05 SES 03 A, School Dropout
Parallel Paper Session
The paper will be divided into three parts. It will first deal with early school leaving in Austria that has been investigated as an issue of general concern for several years now. The design and results of this empirical work, consisting of narrative interviews (Nairz-Wirth et al. 2010a; 2010b; 2011), will be summarized before the theoretical studies in habitus formation are introduced. The second part will discuss in some detail the various habitus forms or types of dealing with school absenteeism, with the aversion to learning and school, and with dropout, while part three will finally present, primarily to teachers and parents, a catalogue of measures for fighting early school leaving.
The contribution starts with a glance at the development of the social positioning of early school leavers in Austria over the last decades. It is here argued that the deterioration of their situation cannot be attributed simply to displacement processes and the changes in the work environment (for instance, due to globalisation). On the contrary, the risk of unemployment may have risen because the group of early school leavers is getting more and more marginalised, a process in which – as our study shows – stigmatisation plays a significant role. The reintegration of young dropouts is, therefore, becoming a very serious social issue. To develop successful and sustainable measures of reintegration, the different habitus types of school dropouts have to be taken into account, first and foremost by teachers who are faced with this problem. To yield good results, the teachers’ work has to be supported by the parents’ active participation in the design and implementation of prevention and intervention measures and programmes.
Part two will deal with the concept of habitus. On the basis of the analysis and evaluation of the empirical studies, a habitus typology consisting of six types could be developed. The first studies included interviews with 25 dropouts, but in the meantime another 40 early school leavers were interviewed and classified according to the typology. While formerly six habitus types were reconstructed, the later empirical work showed that another type had to be added to the typology. To the status-oriented, the ambitious, the resigned, the escapist, the nonconformist, and the disoriented, a seventh type had to be added: the „obligated“ type describes a person who does not go to school because the parents keep him or her at home to fulfil some family duty such as taking care of a sick family member, or for some other familial reason. Apart from the reconstruction of the a.m. habitus types, the analysis and evaluation of the empirical work showed another significant result: stigmatisation represents the feature common to all seven types of early school leavers.
The catalogue of measures presented in the final chapters of the paper has been designed to help teachers and parents in fighting school absenteeism and aversion (Nairz-Wirth et al 2012). These recommendations are, for the purpose of this paper, not given in detail but densely summarized.
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