So many people enjoyed our first reading list (accessible here), so we decided to share some more of our favourites with you, in the hope that you will be inspired to start a reading circle at your school or with your friends, or just start a discussion that helps to promote a critical analysis of power and oppression in contemporary society and to provoke action toward a more just and fair society.

Here they are – five more favourites – in no particular order, and varying in both style and reading difficulty. If you pick up one of these and it provokes thought, please pop us email to info@bottomup.org.za and tell us about your reading experience.


Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture by Pierre Bourdieu
Okay, so this is not your average bed-time reading and you’re probably going to want to read this with some friends but it is a seriously helpful text if you want to understanding the theory of social reproduction and if you are tired of the meritocratic myths served up in motivational speeches and self-help literature. In this book, Bourdieu challenges the idea that school is the great leveler and proceeds to describe how education has always been fashioned in the interest of the dominant classes in society. Moreover, he presents the argument that schools serve to reproduce class inequalities and legitimise the status quo by obscuring the role of capitals in school success.


The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B Du Bois
This seminal text by Du Bois has informed Black protest in the US. In this book Du Bois’ introduces some key ideas like ‘the colour line’, ‘the veil’ and ‘double consciousness’, the latter of which explains the contradictory and conflicting consciousness, or double-identity of the Black experience in a racist world. It’s an idea that is picked up in contemporary films such as The Hate U Give or the BlackKklansman and one that can be incredibly helpful in understanding race relations and the experience of marginalised youth in schools.


Is everyone really equal? by Özlem Sensoy and Robin DiAngelo
This book is super easy to read but does a really good job of introducing the basics of a critical social justice approach that is anchored in critical social theory. It introduces some basic terminology and concepts like ‘Culture and Socialisation’, ‘Prejudice and Discrimination’, and ‘Oppression and Power’ – this makes it a really good go to book if you’re looking for everyday ways to explain sociological concepts.


Readings for Diversity and Social Justice
This book is actually a course reader and a collection of really well written articles and essays that cover a range of contemporary social justice concerns. If you are wanting to explore a topic with a class, reading circle or a group of friends, some of these articles could be a really good place to start. The anthology covers a wide range of topics including: racism, religious oppression, classism, ableism, youth and elder oppression, sexism, heterosexism, and transgender oppression.


Ain’t No Makin’ It by Jay MacLeod
This is a classic ethnography about how social inequality is reproduced from one generation to the next. It’s highly readable but should probably be rated R for language (maybe not one for the kids). If you like thick description and fine-grained analysis, this is the book for you. It’s a good one to read before or after Bourdieu’s Reproduction.


Reading is power! Keep it up, one chapter at a time. The more we read the better our social analysis. The better our analysis and our critique of power and society, the more informed and productive our actions will be. We can build a more hopeful, just and fair society.