28 SES 12 B, The Place of Students in Education Policies
The presentation will focus on the results of an ongoing research about friendship in socioeconomically diverse schools.
Either by immigration waves or socioeconomic segregation, social diversity and cohesion have become notable subjects of concern globally. Drawing on the case of Chile, my study wonders how can democratic XXI century countries respond to increasing levels of social diversity and promote social cohesion? Specifically, I focus on the educational system and its possibilities to promote the development of inclusive dispositions towards the ethnic or social other, through building socially diverse school environments.
The paper discusses literature around school mix (the school’s social diversity) and school mixing (the interactions between students/parents from different backgrounds), and their possible relationship with the development of inclusive attitudes. Studies discussing the possible effects of school mix on democratic learning argue that both inclusive and exclusionary dispositions may emerge depending on the form heterogeneity takes, particularly depending on whether there is school mixing.
In general, studies show that parents tend to choose schools where their populations have similar background than theirs, for example in socioeconomic or ethnic terms. However, research has also identified some groups of families -from middle-class- valuing social diversity in the school in order to immerse their children in the experience of difference (e.g. Vincent et al, 2016) and promote the development of multicultural capital (Reay et al., 2011), namely the ability to engage with different people. Nevertheless, even in these cases of school mix, research has found mixing and friendship are more unusual.
In this scenario, the research questions of the study are:
a) How are the family dispositions towards school mix and school mixing in a socially diverse school in Chile?
b) What are the school and family processes shaping families´ dispositions towards school mix and school mixing?
Using a sociological framework, I propose to analyse the dispositions towards otherness through Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of habitus or dispositions (e.g. Bourdieu, 1990), that is, subjective schemes of doing, thinking and feeling at the basis of people´s practices. Dispositions have some regularity since the habitus defines limits to what is possible to perceive, to think and to do, and these limits are, in turn, the limits of the habitus´ historic and socially situated production, namely one´s past experiences. Such experiences, particularly the early ones, restrict unpredictable behaviour innovations. In this framework, the families´ dispositions towards school mix and mixing have to be analysed in relation with the families´ social position (e.g. educational level) and past experiences (e.g. the parents´ school experience), as well as with their experiences in other areas of their life (e.g. use of free time).
On the other hand, and considering Wendy Bottero´s (2009, 2010) interpretation of the concept of habitus, I understand that dispositions are the result of intersubjective negotiations and, as such, they can change. In spite of the importance of early experiences -which are highly restricted to the intimate social environment of the family, people´s dispositions continue being shaped by every social experience with other never totally identical people. In this regard, shifts in social connections, particularly with more socially heterogeneous individuals, may lead to disruptions of habitus, meaning ambiguities and ambivalences that foster reflexivity and a critical distance from one´s own situation, which ultimately may promote changes in habitus. In this framework, the analysis of the families´ dispositions towards school mix and mixing has to consider the intersubjective negotiations involved in the interactions amongst people from different backgrounds (e.g. do they interact only in the school or also at home?), as well as in their narratives (e.g. how do families define the ´desirable´ and ´undesirable´ students?).
An ethnographically oriented case study in two schools was carried out in Chile between February and June 2017, in that it is a key country to observe not only an exceptional marketization but also one of the most socioeconomic segregated education system (OECD, 2011) and, consequently, homogeneous student populations. In addition, Chile is currently in an unusual process of educational reforms attempting to promote inclusion and diversity of school populations, which makes it a privileged lab scenario to explore potentialities and limitations to take advantage of such a diversity. To select the schools, I conducted a statistical analysis of the Chilean schools' socioeconomic diversity creating an Index of Social Diversity which combined information of the parents' incomes and educational level, provided in surveys; also, I was looking for schools which explicitly defined themselves as being socially inclusive. Finally, I selected two private subsidised schools located in Santiago, the capital city of Chile. School A is placed in a rich council of Santiago and has a traditional and Catholic emphasis, as well as a focus on discipline and academic excellence; it has primary and secondary educational levels and was founded in 1965 with the explicit orientation to include the children of poor people working in the council; the school's population is mostly middle-class. School B, in turn, is located in a poor council of Santiago and has an alternative, flexible and personalized educational focus; it only has primary level and around 15 students per class; it was founded in 2013 with an explicit orientation to students with SEN; the school's population is mostly middle-class. In each school, I conducted systematic observations of the breaks and installations, informal conversations and semi-structured interviews with principals, deputy principals, teachers and parents. In total, I conducted 36 audio-recorded interviews (19 in one school and 17 in the other).
So far, I have analysed the data produced in School A and at the moment of the conference I will present the analysis of both schools as well as the cross-cases analysis. The general findings in School A suggest that this is a school where the socioeconomic diversity is predominantly sustained on sociocultural similarity. I identified two interpretative axes to support this statement: a) Cultural assimilation tendency based on a strong middle-class school culture: The school focus on certain middle-class values and attitudes is very clear to all (e.g. Higher expectations in relation to education; middle-class ways of speaking are promoted). All the people I talked to adhered to this culture and the families who enter the school tend to rapidly engage in this culture. b) Working-class families who arrive to the school already have what I called a bridged habitus: In part, they have a middle-class habitus as most of them have lived in the council for a long time and have an intimate contact with middle-class families (mothers working as housemaids and living in the houses they worked in, so their children have been raised there). Additionally, they are very grateful for the possibility to be at this school, so they adopt a very active attitude and adopt the prevalent codes of the school. In this sense, this seems to be a school where the value of promoting equal opportunities (defined in relation to the access to middle-classes' ways of living) is more important than the recognition of socioeconomic differences. One of the questions that these findings open up is whether it is important to recognize social differences when they are based on socioeconomic inequality, as it is the case of social class distinctions. Also, which other ways of social inclusion in schools could be promoted in segregated countries such as Chile?
Bottero, W. (2009). Relationality and social interaction. British Journal of Sociology, 60(2), 399-420. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-4446.2009.01236.x Bottero, W. (2010). Intersubjectivity and Bourdieusian Approaches to "Identity." Cultural Sociology, 4(1), 3-22. http://doi.org/10.1177/1749975509356750 Bourdieu, P. (1990). The logic of practice. Cambridge MA: Polity Press. Retrieved from https://monoskop.org/images/8/88/Bourdieu_Pierre_The_Logic_of_Practice_1990.pdf OECD. (2011). Education at a Glance 2011. OECD indicators. Education. http://doi.org/10.1787/eag-2011-en Reay, D., Crozier, G., & James, D. (2011). White Middle-Class Identities and Urban Schooling. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Vincent, C., Neal, S., & Iqbal, H. (2016). Encounters with diversity: Childrens friendships and parental responses. Urban Studies, 53, 1-16. http://doi.org/10.1177/0042098016634610
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
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