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Diane Reay

E-mail Address


BA Hons in Politics and Economics (Newcastle)
PGCE (Newcastle)
MA in Human Rights and Education (London University)
PhD in Social Sciences (South Bank University)

Membership of Professional Bodies/Associations

BERA (British Educational Research Association)
BSA (British Sociological Association)
Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (AcSS)

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Diane Reay is Professor of Education at Cambridge University. She is a sociologist working in the area of education but is also interested in broader issues of the relationship between the self and society, the affective and the material. Her priority has been to engage in research with a strong social justice agenda that addresses social inequalities of all kinds.

Her research has a strong theoretical focus and she is particularly interested in developing theorisations of social class and the ways in which it is mediated by gender and ethnicity. This has resulted in researching areas as diverse as boys' underachievement, Black supplementary schooling, higher education access, female management in schools, and pupil peer group cultures.

Research projects include a study of children's relationships to space and place in the city, a project on parental involvement in education and research which develops Pierre Bourdieu's conceptual framework in order to understand gendered and racialised class processes. Recently completed ESRC-funded projects include ones on children's transitions to secondary schooling , choice of higher education, and students' identities and participation as learners. She is currently directing an ESRC project which examines white, middle class identities through an exploration of educational choice. Professor Reay has supervised PhD students across a wide range of areas including Jewish women teachers, psycho-analytic approaches to social class, pupil peer group cultures in primary schools and parental involvement in nurseries.

As well as being an executive editor of British Journal of Sociology of Education, she is on the editorial boards of  the Journal of Education Policy and Cultural Sociology.

Academic Area/Links

  • Sociology of Education
  • Social Class Theory
  • Education Policy
  • Gender and Education
  • Primary Education
  • Higher Education
  • Race and Ethnicity

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Research Topics

  • Bourdieu's Theory of Practice
  • Social Class
  • Masculinities and femininities in Education
  • Higher Education Choice and Access
  • Pupil Peer Group Cultures
  • Pupil consultation and the social conditions of learning
  • Social Identities
  • Psycho-social approaches to Identity

Current Research Project

MRC/ESRC Life Study Project 2011-

Recent Research Projects

ESRC Social Identities Project on the White Middle Classes and Comprehensive Schooling
May 2005 to October 2007

ESRC TLRP Project on The Socio-cultural experiences of working-class students in HE
January 2006-April 2008

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Course Involvement

  • MPhil: Politics, Democracy and Education
  • Education Studies Tripos: Sociology of Education
  • PhD supervision

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Selected Publications

Diane Reay (2012) What does a socially just educational system look like: Separating the minnows from the pike.Journal of Education Policy  Special issue on socially just education

Diane Reay, (2011) "Schooling for Democracy: A Common School and a Common University? A Response to "Schooling for Democracy"," Democracy and Education: Vol. 19: Iss. 1, Article 6.

Diane Reay, Gill Crozier and David James (2011) White Middle Class Identities and Urban Schooling (Palgrave Press)

Reay, D, Crozier, G and J Clayton (2010) "Fitting in" or "standing out': working-class students in UK higher education British Educational Research Journal 32(1), 1-19

Reay, D, Crozier, G and J Clayton (2009)) 'Strangers in Paradise: Working class students in elite universities Sociology 43(6), 1103-1121

D Reay 2008 Psychosocial aspects of White Middle Class Identities: Desiring and Defending against the Class and Ethnic `Other' in Urban Multi-Ethnic Schooling Sociology ; 42; 1072-1088

D Reay et al (2008) Re-invigorating democracy?: White middle class identities and comprehensive schooling, Sociological Review 2008 56:2, 238-256.

D Reay (2008) Class out of Place: The White Middle Classes and Intersectionalities of Class and "Race" in Urban State Schooling in England in L Weis (ed) The Way Class Works, New York: Routledge.

D Reay (2007 ) Unruly Places: Inner-city Comprehensives, Middle-class imaginaries and Working-class Children Urban Studies Special Issue on The Geography of Education Vol 44 no 7, 1191-1203.

D Reay et al (2007) 'A Darker Shade of Pale?' Whiteness, the Middle Classes and Multi-Ethnic Inner City Schooling Sociology vol 41 no 6, pgs 1041-1060.

D Reay (2006) The Zombie Stalking English Schools: Social Class and Educational Inequality British Journal of Educational Studies vol 54, no 3, 288-307.

D Reay (2006) 'I'm not seen as one of the clever children': Consulting primary school pupils about the social conditions of learning Education Review special issue on Pupil Consultation vol 58 no 2, 171-181.

D, Reay (2006) Cultural Capital Theories Encyclopedia of Gender and Education (ed) B Bank, New York: Greenwood Press.

D Reay (2006 ) Compounding inequalities of gender and class in B. Francis, C. Skelton and L. Smulyan (eds) Handbook on Gender and Education, London: Sage.

D Reay (2006) Future directions in difference research: Recognising and responding to difference in S Nagy Hess-Biber and M Yaiser (eds) Future Directions in Feminist Research, New York: Oxford University Press.

D Reay (2005) 'Beyond Consciousness?: The Psychic Landscape of Social Class' Sociology Special Issue of Class, Culture and Identity vol 39 no 5, 911-928.

Reay, Diane, David, Miriam E and Ball, Stephen (2005) Degrees of Choice: social class, race and gender in higher education: Trentham Books

D Reay (2005) Doing the dirty work of social class? Mothers' work in support of their children's schooling in M Glucksmann, L Pettinger and J West (eds), A New Sociology of Work: Blackwells

D Reay (2004) Qualitative perspectives on gender and social class in S Nagy Hess-Biber and M Yaiser (eds) Feminist Perspectives on Social Research New York: Oxford University Press.

Reay, D (2004) Gendering Bourdieu's concept of capitals?: Emotional capital, women and social class in L Adkins and B Skeggs (ed) Feminism after Bourdieu Blackwell

Arnot, M., McIntyre, D., Peddar, D. and Reay, D (2004) Consultation in the Classroom: developing dialogue about teaching and learning Cambridge: Pearson Publishing

Crozier, Gill and Reay, Diane (2004) (ed) Activating Participation: parents and teachers working towards partnership Trentham Books

D Reay ( 2004) 'Mostly Roughs and Toughs' : Social class, race and representation in inner city schooling Sociology volume 38, no 5, 1005-1023

D Reay (2004) 'It's all becoming a habitus': Beyond the habitual use of Pierre Bourdieu's concept of habitus in educational research Special Issue of British Journal of Sociology of Education on Pierre Bourdieu vol 25 no 4, pp 431-444

D Reay (2004) Exclusivity, exclusion and social class in urban educational markets in the UK Urban Education vol 39 no 5, 537-560.

D Reay (2004) Education and Cultural Capital: The implications of changing trends in education policies Cultural Trends 13 no 2, 1-14

D Reay (2003) A risky business?: Mature working class women students and access to higher education Gender and Education vol 15 no 3, 301- 318.

D Reay (2002) Shaun's story: troubling discourses of white working class masculinities Gender and Education vol 14 no 3, pp221-234

D Reay (2001) Spice girls, 'nice girls', 'girlies' and tomboys: Gender discourses, girls' cultures and femininities in the primary classroom Gender and Education vol 13 no 2, 153-166.

D Reay (2001) Finding or losing yourself?: Working class relationships to education Journal of Education Policy vol 16 no 4, 333-346

D Reay and Wiliam, D (1999) I'll be a nothing: Structure, agency and the construction of identity through assessment British Educational Research Journal vol 25 no 3, 343-354.

D Reay (1998) Class Work : Mothers' involvement in children's schooling London: University College Press.

D Reay (1998) Rethinking social class: Qualitative perspectives on gender and social class Sociology vol 32 no 2, pp 259-275

D Reay (1995) They employ cleaners to do that: Habitus in the primary classroom in British Journal of Sociology of Education vol 16 no 3 pp 353-371.