14 SES 04 B, Policies and Action Related to Cooperation – Home-School-Community Links III
Parallel Paper Session
The analysis of the effects of social background in the trajectory of the individuals is the very core of sociological research. Over time, the context and national variations have been fostering theoretical debates on the alleged decrease of these effects in the individual’s life course (Beck, 1992; Giddens, 1991), the changing and complex nature of social inequalities and also issues of meritocracy and social mobility (Breen, 2004; Bertaux and Thompson, 1997).
Education has been one of the fields, if not the field par excellence, where traditionally these issues have been studied. The idea of the prevalence of the social background as the main factor explaining educational success is well established, at least since the renowned Coleman report (1966). Nonetheless, other interesting discussions have given attention to the “exceptional cases”, namely those where individuals from social disadvantaged milieus have unexpected high educational outcomes and/or socially ascendant trajectories (Terrail, 1990; Laurens, 1992; Cahrlot et al., 1992; Lahire, 1995; Feinstein and Peck, 2008).
The PISA instrument offers new possibilities in this matter. It is one of the most sophisticated instruments of international literacy assessment among 15 year-olds, making it is possible not only to measure the literacy skills of young people in reading, mathematics and science, but also to compare these skills across countries, schools and social backgrounds. Despite the decrease of the effect of ESCS in reading literacy performances in some European countries (between 2000 and 2009), PISA data has consistently confirmed that the effect of ESCS is still the most transversal to geographic scales and literacy domains (Carvalho et al., 2011). Nonetheless, some of the official reports have also paid special attention to the “exceptional” cases, labelling them as “resilient students” (OCDE, 2010b, 2011).
However, the so-called “resilient” cases are just one type of the exceptional cases considered in this paper. Student from advantage social backgrounds that have very low performance in reading literacy will also be considered. This will give a new contribution to the study of “exceptions” and “low chance” trajectories (Becker, 1994; Shananan and Porfel, 2007) in education, may it be due to the object of analysis in it self or due to the fact that the research is carried out through a quantitative approach. Following different methodological strategies (see methodology field bellow), our goal is to compare and explain these exceptional ascendant and descendant cases, in countries with different welfare states regimes (Esping-Andersen, 1993) and educational systems (Martins, 2010), and reading performances (2009), such as Portugal, Finland and Germany. For that we conduct logistic regression models to compare “socially disadvantaged outliers” with their disadvantaged peers, and “socially advantaged outliers” with their advantaged peers, including both individual (social, cultural and economic capital, interest, motivation, self-efficacy, among others) and school or schooling characteristics (such as a new variable of the dissonance between school classification and score in literacy, sector of school, school competition, index of educational resources, among others) in the models.
Exceptions are sociologically relevant. This research can more accurately identify what might make a difference for successful educational trajectories.
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