How do the Patterns of Social Inequality in Education Work During School Transitions? Essay

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Dependent variable (that I would like to explain) A great number of theoretical concepts and empirical studies in sociology point out that reaching of high educational achievement is predetermined by social origin (Boudon 1974; Bourdieu and Passeron 1971; Ditton 1992). Interesting is here the finding, that educational reproduction is influenced by school achievements only to a limited extent. In other words, the high achiever in educational attainment are not necessarily the high achiever in school grades (Jackson 2013). These findings contradict the meritocratic and performance oriented perception of educational system and occupational assignment. Furthermore it was identified that, the unequal positioning take place in successive steps, which are solidified through the school transitions, and the achieved social positions are legitimized (Ribolits 2006). Therefore, I would like to measure who is privileged to attain the highest existing educational pathway and how. Educational attainment is therefore the central dependent variable in my research. (It will be measured in one concrete case, thus in one specific school transition).

Independent variables and relevant aspects As the decision about the educational transition cannot be simply understood in the sense of one rational-choice, it is not only taken as a certain choice at one concrete time point , but rather as a longterm process. Therefore the processhas to be reflected in the measurement as well as the effect of the long therm influence of social environment. In the childhood shape the child mostly its family and its impact is carried out through three central independent variables: economic, cultural and social capital. The school grades is the next used independent variable, as the measuring of the relation between the school grades and educational attainment allows us to estimate the divergence from the merit principle. Here is expected only a moderate effect (Boudon 1974; Jackson 2013). The final important independent variable is the educational aspiration as the recent research shows that there are huge differences in attribution of meaning to the education under different social groups. It is particularly interesting is to measure the relation between the school grades and educational aspirations in context of country of origin, as this relation is the least explained.

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In order to understand the decision-making processes in their complexity, it has to be profoundly analyzed not only the direct impact of each independent variable on dependent variable but also the interrelations between the independent variables. Most challenging is to identify particularly the indirect ways of influencing of social environment on education. Peer group, teachers or health could be also considered as a independent variables influencing the transition processes. However, in order to eliminate the complexity of the model with focus on effects of origin, these variables will be not integrated into the model.

Concepts Bourdieu (1983) distinguishes between three basic types of capital: economic, cultural and social, which are partly convertible. However, this exchange is not a simple transaction, there is involved much more effort behind the exchange work. As the results of Bourdieu's analyses show that economic capital, respectively the parents' income has no autonomous effect on school performance and educational transitions, he pays particular attention to effect of 'cultural art' (Bourdieu 2001, pp. 26-27). He divides cultural capital into three forms: in an incorporated, objectified and institutionalized. Achieved educational qualifications and titles of the parents are not the most important factors in reproduction of social status, the important role is ascribed to the incorporated cultural capital in the form of permanent dispositions, which are shaped in early childhood in a family in from of cultural competencies which evocate a positive attitude towards learning even before the begin of the school attendance (Bourdieu 1983, pp. 185-187). Social capital is defined by Bourdieu as the aggregate of existing and potential resources associated with the existence of a permanent network of more or less institutionalized relations of mutual respect or recognition (Bourdieu 1983, p. 190).

Model The model consists of six variables. Socioeconomic status of the family, which is understood as a trigger of the social inequality in education is divided in three central independent variables, economic (EC), cultural (CC) and social (SC) capital. Despite their interrelation each of them effect educational attainment (E.att) differently. Their indirect effect on educational attainment is achieved through their prior impact on the school grades (Grades), as well as through the influence of the educational aspirations (Aspir). The understanding of the intermediary position and interrelation between the grades and aspirations may contribute to the profound explanation of patterns of reproduction of social inequality in education.

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