of Bernstein’s Theory of Codes on Contemporary Chinese Education



The Theory of Codes proposed by the famous English educational sociologist Basil Bernstein is one of the most influential theories both in educational and linguistic academia, especially functional linguistics. It serves as a guideline to explain contemporary Chinese educational issues. This paper aims to make a detailed analysis of some misconceptions about the Theory of Codes from a functional linguistic perspective: (1) the Chinese and Western class bases of code demarcation; (2) the misconception of language as social dialect;(3) the attribution of educational failure to language failure; (4) social value assignment to codes; (5) the misunderstanding of the Theory of Codes due to convergence between urban and rural areas. The theory’s appliability in Chinese educational context is further explored and some implications are drawn to help interpret and solve educational issues in China.


Bernstein; Functional linguistic perspective; The theory of codes; Misconceptions

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