The Process of Educational Attainment

  • Hiroshi Ishida
Part of the St Antony’s/Macmillan Series book series


This chapter examines the classic topic of social background and education within a comparative framework. Three overriding substantive concerns govern our analysis. The first is the issue of the equality of educational opportunities. The idea of ‘educational credentialism’ in Japan implies that opportunities for education are in general open to all members of the society, and that individuals are competing on an equal basis to achieve higher levels of education. Education therefore holds the key to social mobility to the extent that it affects the attainment of socioeconomic status. Traditional status attainment research in the United States also focused on the mobility function of education. Treiman and Terrell (1975, p. 577), for example, found that ‘in both countries [the United States and Great Britain] education is largely independent of social origins and thus serves mainly as a channel of social mobility’.


Social Capital Educational Attainment Cultural Capital Young Cohort Economic Capital 
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  1. 4.
    Almost 40 per cent of all four-year universities were concentrated in 10 metropolitan areas in 1982 in Japan (Monbusho, 1982a, p. 32). These metropolitan areas include Tokyo (23 districts), Yokohama and Kawasaki, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Hiroshima, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka and Sapporo.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    However, the difference appears to be somewhat exaggerated because many Japanese school days include sports days, cultural festival days, schools excursions and many days of preparing for these events (e.g., Rohlen, 1983, pp. 160–9). Under the American system, many of these events take place outside the normal school days, such as camping organized by volunteer groups during the summer holidays.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Hiroshi Ishida 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hiroshi Ishida
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sociology and East Asian InstituteColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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