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Education Differentiation Within Contemporary Globalization: A Meta-ethnographic Analysis of the Conferral of Power and Status in Modern Education Systems

  • Dennis Beach
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter explores the issues lifted in Chap.  1 against a background comprised by international research. It has been composed by firstly searching for ethnographic research on education differentiation and social reproduction, and then making a meta-ethnographic analysis of the research products that were found. There are some strong reasons for this choice of methods. They are firstly that ethnography is most often understood and used as a form of research that aims at gaining inside and producing a deeper insight about a certain people’s knowledge and social culture, which it then tries to represent in writing in a manner that provides extremely valuable local knowledge that cannot be produced by other means but that can be carefully generalised, though not through standard statistical forms of generalisation. The anticipation is that by learning from everyday interactions and informants it can bring new knowledge to bear from different and emphatically bottom up perspectives. The value of an ethnographic approach has been identified by Bourdieu and associates in 1963 (Bourdieu, Darbel, Rivet and Siebel) and 1973 (Bourdieu, Chamboredon and Passeron); as vastly important to social theorizing, following for instance Durkheim. It involves a systematic historical documentation and scientific analysis of a culture or cultural phenomena.

Meta-ethnography takes advantage of the knowledge produced by detailed insider ethnographic accounts by making cross-case translations of meaning from a specifically selected collection of ethnographic research on related issues to produce an interpretive inductive synthesis from these ethnographic research reports. The intention is one of not merely summarising evidence on the topic of interest, but also trying to arrive at a new interpretation of the meanings that have been generated about that topic.

Using meta-ethnography the chapter identifies again some of the points made concerning education selection and differentiation and social and cultural reproduction in education in Chap.  1. It notes that although there has been a significant global expansion of education in recent decades, not the least concerning the education of young women from poor backgrounds and children of the poor generally, its effects on social equality have been limited, as the gendered social class, ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds of pupils have continued to have a strong influence on what kind of participation pupils enjoy in education settings and which levels of performance and educational success they attain. Children’s educational opportunities and achievements are clearly circumscribed by class background, changes in educational selectivity over time are of a very limited range and the social selectivity of systems of education has remained strong.

In line with the work on structures of injustice by Iris Marion Young, primarily two forms of disabling constraints are identified as operating consistently across international regimes: oppression and domination. As Young points out, these constraints include distributive patterns but they also involve matters that cannot easily be assimilated to the logic of distribution, such as decision-making procedures, division of labor, and culture.

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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dennis Beach
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Education and Special EducationUniversity of GothenburgGöteborgSweden

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