"The concept of classification is at the heart of Bernstein’s theory of pedagogic discourse and practice. Classification refers to ‘the degree of boundary maintenance between contents’ (Bernstein 1973a, p. 205; 1973b, p. 88) and is concerned with the insulation or boundaries between curricular categories (areas of knowledge and subjects). Strong classification refers to a curriculum that is highly differentiated and separated into traditional subjects; weak classification refers to a curriculum that is integrated and in which the boundaries between subjects are fragile."
(Alan R. Sadovnik, 2001)
Prospects: the quarterly review of comparative education (Paris, UNESCO: International Bureau of Education), vol. XXXI, no. 4, December 2001, p. 687-703. UNESCO: International Bureau of Education, 2001
"Recontextualising rules regulate the work the discipline's teachers - those who constitute its Pedagogic Recontextualising Field (PRF). The pedagogic recontextualising field produces textbooks, curricula, examination criteria and standards. The knowledge produced by researchers and theorists 'passes through ideological screens as it becomes its new form, pedagogic discourse' (Bernstein, 2000, p.115). Recontextualising knowledge for teaching involves selection, translation, and filtering: emerging as a syllabus for 'physics 101' or 'sociology 300' etc. In the late nineteenth century, the establishment of state funded and regulated education systems established Official Pedagogic Recontextualising Fields (ORF) 'created and dominated by the state for the construction and surveillance of state pedagogic discourse' (Bernstein, 2000, p.115). Emanating from the ORF, the PBRF rewards contributions to the knowledge base (laboratory science, field work, theoretical writing), but not the production of its teaching texts, especially those used in schools. The recontextualising activities needed to reproduce and advance a discipline are devalued.
As a pedagogic device, the PBRF recontextualises government policies: they are summarised, translated, operationalised in handbooks, manuals, pro-forma, and seminars. Like any pedagogic practice, these are 'there for one purpose: to transmit criteria' (Bernstein, 2000, p.28). They define the system's evaluative rules and 'provide for acquirers the principles for the production of what counts as the legitimate text. The legitimate text is any realisation on the part of the acquirer which attracts evaluation' (Bernstein, 2000, p.xiv). The production of legitimate texts is a hallmark of academic life - essays, theses, journal articles, curriculum vitae, or promotion applications require mastery of recognition, realisation and evaluation rules. Recognition rules help identify contexts - a sociology class, faculty meeting, psychology journal, Evidence Portfolio, etc. Realisation rules enable textual production - written, spoken, visual etc. It is possible to recognise a context, but lack the realisation rule needed to speak or write its texts.
Bernstein argues that those working in a field of knowledge may feel 'threatened by a change in its classificatory relation, or by an unfavourable change in the economic context' (Bernstein, 2000, p.203). From the mid to late twentieth century, Educationists experienced continual shifts in the classification and framing of their subject/s, and these reconfigured the constraints and possibilities for collective and individual identity formation."
(Sue Middleton, 2006)
1). Middleton, S. (2006). Research Assessment as a pedagogical device: A Bernsteinian exploration of its impact on New Zealand’s subject/s of Education. Australian Association for Research in Education Conference Adelaide.
"The concept of classification is at the heart of Bernstein's theory of pedagogic discourse and practice. Classification refers to 'the degree of boundary maintenance between contents' (Bernstein 1973a, p. 205; 1973b, p. 88) and is concerned with the insulation or boundaries between curricular categories (areas of knowledge and subjects). Strong classification refers to a curriculum that is highly differentiated and separated into traditional subjects; weak classification refers to a curriculum that is integrated and in which the boundaries between subjects are fragile.
Using the concept of classification, Bernstein outlined two types of curriculum codes: collection and integrated codes. The first refers to a strongly classified curriculum; the latter, to a weakly classified curriculum. In keeping with his Durkheimian project, Bernstein analyzed the way in which the shift from collection to integrated curriculum codes represents the evolution from mechanical to organic solidarity (or from traditional to modern society), with curricular change marking the movement from the sacred to the profane.
Whereas classification is concerned with the organization of knowledge into curriculum, framing is related to the transmission of knowledge through pedagogic practices. Framing refers to the location of control over the rules of communication and, according to Bernstein (1990), 'if classification regulates the voice of a category then framing regulates the form of its legitimate message' (p. 100). Furthermore, 'frame refers to the degree of control teacher and pupil possess over the selection, organization, pacing and timing of the knowledge transmitted and received in the pedagogical relationship' (1973b, p. 88). Therefore, strong framing refers to a limited degree of options between teacher and students; weak framing implies more freedom.
Bernstein developed this approach into a systematic analysis of pedagogic discourse and practices. First, he outlined a theory of pedagogic rules that examined the 'intrinsic features which constitute and distinguish the specialized form of communication realized by the pedagogic discourse of education' (Bernstein, 1990, p. 165). Second, he related his theory of pedagogic discourse to a social-class base and applied it to the ongoing development of different educational practices (Bernstein, 1990, p. 63–93).
The concept of code was central to Bernstein's sociology. From the outset of its use in his work on language (restricted and elaborated codes), code refers to a 'regulative principle which underlies various message systems, especially curriculum and pedagogy' (Atkinson, 1985, p. 136). Curriculum and pedagogy are considered message systems, and with a third system, evaluation, they constitute the structure and processes of school knowledge, transmission and practice. As Bernstein (1973b) noted: 'Curriculum defines what counts as valid knowledge, pedagogy defines what counts as valid transmission of knowledge, and evaluation defines what counts as a valid realization of the knowledge on the part of the taught' (p. 85). Thus, his theory of education must be understood in terms of the concepts of classification, framing and evaluation, and their relationship to the structural aspects of his sociological project.
Following this earlier work on curriculum and pedagogic practice was a detailed analysis of pedagogic discourse that presented a complex analysis of the recontextualization of knowledge through the pedagogic device (see Bernstein, 1990). Bernstein's work on pedagogic discourse was concerned with the production, distribution and reproduction of official knowledge and how this knowledge is related to structurally determined power relations. What is critical is that Bernstein was concerned with more than the description of the production and transmission of knowledge; he was concerned with its consequences for different groups.
Bernstein's analysis of pedagogic practice looked at the process and content of what occurs inside schools. His theory of pedagogic practice examined a series of rules considered both how these rules affect the content to be transmitted and, perhaps more important, how they 'act selectively on those who can successfully acquire it.' From an analysis of these rules, Bernstein examined 'the social class assumptions and consequences of forms of pedagogic practice' (Bernstein, 1990, p. 63). Finally, he applied this theory to conservative/traditional versus progressive/child centred) practices. He differentiated between a pedagogic practice that is dependent on the economic market-that emphasizes vocational education-and another that is independent and autonomous of the market-that is legitimated by the autonomy of knowledge. Bernstein concluded that both, despite their claims to the contrary, would not eliminate the reproduction of class inequalities. Through a consideration of the inner workings of the types of educational practice, Bernstein contributed to a greater understanding of how schools reproduce what they are ideologically committed to eradicating-social-class advantages in schooling and society.
Bernstein's analysis of the social-class assumptions of pedagogic discourse and practice is the foundation for linking microeducational processes to the macrosociological levels of social structure and class and power relations. His thesis was that there are significant differences in the social-class assumptions of visible and invisible pedagogy and despite these differences there may indeed be similar outcomes, especially in the reproduction of power and symbolic control. Thus, from his early work on code theory to the more recent works in Class, codes and control, volumes 4 and 5 on pedagogic discourse, (1990, p. 165–218) and on pedagogic practices (1990; 1996), Bernstein's project sought to link microprocesses (language, transmission, and pedagogy) to macroforms-to how cultural and educational codes and the content and process of education are related to social class and power relations."
(Alan R. Sadovnik, 2001)
Prospects: English  French  Spainish  the quarterly review of comparative education (Paris, UNESCO: International Bureau of Education), vol. XXXI, no. 4, December 2001, p. 687-703. UNESCO: International Bureau of Education, 2001