23 SES 11 C, Comparing and Contrasting School Choice Policies: Problematics in Comparison
Because parents interact with systems of school choice that vary across countries, we might expect to find significant national differences in their strategies. This is the case if one examines detailed national procedures and arrangements. However, when the focus is the more general framework of interaction between parents and schools, striking similarities can also be observed, especially when studying the strategies of middle-class parents, who are the most active choosers in all countries. Using an interpretative framework derived from the work of Pierre Bourdieu and data from three different sources (a comprehensive qualitative study conducted in France with 167 families, a smaller study comparing families in Paris and London and analysis of the French, British and American sociological literature on school choice), this presentation will analyze similarities and differences among middle-class parents in France, England and the United States. Interpretations will emphasize, on the one hand, similarities due to the values and resources associated to a specific position in the class structure and, on the other hand, differences due to the influence of national value systems and structural characteristics of national school systems on the repertoires and resources that parents use to evaluate schools and implement choices.
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