05 SES 08 B, Urban Education & Children and Youth at Risk
Parallel Paper Session
From the early 1980s onward in the US a vast amount of studies emerged dealing with the consequences of part-time employment of middle and high school students. Starting point of this research was the growing number of teenagers that was taking paid jobs. In Flanders—the northern, Dutch-speaking part of Belgium—part-time working by adolescents is not as widespread as it is in the US. Most adolescents do work during holidays, but working during the school year is not that common. The impression exists that mainly lower track students—students attending technical or vocational tracks—are engaged in paid jobs during the school year. This is not surprising: these are not only the less demanding tracks, as such leaving time to have a job, but research has shown that especially students who are detached from school are attracted to paid work, as an alternative route to status and success (Bachman and Schulenberg 1993; Entwisle et al. 1999; Schoenhals et al. 1998; Warren et al. 2000; Warren 2002). Therefore, if part-time working is more prevalent in lower tracks in Flanders, a pertinent question is whether this is due to a certain culture in those tracks making students attracted to paid work. Given society’s undervaluation of technical and vocational education, it is not surprising to find that students in technical/vocational schools have a higher sense of futility than students in academic schools. Furthermore, this sense of futility is shared by students of the same school, giving rise to cultures of futility in technical/vocational schools (Van Houtte and Stevens 2010). It can be assumed that this futility culture pushes students into the direction of paid work to overcome the sensed pointlessness of going to school. Additionally, as it has been shown that lower track students tend to perform worse, to achieve less, to fail more often, and to be more prone to dropping out than higher track students (Duru-Bellat and Mingat 1997; Gamoran and Mare 1989; Hallinan and Kubitschek 1999), it is the question whether this part-time working can be taken responsible for the stated poor educational attainment of lower track students. The first objective of this study is to examine whether part-time working during the school year is more prevalent in technical/vocational schools than it is in academic schools, and whether this might be due to the culture of futility in technical/vocational schools or rather to the plain fact that technical/vocational schools are less demanding, providing students with time to carry out a job. For working students we will examine whether students in technical/vocational schools tend to work more hours a week, and whether this can be explained by culture of futility, or rather by the less demanding nature of technical/vocational tracks. Secondly, we will investigate whether the higher tendency to fail and to dropout in technical/vocational schools is due to the fact that students in these schools are more likely to work, and by the fact that they tend to work more hours a week, than students in academic schools do.
Bachman, J. & Schulenberg, J. (1993) How part-time work intensity relates to drug use, problem behavior, time use, and satisfaction among high school seniors: Are these consequences or merely correlates? Developmental Psychology, 29(2), 220-235. Duru-Bellat, M. & Mingat, A. (1997) La constitution de classes de niveau dans les collèges; Les effets pervers d' une pratique à visée égalisatrice. Revue française de Sociologie, 38, 759-789. Entwisle, D., Alexander, K., Olson, L. & Ross, K. (1999) Paid work in early adolescence: Developmental and ethnic patterns. Journal of Early Adolescence, 19, 363-388. Gamoran, A. & Mare, R.D. (1989) Secondary school tracking and educational inequality: compensation, reinforcement, or neutrality? American Journal of Sociology, 94, 1146-1183. Hallinan, M.T. & Kubitschek, W.N. (1999) Curriculum differentiation and high school achievement. Social Psychology of Education, 3(1-2), 41-62. Schoenhals, M., Tienda, M. & Schneider, B. (1998) The educational and personal consequences of adolescent employment. Social Forces, 77(2), 723-761. Van Houtte, M. & Stevens, P.A.J. (2010) The culture of futility and its impact on study culture in technical/vocational schools in Belgium. Oxford Review of Education, 36(1), 23-43. Warren, J. (2002) Reconsidering the relationship between student employment and academic outcomes. A new theory and better data. Youth & Society, 33(3), 366-393. Warren, J., LePore, P. & Mare, R. (2000) Employment during high school: Consequences for students' grades in academic courses. American Educational Research Journal, 37(4), 943-969.
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