This paper raises the question of the character of Bernstein's theory. It draws upon a set of key concepts elaborated in some of his later papers, though we suggest that it is possible to discern the origins of these ideas in much earlier work. In the first section Bernstein's diagnosis of the sociology of education as a horizontal knowledge structure with a weak grammar is discussed and an apparent paradox identified: if the sociology of education has this form, how can we account for Bernstein's own theory? The remainder of the paper uses the case of Bernstein's own work as a way of exploring the conditions for knowledge growth in sociology as a vertical knowledge structure with a strong grammar.
Bernstein's theories; Sociology of education; Sociology of knowledge; Sociological theory