My comments

The material I know best is the stuff I have summarised, which is Bernstein at the end of his career, looking back over a wide range of material, including the later work on knowledge structures that seem to have revived interest in powerful knowledge and to have inspired a good deal of Maton and Young for that matter.  I have an excellent commentary on Bernstein to summarise as well.

The thing that interests me so far, however, is the eclecticism of the theoretical resources, or, if you prefer, their incoherence.  From what I can see, the project began with a lot of interest in Durkheim, as well as some empirical input from Bernstein's work trying to teach Post Office Telegraph boys.  Here, the main issue is a distinction between the sacred and profane, which becomes a distinction between the thinkable and the unthinkable, and then, in the crucial move, the distinction between context dependent and context independent knowledge.  From what I can see, this distinction has remained unchallenged, and is seen as central to all industrial societies.  There is an interesting commentary in one of the chapters, however, where Bernstein suggests that the sacred is becoming less important in modern technological societies: I am not at all sure that a Durkheimian would go along with that, since, to some extent, new areas of the sacred arise such as nationalism or fundamentalism, but social order itself might be based on different kinds of solidarity, moving from a shared compulsory submission to the sacred to a more negotiable form of organic solidarity.  The most dubious move in this shift arises when Bernstein tries to suggest that the distinctions he finds between vertical and horizontal modes of knowledge can also be linked to the sacred profane duality, if indeed he does argue that.

When it comes to examining actual embodiments of the sacred and profane, Bernstein wants to shift to some sort of notion of struggle or conflict.  It is not at all clear what kind of struggle or conflict this is, however.  It could still be a Durkheimian kind, where social especially economic change throws up dilemmas that the social and cultural system is slow to adapt to, so there is cultural lag, and therefore various kinds of pathologies, including deviance and conflict.  Some of this conflict could be functional in helping cultures to adapt, of course, and all of it should disappear long-term.  At other times, Bernstein seems to suggest that there is a different kind of permanent conflict underway, involving power.  This could be a clue to an underlying Weberian commitment, also suggested by occasional passages that suggests that classes form up around market opportunities to compete over scarce resources, including, in this case access to the pedagogic device.  Certainly, there is no discussion of Marxist versions of social class, rather an analysis of various kinds of groups competing for dominance, including official and local pedagogues.

It might be possible just to see Bernstein as a Mertonian functionalist?  In any event, his own position is mobile enough to support quite different arguments.  For example in his own accounts of struggles with critics, he claims that his position is the same as Bourdieu's, except that he is is more precise and specifies a number of mechanisms that might be at work in the formation of the habitus.  In some pieces by Maton, however, Bernstein is an open critic of Bourdieu, arguing, for example for a place for the sacred against Bourdieu's stress on the arbitrary.

There is also a strong role played by empirical investigation, itself limited to an overriding interest in pedagogy.  Although Bernstein says that his work might be used to explain the relations between doctor and patient, or even the relations between friends discussing how best to place photographs in toilets, his overriding focuses on pedagogy, and the extension to other relations can only be formal ones.  The account of how to move from theory to empirical description is interesting, but not as strong as fans might suggest, since we might well ask whether it is ever possible to separate theoretical assumptions and presuppositions from an allegedly purely empirical language of description.  For me, as my notes indicate, I am suspicious that the empirical description only ever leads to new additions to the theory, a new subdivisions of the basic formal categories: Bernstein and his associates have never yet come across a case they can't explain.

However, there is an increasingly suspicious number of hybrid cases.  At the most general level, it seems that horizontal discourses can be punctuated with vertical moments, and vice versa, for example.  The same went all along for the elaborated code of the middle class child, for example who could switch, although it seems working class children could not.  Just on that point, the picture that emerges of working class children is that they live the life of Joe the street sweeper in Bleak House, going about picking their way through tangled streets never raising their eyes to the symbolism displayed on the buildings all about them.  Bernstein seems to have discussed mass media, for example, only very late, and then to have grasped it has a hybrid pedagogy again.  While we are here, Maton says that British cultural studies is also a hybrid, and I have suggested in my notes that all academic subjects are hybrids, that pedagogy includes elements of horizontal discourse as well as vertical, unless we imagine that modern pedagogy focuses entirely on formal lectures.