Labeling is when someone has made a certain judgment on someone based on certain aspects such as clothing, attitude, race or gender etc. There are two forms of labeling within the education system, positive and negative, these labels can have an effect on children's education success and in turn their economic success which creates an unequal class divide as the majority of the negative labels are usually attached to working class and minority groups, however others argue that labels don't always affect a child's educational success as some children may use it as motivation and work hard to prove the labels wrong.
As Becker (1961) explains that the ideal characteristics of a student described by a teacher are those of middle class children: bright, well dressed, motivated etc. this implies that teachers prefer middle class students over working class, this could demotivate the working class children as teachers already favor middle class therefore they may focus more on them. Similarly Ray Rits (1970) found that in an American kindergarten students' were seated according to class background, higher class students were labeled 'tigers' and working class 'clowns', labeling like this causes under-achievement within the working class, as they're demotivated to do well, this is known as the self-fulfilling prophecy (SFP). This means that the way teachers label students will also affect their expectations and interactions with said student, for example those labeled as 'smart' may receive more encouragement to do harder tasks whereas those considered 'thick' may be held back from high achievement as teachers may think the student would be able to cope. This will affect the way the students view themselves hence if they're labeled 'thick' they may act accordingly and give up, therefore increasing the social class difference as the students will evidently fail in education and therefore will not be able to aim for high pay jobs.