23 SES 04 A, Education, Social Inequalities and Gender I
Schools and teachers as producers and reproducers of social inequality: How do Norwegian teachers explain the role of the school level, and what kind of opinions do they express related to which efforts may be implemented?
In Norway, as in many European countries, social background appears to be a deciding factor for recruitment to higher education (Bakken 2009, Nordi Hansen & Mastekaasa 2003, Shavit & Blossfeld 1993). There are systematic differences linked to the pupils’ social backgrounds. Raymond Boudon (1974) has presented a structure that is broadly used to analyse different explanations of social inequality regarding education. Boudon refers to three main traditions: value theory, cultural theory and positioning theory. The differences between these theories lie in which factors are assumed to be the main cause of educational inequality.
In a democratic society, the principle of equity and equal circumstances constitutes a significant foundation pillar. Education is highly relevant when it comes to social justice, and there are several different approaches for how to meet the challenge of social justice with different measures related to the organisation and contents of the various parts of the education system. Kenneth Howe (1997) makes a distinction between formal systems, compensatory systems and participant systems. The purpose of the study is to analyse which explanatory model is being used amongst the interviewed teachers, and to compare this to which measures are perceived as relevant: Do the teachers in this study point at the formal, the compensatory or the participant system? This can bring us a step towards identifying major challenges in schools’ further efforts for creating greater equality across social background.
Norwegian and international research shows that the education system cements differences regarding social and ethnic background and shows that the pupils’ opportunities are not equally distributed; on the contrary, they are systematically unequally distributed. The issue of the development of social inequality in the education system is an important one, because increasing equality has been, and is, a major political objective. “Equal right to education” is a major slogan in the construction and maintenance of the welfare state because the education system is perceived as an instrument for giving all members of society equal opportunities. Here teachers play a major role, and the perceptions and opinions of teachers will be interesting contributions to analyses in this field.
Bakken, Anders (2009) Utdanning på tvers: har foreldrenes utdanning, kjønn og minoritetsstatus like stor betydning for elevers karakterer på alle skoler? NOVA Rapport Nr 8/09 Boudon, R. (1974) Education, opportunity, and social inequality : changing prospects in Western society. New York: Wiley. Halsey, A.H. (1997) Education : culture, economy and society. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hansen, M.N. (1997) Social and economic inequality in the educational career : do the effects of social background characteristics decline? I: European sociological review, 13 (3) 305 - 321. Hansen, M.N. (1999) Utdanningspolitikk og ulikhet : rekruttering til høyere utdanning 1985-1996 Tidsskrift for samfunnsforskning (S. 172-203. Hansen, M. N. & A. Mastekaasa (2003) Utdanning, ulikhet og forandring I: Frønes I. & L. Kjølrød (red.) Det Norske samfunn s.69-98 Howe, K.R. (1997) Understanding equal educational opportunity : social justice, democracy and schooling. New York: Teachers College. Rawls, J. m.fl. (2003) Rettferdighet som rimelighet : en reformulering. Oslo: Pax. Rawls, J. m.fl. (2003) Rettferdighet som rimelighet : en reformulering. Oslo: Pax. Shavit, Y. & H.P. Blossfeld (1993) Persistent inequality : changing educational attainment in thirteen countries. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press. Waldrop, A. (2005) Antropologiske studier av klasse. I: Tidsskrift for samfunnsforskning (Årg. 46, nr 1) 63-76
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