05 SES 04, Marginality and Exclusion
This paper address two inter-related questions:
1) How to identify and systemically review research addressing the growing educational inequalities in Iceland, Finland, and the Netherlands, which is often overlooked because of language barriers?
2) What do the findings of a multi-lingual systemic review suggest in terms of selecting, using, and where necessary extending one or more analytic frameworks up to the task of enabling and constraining the further interrogation of educational marginalisation and inclusivity in these three counties?
Worldwide inequalities are on the rise. It is well understood that over the past 40 years or so there has been an explosion of inequality among more and less privileged children in the United States (Putnam 2016). In part due to the isolation of research literatures in native languages such as Finnish, Dutch and Icelandic, what is less well documented and understood is that social divides and gaps in children’s objective life chances are getting wider even in relatively egalitarian welfare states of Northern European countries. Education can play a mitigating as well as a reinforcing role in the production of inequalities. Yet even in traditionally more egalitarian and (still) homogenous countries of Northern Europe, access to high quality education is increasingly being distributed in unequal ways. In other words, it seems that what as has unfolded most obviously in the US is starting to befall countries such as the three we focus on here: Finland, Iceland and the Netherlands.
While some of the research relevant to growing educational inequities in these three countries has been published in English, some has not. Filling a gap in the knowledge base, the empirical core of this paper therefore offers a “multilingual systematic review” (Mazenod 2017) synthesizing work in English as well as the three native languages in question. As the paper demonstrates, the growing inequalities in life chances of children in Iceland, Finland and the Netherlands relate to increasing social inequalities more generally but also to the way educational systems are organised both in terms of access (admission and funding policies) and the ways in which diversity within student populations are recognised and dealt with on the ground. As we illustrate, with residential segregation on the rise, the role of where one lives is also increasingly affecting educational opportunities.
So the first goal of this paper is therefore to identify systemically review research relevant to (dealing with) the threat of growing educational inequalities in these three countries which is often overlooked because of language barriers. The second aim of this paper is to demonstrate why and how our systemic review including all too frequently overlooked research on exclusion and inclusivity entails the need to critically engage – and, where necessary, to extend – Pierre Bourdieu’s synthetic analytic framework. Informed by recent work on Bourdieu’s theoretical vision of contemporary fields of education as well as on work extending his contributions in different directions (e.g., Swartz, 2013; Gorski, 2013), we show why our empirical focus on the mechanisms involved in social and institutional processes systematically marginalizing certain pupils and advantaging others leads us to base our comparative research on the triune of concepts re-crafted by the social theorist most often (if simplistically) associate with class-based intergenerational reproduction (Paulle, van Heerikhuizen and Emirbayer 2012). That is, utilizing specifically Bourdieu’s three central and interdependent concepts (i.e., field, capital, and habitus) as well as more generally approach to on-going contestations and collaborations allows us to bring together, in coherent fashion, our examinations of macro-level educational (and residential) dynamics, meso-level educational policies and micro-level coping practices associated with the mixing of socially, ethnically, and ability-wise diverse educational environments.
In this paper, we aim to identify and systemically review research relevant to (dealing with) the threat of growing educational inequalities in the three countries, Finland, the Netherlands and Iceland, which is often overlooked because of language barriers. The method utilized for this paper, known as multilingual systematic review (Mazenod, 2017; Petticrew and Robert 2006; Gough, Oliver, and Thomas 2017), is based on a sequence of orderly reviews carried out at the same time and within one overarching project. The strength of a systematic review is that it is guided by a specific, explicit, protocol. In this paper the review process proceeds as suggested by Petticrew and Roberts (2006). First, the inclusion and exclusion criteria suitable for the research topic will be located. This is followed by a comprehensive literature search with suitable Boolean algorithm. Results will be sifted through, and the final included studies will be analyzed with qualitative thematic content analysis (Schreier 2012). The studies included in this review 1) relate to research on marginalization and inclusion and in education, 2) focus on Finland, the Netherlands and Iceland and, 3) are peer reviewed studies/studies and policy documents, 4) were published between 1997 and 2017. This method allows a comparative analysis of relevant current tendencies. It helps to overcome the language barriers that hinder the understanding of marginalization and inequality in these Northern countries, hence it will enable the comparison (and the conceptualization) of terminology and findings relating to the research topic.
During the last few decades, the forces contributing to extreme increases in levels of educational inequality characterizing some countries such as the United States have been kept at bay in in the Netherlands, Finland and Iceland. Nonetheless, ‘early warning signals’ if not ‘clear and present dangers’ are manifesting in these three comparatively homogenous countries despite relatively strong welfare state provisions and polices undergirding educational and social systems. Studies published in the three countries’ native languages have contributed to these signals being overlooked. Thus the value of our systemic multi-lingual literature review, which we expect to demonstrate the following: To different degrees within and across the three countries – and in terms of (intersections of) class, ethnicity, gender and ability – public school systems are showing tendencies towards greater segmentation and less equal outcomes. In many urban areas, these tendencies relate to parental school choice policies as well as to (increasing) residential segregation attached to (more or less clearly ethno-racialized) social class divisions as well as to children’s needs for support. Significant and increasing variance in pupil achievement has been observed within school classes if not between schools. At the same time, the expectation is that this review will also highlight specific polices, programs and grounded (pedagogic) practices that may be able to mitigate (if not redirect) the tendencies towards greater inequity and segregation that are now coming into view especially in the urban centers of these three countries. The findings turned up by this systemic review bringing together what are often isolated literatures underscores the utility and indeed the urgency of comparative research informed by Bourdieu’s conceptual approach. The review also offers an empirically grounded demonstration of how evolving uses of Bourdieu’s conceptual framework can be extended in potentially useful ways in and far beyond the settings focused on here.
Florian, L. (2008). Special or inclusive education: Future Trends. British Journal of Special Education,35 (4), 202-208. Gorski, P. S. (Ed.). (2013). Bourdieu and historical analysis. Duke University Press. Gough, D., Oliver, S., & Thomas, J. (Eds.). (2017). An introduction to systematic reviews. Sage. Kyriakides, L., Creemers, B. P. M., & Antoniou, P. (2009). Teacher behaviour and student outcomes: Suggestions for research on teacher training and professional development. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25, 12-23. Mazenod, A. 2017. “Lost in Translation? Comparative Education Research and the Production of Academic Knowledge.” Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 1-17 Petticrew, M. & Robert, H. 2006. Systematic Reviews in the Social Sciences: A Practical Guide. Oxford: Blackwell. Paulle, B., van Heerikhuizen, B., & Emirbayer, M. (2012). Elias and Bourdieu. Journal of Classical Sociology, 12(1), 69-93. Putnam, R. D. (2016). Our kids: The American dream in crisis. Simon and Schuster. Schreier, M. 2012. Qualitative Content Analysis in Practice. London: SAGE Publications. Swartz, D. L. (2013). Symbolic power, politics, and intellectuals: The political sociology of Pierre Bourdieu. University of Chicago Press. Sleeter, C. (2012). Confronting the marginalization of culturally responsive pedagogy. Urban Education,47 (3), 562-584.
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