RN10 - Sociology of Education


RN coordinator:

Vasiliki Kantzara, Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, Athens, Greece



Education and Social Inequalities: Key Issues, Challenges and Explanations

Education is an institution of paramount importance to sustaining society, historically and at present; its institutionalisation during the 18th and 19th century was thought of as a radical step in promoting social equity.

Sociology of education has had a vested interest in the study of education and its relation to society. Some authors even argue that the study of inequality has founded the discipline itself during the 20th century. Numerous studies by Marxist inspired sociologists (e.g. Anyon, Bourdieu, Willis) have extensively demonstrated that education reproduces society and in doing so, transmits the existing social inequalities to future generations. Thus, one could argue that education is also an important institution through which social inequality is sustained.

The massive expansion of education after the Second World War seemingly resolved some of the issues pertaining to equal access while facilitating school achievement. Many studies from a functionalist or even neo-liberal perspective show that social inequalities in and through education persist, though they do not use these terms. Moreover, many sociologist of education agree that equal opportunities and meritocracy, the two principles upon which the education system functions - and allegedly guarantee equality - do not suffice, and education still reproduces a host of different inequalities. Next to classical social divisions of social class or gender, new ones have been added, such as age, ethnicity, religious beliefs or sexual orientation.

At present there is a body of scholarship that spans 50-60 years of research on the aforementioned topic; social inequalities in and through education continues to be one of the main study fields within sociology of education.

For the ESA conference in Prague, as a research network, we are pleased to invite abstracts that address topics within the above theme both theoretically and empirically. As an indication, but not limited to, we would be interested in answers to the following questions:

What are the major developments in inequality research (in education)?

What are the major theoretical and/or methodological issues involved in the study of inequality?

What theoretical and/or empirical tools have been developed?

What forms of inequality have been most prominent through time?

What changes can be identified both in studies and education?

What changes have sociological studies brought about a national educational system? 

How does educational policy respond to inequalities in and through education?

How does globalisation affect inequalities or equities in education?

How does the current crisis affect education in terms of inequalities and/or equity?

What factors have increased their influence on educational inequalities in the context of the current financial crisis?

Abstracts may not exceed the 250 words and should preferably include:

a. Name and affiliation of author(s) (no more than three),              

b. title, c. theme of paper, d. question or aim of paper, e. theoretical and/or methodological elaboration, and f. main result/conclusion.

Deadline and other information regarding the electronic abstract submission and other conference details are available at the ESA 12th conference site: www.ESA12conference.eu

Sessions (provisional):

  1. General session
  2. Theoretical issues in studying social inequalities and education
  3. Methodological issues in relation to educational inequalities
  4. Inequality in education relating to gender and ethnicity
  5. Studies on social class and inequalities in education
  6. Higher education and inequalities
  7. Educational policy in relation to educational inequalities
  8. Financial crisis affecting educational inequalities
  9. Globalisation and social inequalities in education
  10. Explaining inequalities in education

(Note: if your topic is not listed above, please submit to session 1. General session)

Notes for authors

Authors are invited to submit their abstract either to the general session or any specific session. Please submit only to one session. After abstract evaluation, coordinators will have the chance to transfer papers between sessions where applicable.

Abstracts should not exceed 250 words. Each paper session will have the duration of 1.5 hours. Normally sessions will include 4 papers.

Abstracts must be submitted online to the submission platform, see below. Abstracts sent by email cannot be accepted. Abstracts will be peer-reviewed and selected for presentation by the Research Network; the letter of notification will be sent by the conference software system in early April 2015.

Abstract submission deadline (extended):                                                                                                15th February 2015

Abstract submission platform:                                                                                          www.esa12thconference.eu

If you have further questions on the conference, please visit the conference website. For further information on the Research Network, please visit www.europeansociology.org.