Cultural capital and perception of teacher-student relationships : Uncovering inequalities at schools in China

Francisco OLIVOS*, Satoshi ARAKI

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


A long tradition in stratification research argues students with higher cultural capital are likely to be treated by their teachers as possessing the “right culture,” which positively affects their academic performance. Nevertheless, the literature has paid little attention to the role of students' perception in this process. Using two waves of the China Educational Panel Survey, we investigate how students' cultural capital affects their own understanding of teacher-student interactions, including its gender difference. Fixed effects regressions show a substantially positive effect of cultural capital on the perceived frequency of teachers praising and calling on students to answer questions across subjects. Nonetheless, we also find the lack of cultural capital is not punished and that the cultural capital's effect varies across its specific components and gender. These findings pave the way for elucidating the entire causal chain of intergenerational social inequality via cultural capital, teacher bias, students’ perception, and their educational outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)376-401
Number of pages26
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology
Issue number3
Early online date28 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the editor and two anonymous reviewers for their valuable feedback that helped to improve this article. Dr. Olivos acknowledges the financial support of the RGC Postdoctoral Fellowship Scheme.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 London School of Economics and Political Science.


  • China
  • Cultural capital
  • Gender
  • Social inequality
  • Teacher bias
  • cultural capital
  • gender
  • social inequality
  • teacher bias


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