ERG SES H 11, Social Justice and Education
The main objective of this presentation is to focus on the idiosyncrasies in the pathways of women beneficiaries of a minimum income scheme SII (Social Insertion Income), analysing the role of education and training in breaking the cycle of social exclusion. The perspective intends to incorporate gender and citizenship issues, acknowledging the existence of power and gender inequalities linked with the condition of exclusion. It confers visibility to the «human action of women as active beings producing social life and social relationships» (Araújo, 2002: 106; Araújo, 2007), with the aim of understanding the heterogeneity and diversity of the pathways of SII women.
The notion of idiosyncratic character is outlined in Bernard Lahire’s (2005) in sociology of dispositions. The author proposes a critical perspective of Bourdieu’s work (1997) at the individual level, with the aim of analysing the intra-individual variation of behaviours and attitudes. In this way, the unpredictability of social behaviour becomes explicit, given the diversity of social contexts and the inner plurality of the individual, who is subjected to different socialisation contexts.
The work of equality studies also contributes to our discussion, as it argues for the recognition of the importance of affective relations in framing dispositions, the centrality of love, care and affection and the vulnerability of the women’s lives living in such conditions.
The main research questions are:
To what extent and how can other dimensions of equality, especially in terms of love, care and solidarity, counterbalance and even counteract the influence of inequality of resources and the economically generated inequalities in women’s pathways?
Do education and learning among adults develop new dispositions that promote affective equality and nurturing resources that would enable them to be successful learners, workers and carers?
The perspective of equality studies (Baker et al., 2004) in the sociology of education has a central contribution to this presentation. These authors (Lynch & Baker, 2005; Lynch, Baker & Lyons, 2009 and Lynch, Lyons & Cantillon, 2007) highlight the importance of love, care and solidarity. In neo-liberal policies, policy makers follow the model of the citizen as a rational economic actor, and knowledge that serves the economy, with no consideration given to the vulnerability and dependency of human beings.
According to Kershaw, Pulkingham and Fuller (2008), male (in)activity results in the introduction of many single mothers into welfare. As children depend on them, they are forced to prioritise childrearing at the expense of their own careers and personal goals. Activation policies do not often consider the importance of affordable childcare services, support through shelter allowances (that enable women to escape men’s violence), or meaningful training opportunities.
Maeve O’Brien (2008, 2009) suggests that «working class mothers, and those more marginally positioned, have to [invest] greater emotional capital in their children’s education than middle class mothers, although their investment often produces fewer results» (O’Brien, 2009: 162). These mothers have little access to economic, social and cultural capital, so they try to compensate with emotional resources (energy). The lack of those resources negatively impacts one’s ability to care, as individuals tend to feel anxious, depressed, lonely and burdened.
We present 2 distinctive traditions in the sociology of education: the French and the Anglo-Irish-American. Lahire’s main concerns are the development of a theory of a plural actor, the plurality of logics of action and the ways in which the social is embodied, while an egalitarian framework, addresses ethical issues, is socially engaged and has a transformative dimension. As Lynch and Payet (2011) mentioned, the issue of care is not present in the French tradition of the sociology of education, namely in its intersection with education.
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