14 SES 05 B, Home Education in Marginalised Communities
Social class differences in educational decisions are an important explanation for the persistence of educational inequalities. These so called secondary effects (Boudon, 1974) have received wide attention in European stratification research as choice is a crucial determinant of educational attainment in most European countries (Jacob and Tieben, 2009). Research has repeatedly shown that, irrespective of prior achievement, pupils from working class backgrounds are more inclined to choose for the less academically oriented educational options at the transition from primary to secondary education than pupils from middle class families (Boone and Van Houtte, 2013; Jæger 2009; Jackson et al 2007). In North Western countries, secondary effects account for 40 to 60 per cent of educational inequalities (Jackson, 2013). Sociologists have undertaken considerable work in establishing the occurrence of secondary effects but those studies are mostly limited to research on the actual choice. In continental European research, little is known about how social background impacts on the decision-making process of parents and their children (Kleine et al., 2010). Research on the process preceding educational decision-making is mainly UK- and US-based and revolves around the relationship between social class and school choice (e.g. Gewirtz et al., 1995; Ball, 2003; Reay and Ball, 1997) in what is commonly called the educational market. School choice research shows how social class differences in cultural, social and economic capital lead to the reproduction of social inequalities in education. In their study on parental school choice and marketization, Gewirtz et al. (1995) demonstrated how cultural capital is central to our understanding of social disparities in educational decision-making. The authors distinguish between three types of parents, the skilled, semi-skilled and disconnected choosers, varying in their inclination for educational decision-making but also in their knowledge and skills required for effective engagement in the educational market. Multiple studies revealed how education policies stimulating free school choice tend to have a blind spot for the financial, social and cultural thresholds that hinder participation of mostly working class parents. Instead of fostering social integration in secondary education, these policies lead to growing social and racial segregation as middle class parents turn these policies to their advantage (Ball, 2003; Saporito 2003; Roda and Wells, 2013). Yet, this research focuses only on school choice as the UK nor the US have the rigid tracking system characteristic of many continental European countries. The present study wants to add to the knowledge on educational decision-making through an exploration of how social class shapes the process of parental educational decision-making, at the transition from primary to secondary education in Flanders (the northern part of Belgium). The central aim of this study is to understand how differential decision-making comes about in the process preceding the actual choice. We want to depict social patterns in educational decision-making and understand the dynamics and logics behind them.
Ball, S. J. 2003. Class Strategies and the Educational Marketplace: The Middle Classes and Social Advantage. London: Routledge Falmer. Boone, S., & Van Houtte, M. (2013). In search of the mechanisms conducive to class differentials in educational choice: a mixed method research. The Sociological Review. 61(3), 549-572. Boudon, R. (1974). Education, opportunity, and social inequality: Changing prospects in western society. New York: Wiley. Gewirtz, S., Ball, S. J., & Bowe, R. (1995). Markets, choice, and equity in education. Buckingham: Open University Press. Jackson, M. (Ed.) (2013). Determined to Succeed? Performance versus Choice in Educational Attainment. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Jackson, M., Erikson, R., Goldthorpe, J. H., & Yaish, M. (2007). Primary and secondary effects in class differentials in educational attainment the transition to A-level courses in England and Wales. Acta Sociologica. 50(3), 211-229. Jacob, M., & Tieben, N. (2009). Social selectivity of track mobility in secondary schools: a comparison of intra-secondary transitions in Germany and the Netherlands. European Societies. 11(5), 747-773. Jæger, M.M. (2009). Equal access but unequal outcomes: Cultural capital and educational choice in a meritocratic society. Social Forces. 87(4), 1943-1971. Kleine, L., Paulus, W., & Blossfeld, H.P. (2010). Die Formation elterlicher Bildungsentscheidungen beim Übergang von der Grundschule in die Sekundarstufe I. Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft, 12, 12, 103-125 Reay, D., & Ball, S. J. (1997). Spoilt for choice’: the working classes and educational markets. Oxford Review of Education. 23(1), 89-101. Roda, A., & Wells, A. S. (2013). School choice policies and racial segregation: Where White parents’ good intentions, anxiety, and privilege collide. American Journal of Education. 119(2), 261-293. Saporito, S. (2003). Private choices, public consequences: Magnet school choice and segregation by race and poverty. Social problems. 50(2), 181-203.
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