Although facilitating community participation in disadvantaged schools can be difficult, this article argues that, given the structuring of schooling in contemporary western democracies, it is even more difficult than we might imagine. Drawing on Bourdieu, we attempt to elucidate the complex relations between schooling and socio·cultural contexts which can lead to inequalities of opportunity for parent participation in schooling and which work to maintain disadvantage for marginalised students. Recognitive justice, with its positive regard for social difference and centrality of social democratic processes, offers us another way of advancing this discussion beyond simplistic attributions of blame. In particular, a polities of recognition is concerned with opening up the processes of schooling to groups who often have been excluded. This article uses interview data from a small Australian secondary school located in a regional community with high welfare dependency and a large indigenous population.