ERG SES H 11, Social Justice and Education
In my PhD thesis I explore the role of hegemonic languages in the production of those who are seen as ‘educationally alienated’. I assume, that social inequality is not merely an effect of school education, but is (re)produced there. This has been already discussed by Louis Althusser and others and also has been proved by current international comparative studies on education like PISA. That goes for the Austrian educational system (Bruneforth et al. 2016) which the ongoing study focuses on as well as for other European educational systems (European Commission 2016). Again and again, it is shown that crucial factors for succeeding in or failing in acquiring a formal school qualification is the students’ background concerning social class and ethnicity/race. Access to cultural capital (Bourdieu) seems to be still paramount for educational success. Schools expect the domination of the German language as well as the command of an academic register. The hegemonic language is not only the language of instruction but furthermore, the only legitimate language in the context of schools (Gogolin 1994, Dirim/Mecheril 2010). Hence, a ‘normal’ student biography starts in an Austria school. Moreover, the normative student speaks the dominant language (basically the way Austrian middleclass talk). Therefore, the reality of a diverse migration society is completely ignored. Stabilizing the imagined normality of a homogenous student body plays an active role in the reproduction of social inequality and comes with tremendous consequences for those who do not fit the picture of the ideal student, e.g. students who enter the Austrian school system later than the majority. This group of students start their school career in other, mostly non-German speaking, countries and therefore enter the Austrian school system without barely being able to speak German.
In my thesis, I focus on the experiences of exactly these students and their recounts of when and how language abilities became relevant in their schooling. My epistemological interest lies particularly in the dynamics between the knowledge production and the dominance of the German language. Therefore, I focus on experiences of nation-ethno-cultural belonging and non-belonging (Mecheril 2003) as also on the reproduction of social inequality.
Accordingly, my research questions are: When and how do language abilities or the lack of abilities become relevant for lateral entrants in the Austrian school system? And, How do these experiences become relevant in school biographies as well as for subjectivation processes?
The study draws mainly on poststructuralist approaches which do not presuppose an a priori student subject, but on the contrary, analyse processes of subjectivation whereby the subject is (re-)produced as an effect of discourses (e.g. Hall, Butler, Spivak). Accordingly, iterative experiences of nation-ethno-cultural belonging or non-belonging (Mecheril 2003) are being seen as being crucial in the production of subjects and agency (as e.g. Rose 2012 empirically has shown).
Although the focus of the inquiry is the national education system of Austria, the expected results will contribute to the international discussion on migration societies, their linguistic heterogeneity. And hence, address how nationally framed schools deal with the reality of migration specifically regarding the reproduction of inequality. This seems to me, is of enormous relevance in times of migration and refuge which go hand in hand with a growing global inequality.
In my presentation I will show first results of my data analysis.
Bruneforth, Michael. 2016. Nationaler Bildungsbericht Österreich 2015, Band 2: Fokussierte Analysen bildungspolitischer Schwerpunktthemen. Graz: Leykam, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17888/nbb2015-2. European Commission. 2016. PISA 2015: EU performance and initial conclusions regarding education policies in Europe. Dirim, İnci, and Paul Mecheril. 2010. “Die Sprache(n) Der Migrationsgesellschaft.” In Migrationspädagogik, edited by Paul Mecheril, María do Mar Castro Varela, İnci Dirim, Annita Kalpaka, and Claus Melter, 99–120. Weinheim u.a.: Beltz. Gogolin, Ingrid. 1994. Der monolinguale Habitus der multilingualen Schule. Münster; New York: Waxmann. Küsters, Ivonne. 2009. Narrative Interviews: Grundlagen und Anwendungen. 2. Aufl. Hagener Studientexte zur Soziologie. Wiesbaden: VS, Verl. für Sozialwiss. Mannitz, Sabine. 2006. Die verkannte Integration: Eine Langzeitstudie unter Heranwachsenden aus Immigrantenfamilien. Bielefeld: transcript. Massumi, Mona et al..2015. Neu zugewanderte Kinder und Jugendliche im deutschen Schulsystem. vom Mercator-Institut für Sprachförderung und Deutsch als Zweitsprache und vom Zentrum für LehrerInnenbildung der Universität zu Köln, Köln. Mecheril, Paul. 2003. Prekäre Verhältnisse: Über natio-ethno-kulturelle (Mehrfach-) Zugehörigkeit. Auflage: 1. Münster; New York: Waxmann. Rose, Nadine. 2012. Migration als Bildungsherausforderung: Subjektivierung und Diskriminierung im Spiegel von Migrationsbiographien. transcript. Strauss, Anselm and Juliet Corbin. 1996. Grundlagen Qualitativer Sozialforschung. Weinheim: BELTZ Psychologie Verlags Union. Witzel, Andreas. 2000. “The Problem-centered Interview.” Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research 1 (1). http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1132., Abrufzeitpunkt 15.08.2015.
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