07 SES 02 B, Social Justice: Refugee and Muslim Students
The objective of this research project is to understand the meanings of the experience of ‘the common’ by youngsters from poor backgrounds in Chile. As a result of the data analysis (discourses, observation records, interviews, focal groups and documents), some discursive lines have been found which are gathered around five basic categories of issues. This communication just develops the category of poverty, as it is the most dense and extensive. Within this category some stories have been found which account for the deep social segmentation installed in Chile’s social fabric, which leads to the perception of two worlds: “the haves” and “the have-nots”. For the participants in our research, the school they attend, the health service they are offered, their houses, their neighbourhood, their civil protection, and public transport do not function as services, but as something marginal, as the waste (the leftovers) for a population sector which is not worth-it has no value- because they cannot buy better quality services. In their social experience those youngsters go through a menaced life, surrounded by landfills and by the absence of the right to have rights. The loss of hope in meritocracy (i.e. equal opportunities) is shown as distances between their social positions are confirmed, what reassures them that they cannot compete with the cultural and social capital which is given by the birthplace and which the school within the Chilean context reproduces, thus preventing and precluding the appearance of a common political space for the citizens.
As it is pointed by Belleï, González and Valenzuela (2013), in just 10 years-between 1998 and 2008- public school in Chile underwent a reduction from 58% to 47% in Primary education and from 51% to 42% in Secondary education. Ultimately, in the year 2008, less than half of the Chilean students of primary and secondary education were attending the public establishments (municipalized).
The OECD 2004 (García-Huidobro, 2007; OCDE, 2004), already pointed the profound segmentation of the educational system, considered as a system structured by classes. The recent report by the OECD (2011) exhaustively indicates that Chile is one of the countries in the OECD with the greatest inequality, together with Mexico and Turkey (Ibid. 66). Therefore, although Chile has registered a considerable improvement in poverty indexes and its economical ‘growth’ has originated one of the highest per capita income (GDP) in the region, combined with a relevant descend in unemployment rates, it still remains one of the most unequal countries in Latin America (Cruces, García, Domench, & Gasparini, 2012; Hoffman & Friedman 2013; Huidobro, 2007).
For Dubet (2011), the equal opportunity model is a principle that leads to define “social groups in terms of discrimination and disadvantage” (Dubet 2011, p. 58); because the aforementioned model is founded on a fictional statistic, according to which in every generation “the individuals are proportionally distributed among all the levels of the social structure” (Dubet, 2011, p. 54). Equal opportunity reorients culpability towards the individuals; towards those individuals who have not succeeded, who have not taken advantage of that existing fiction. The unequal cannot accuse the others for their situation; it is their fault. They are where they are –supposedly- because they have not taken advantage of the opportunities which society has offered them. But, in fact, fiction is merged to mask injustice within inequality, to make it justifiable, i.e. fair. This is the case of Chile.
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