28 SES 06, Elite Education, Intergenerational Transmission of Education and Inequality: Discourses and Practices
In most countries, the recruitment of students into tracks that train the future leaders of the nation remains strong and socially undiversified. Sociologists have pointed for years to this failing and segregated democratization (Merle, 2000), but it is only recently that governments have realized the magnitude of this persistent phenomenon.
The struggle against segregated democratization involves considering the redefinition of the characteristics, status and role of « good students ». The problem arises especially for the French educational system: the upper levels and the best tracks are confiscated by the ruling classes who show great inventiveness deploying new strategies of « distinction » (Bourdieu, 1979) to protect their children against uncertainties (Duru-Bellat & Kieffer, 2008).
The paper focuses on the strategies used by good students and their families at the end of secondary education and the begining of higher education, in order to optimize their academic performance.
Good students, like other young people, are deeply conditioned by the social and economic situations they faced during their training period. So, it is first of all to protect themselves from occupational uncertainty that they adjust a large part of their choices (Carnoy, 1999 ; Brown & Hesketh, 2004).
Bourdieu, P. (1979). La distinction. Critique sociale du jugement. Paris: Minuit. Brown, P., & Hesketh, A. (2004). The mismanagement of talent: Employability and jobs in the knowledge economy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Carnoy, M. (1999). Globalization and Educational Reform What Planners Need to Know. Paris UNESCO. Daverne, C. & Dutercq, Y. (2013). Les bons élèves. Expériences et cadres de formation. Paris: PUF. Duru-Bellat M. & Kieffer A. (2008), Du baccalauréat à l’enseignement supérieur en France : déplacement et recomposition des inégalités, Population, vol. 63, 1, 123-157. Merle, O. (2000). Le concept de démocratisation de l'institution scolaire : une typologie et sa mise à l'épreuve. Population, 55-1, 15-50.
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