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The sociology of

education
A Gary Dworkin, Jeanne Ballantine, Ari Antikainen, Maria Ligia
Barbosa, David Konstantinovskiy, Lawrence J Saha,
Shaheeda Essack, Jason Chang, Marios Vryonides and
Antnio Teodoro Research Committee 04

abstract Because education is an essential institution in society, the sociology of education must focus
on an array of salient social issues, many with vital policy implications. Following a discussion of the var-
ious theoretical orientations and methods used by sociologists of education, this article, which was writ-
ten by members of the Board of the Sociology of Education Research Committee (RC04), examines a
selection of these significant and emerging issues.
keywords education globalization educational accountability lifelong learning peer groups
teachers

Sociology of education makes contributions to the cation also derives its conceptual and theoretical roots
understanding of an important institution present in from the contributions of Marx and Weber. Marx laid
every society education. In the following article down the foundations for conflict theory and later
members of the Board of the ISA Sociology of conflict theorists have explored the ideological role of
Education Research Committee, RC04, explore the state in education as it reproduces and maintains
aspects of the field including theory, methods, emerg- class statuses. Weber developed a multidimensional
ing issues, stratification, inequalities in developing approach in which structure, human agency, the
countries, politics of education and multiculturalism, material and the normative were combined.
educational assessment and accountability, peer group Building on this early foundation, several more
effects, school-to-work transitions, adult and lifelong recent directions have emerged. Among structural
learning, teacher supply, demand, status and morale, conflict theories, Pierre Bourdieus (1984) theory of
and social control. Attention is also paid to emerging practice, Basil Bernsteins (1996) theory of language
issues in the sociology of education. codes and Randall Collinss (1979) Weberian theory
of social exclusion have had a major impact on con-
temporary sociology of education. According to
Theory in the sociology of education Bourdieus (1984) theory of praxis, the social world
consists of the history of accumulation. Education as
As a major contributor to the field of sociology and to a part of social and cultural reproduction is linked to
the testing of established theories, sociology of educa- cultural capital (capital based on students social set-
tion plays a vital role in the continuing development tings and opportunities that provide knowledge of the
of sociology. mile Durkheim is generally considered world derived from live experiences) and subsequent
to be the founder of the sociology of education, hav- social differences between students. Similarly, in
ing provided a sociological conceptualization of edu- Bernsteins code theory (1975) he explores the per-
cation as a system that transmits societys culture and formance of working-class students and argues that
social order to new generations. The sociology of edu- socialization is based on class. The dominant school

Sociopedia.isa
2013 The Author(s)
2013 ISA (Editorial Arrangement of Sociopedia.isa)
A Gary Dworkin et al., 2013, The sociology of education, Sociopedia.isa, DOI: 10.1177/2056846013122

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Dworkin et al. Sociology of education

pedagogy, in addition to language and culture, repro- Methods in the sociology of education
duces social differences between classes. In
Colemans (1988) view, in the formation of human Researchers in the sociology of education have
capital, social capital based on trust and community always used a variety of methods in the study of edu-
(e.g. schools relationship with students families and cational organizations and processes. From the
communities) plays a central role. Social capital beginning, the standard methods of the day charac-
refers to the social resources and family networks stu- terized educational research. Both qualitative and
dents bring to their educations that affect their quantitative research strategies prevailed, and often
opportunities and achievement. The study of such the two were mixed. This is what we find in early
material and symbolic resources in relation to educa- studies such as Hollingsheads Elmstowns Youth
tion has enriched our understanding of differences in (Hollingshead, 1948) and Colemans Adolescent
educational opportunities. At the same time, it has Society (Coleman, 1961), in the United States;
opened up opportunities to affect such differences Hargreavess Social Relations in a Secondary School
through educational policies. (Hargreaves, 1967) and Fords Social Class and the
Symbolic interactionism and social construction- Comprehensive School (Ford, 1969) in the United
ism have been major sources of action theories in the Kingdom; Connell et al.s Growing up in an
sociology of education, particularly in their focus on Australian City: A Study of Adolescents in Sydney
interaction (Ballantine and Spade, 2014; Woods, (Connell et al., 1959); and even Bourdieu and
1983). According to Vygotskys sociocultural Passerons Les Hritiers: les tudiants et la culture
approach to cognition, learning is dependent on the (Bourdieu and Passeron, 1964) in France. Similar
interaction between the learner and the social envi- studies can be found in other countries. All of these
ronment, and this includes peers, as well as parents studies are based on standard methods used by soci-
and teachers. From oppositional culture theory, ologists at the time, namely questionnaire surveys,
Demanet and Van Houtte (2011) add to the analysis interviews, sociometric maps and observation as
of interaction by discussing misconduct in schools sources of data.
and the causes of feelings of futility in students in During this period sociologists of education
and out of their school environments. Also con- knew that the study of schools, and the students
tributing to theory at the interaction level, within them, was more complex than the methods
Mickelson discusses gender differences in interaction which were available to study them. Because stu-
in classrooms for boys and girls and how these differ- dents are nested in classrooms, and classrooms in
ences affect their experiences (Mickelson, 2012). schools, and schools within other boundaries, such
Modern and postmodern theories have emerged as school districts or countries, there was recognition
on all continents. In Chinese and especially in of the possibility of what was called contextual
Taiwanese sociology, the hidden curriculum and ide- effects, but there were no efficient methods through
ology are familiar concepts, and scholars have which these effects could be studied.
reviewed almost all relevant theories, including fem- By the end of the 1960s, new statistical tech-
inism, postmodernism, Weberian theories, repro- niques began to be developed which opened up the
duction theories, resistance theories, critical theories, possibility of both investigating the contextual
dramaturgical theories, structural theory, eth- effects of nested data, and also for the simultaneous
nomethodology, and so on (Chang and Renjie, analysis of larger numbers of variables (Blau and
2003). In Latin America, political sociology of edu- Duncan, 1967). The development of multivariate
cation, influenced by the Brazilian Paulo Freire, is causal models by Sewell and his colleagues, which
the major field. Freire (192197) the best known came to be known as the Wisconsin model (Sewell
educator of our time (Gerhardt, 1993: 439) et al., 1969), opened up a new methodological era,
believed education was a political, not a neutral not only in sociology of education, but for sociology
process. He has influenced research and policies in as a whole.
literacy acquisition, education as liberation and The last several decades have seen the expansion
transformative adult education, and educational of statistical techniques, especially driven by the
inequality (see especially Freire, 2008 [1970]). unique demands of the analysis of educational data.
School systems reflect an eclectic mixture of philo- These techniques, such as PLSPath and LISREL
sophical and pedagogical ideas such as pedagogical (both developed in Sweden) and HLM (developed in
positivism, spiritualism, humanism, normalism and the United States), have been described in Saha and
human capital theories, and these also influence the- Keeves (2003) and Keeves and Darmawan (2009).
ory and research (Torres, 2003). The first two techniques made it possible to create
latent variables from measured variables in the same
causal model, thus advancing the use of path models

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such as the Wisconsin model. The latter technique, research projects have an indirect influence on
hierarchical linear modeling (HLM), was a radical national education policies and also because of the
breakthrough in allowing researchers to take into relationship established between international organ-
account the nesting of data to two or three levels. izations and the formulation of these policies. In this
It would be incorrect to assume that all advances sense, the center of educational governance remains
made in research methods have been in the quantita- largely under state control, although it is possible to
tive domain. During this recent period, qualitative identify new forms of reconfiguration. The way reg-
research methods have also evolved in a way that ulation works is now deeply influenced by suprana-
enhanced the validity of the study of educational tional forces, as well as by political-economic forces.
processes. The early processes of observation, partic- On the other hand, Meyer (1997) points out that
ipative observation, and the content study of docu- there is a World-Wide Common Culture that sees
ments have expanded to include both biographical the development of national educational systems as
and narrative methods (Antikainen and Komonen, built on the basis of universal models of education,
2003; LeCompte, 1997). In many ways, these tech- state and nation. This means that institutions of
niques have provided more in-depth and sensitive nation-state and state themselves are shaped by stan-
understandings of how students, teachers and dards, ideologies and universal common values.
administrators attribute meanings and understand- However, Ball (2003) has noted that alignment
ing to the day-to-day life of teaching and learning at among developed nations with economic (and edu-
all levels. cational) policies of the World Trade Organization,
The methods in the sociology of education have the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank
evolved in response to the unique challenges of and the OECD has resulted in pressures on develop-
research on education. Most of these methods, once ing nations to Americanize their economies and to
developed within educational research, have now utilize an American or a First World model in the
become commonly used within the sociology disci- organization of schooling. The sociology of educa-
pline itself, and have made possible equally valuable tion in Central and Southern Africa has addressed
contributions in other fields within sociology. the conflict between the vestiges of colonial
Therefore, it is correct to say that the unique issues approaches to education and those that value the
in educational research, especially from a sociological contributions of local cultures and practices.
perspective, have meant that sociology of education Scholars recognize that in a globalizing world chil-
leads the way in the development of research meth- dren in African schools must be competitive, but also
ods and statistical techniques (Saha and Keeves, must not lose their cultural heritage. Otherwise, they
2003). will likely only value that which originates in the
countries of their former colonizers (Awasom, 2009).
This globalized world culture is seen as being
Selected emerging issues in the provided by science, rationality and the conception
sociology of education of human rights, which are created in and installed
in individuals by formal education. This explanation
Education and globalization sustains the theory about the spread of educational
Globalization has had a profound effect on educa- systems by isomorphism, through processes of cul-
tional systems in developed and developing nations, tural diffusion (Dale and Robertson, 2009).
with many of its consequences being unanticipated.
Contemporary societies are in a period of profound Education and stratification
changes, where the national space-time has been lost, Educational differences and inequality are found in
gradually, since the 1970s. The primacy in relation all societies where competition, markets and the
to the growing importance of spacetime globally family are central institutions. It should be noted
and locally has led to the crisis of national social con- that professional hierarchies and models of social
tracts, which formed the basis of the modern devel- mobility are surprisingly similar in all industrial soci-
opment of central states. eties (Erikson and Goldthorpe, 1992). As education
As Dale (2001) argues, most evident effects of and participation in society expand, the effect of
globalization in educational policies result from the social background weakens slightly (Dronkers,
reorganization of states priorities in becoming more 1993), but this weakening can be different for stu-
competitive, namely so as to attract investments of dents in different fields of study in higher education
transnational corporations to their countries. It is (Ayalon and Yogev, 2005). The persistence of differ-
also argued that transnationalization of education is ences and inequality takes distinct forms, including
a form of low-intensity globalization (Santos, 2001; both the social and economic values of schooling and
Teodoro, 2003), partly because large statistical also the contents and the format of each kind of

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education (Bills, 2004; Shavit and Blossfeld, 1993; ogy of education is thus dedicated to an examination
Shavit and Mller, 1998). of both the barriers and the mechanisms that create
Regardless of globalization, cross-national differ- and perpetuate them (Konstantinovskiy. 2003,
ences are clearly seen in educational inequality. They 2012). In addition to social class, education systems
are linked with more general social differences, so are marked by gender and racial (ethnic) differ-
that in the Nordic countries or more generally in ences. Social class, gender and race as collective
countries with a socialist or social democratic regime identities cannot be reduced into each other, but
the differences are smaller than in countries with they are not separate either: rather, they are intersec-
liberal market economies. Strong factors explaining tional (Crenshaw, 1991; Mirza, 2009; Santos, 2009).
the differences include individualization and the for- As a result, inequalities can be based on multiple
mation of different school tracks in education (Beller grounds, systems of classification may cross each
and Hout, 2006; Marks, 2005). According to other, and identities may be multiple and multiply
Markss (2005: 4945) results, The greater the num- marginalized.
ber of school tracks, the stronger the effects of class
background. Similarly, the greater the difference Education inequalities in developing
between schools in student performance (the intra- countries
class correlation) the stronger the effect of class back- The construct of the nation-state remains critical
ground. Nevertheless, the relationship between and almost indispensable in regulating and influenc-
education and economic relations is less than unity. ing policy (Green, 1997). The nation-state as the
For example, as Marrero (2012) showed, Uruguay maker and the implementer of legislation remains, in
has one of the better Gini indexes (income distribu- the 21st century, the key custodian in the establish-
tion) in Latin America and the most unequal educa- ment of social institutions and the protection of civil
tion system in the continent. Dubet et al. (2010) rights, alongside which is a more assertive and well-
indicate that the societies that give more value to informed civil society. More and more, policy-mak-
diplomas supposedly more open and democratic ers, especially in education, are forced to include the
have very restricted systems of education. discourse of equity and redress. Much of this dis-
The social struggles over education are part of course finds itself embedded in the tension between
institutional characteristics of school systems: the state policy and the vagaries of the free-market.
middle classes, being in a key position, are able to Analyzing education in North America, Apple
influence the development of education in the direc- (2000, 2001) coins the term hegemonic social bloc,
tion of its exclusive aims (Ferreira, 2000; Power et made up of an alliance of neoliberals, neoconserva-
al., 2003). The academic bias can distort the efforts tives, authoritarian populists and the new profession-
and investments on schooling, depreciating technical al middle class. These groups exert their political and
formation and certificates (Barbosa, 2012; Brunello ideological hegemony to serve the interest of the
et al., 2007; Schwartzman, 2011). Social struggles market, meritocracy and technocracy, resulting in
can result in barriers such as the accessibility of edu- different forms of exclusion. The relationship
cation. Social barriers are a combination of factors between the market, civil society and state becomes
preventing someone without some social resources negligible to the extent that state regulation has led
from getting education. Sociocultural barriers repre- to greater forms of exclusion than inclusion.
sent a strong trend between the level of education While developing and under-developed societies
quality and such characteristics as education of par- continue to struggle with inequalities in their educa-
ents, their occupation and work position. Territorial tional systems, a developed country like the USA is
barriers are determined by a variety of factors: type of equally challenged. Teach for America (TFA), a
populated area, distance from residential area to non-profit organization, claims that only about
school, access to transportation, number of schools seven out of 120 Grade 7 learners at a North
within reachable distance and level of urbanization Carolina school knew the name of the president of
in the area. Every one of these factors could be either the USA. Morss (2013) concludes that the USA
an obstacle, or a resource. In analyzing economic spends a great amount on health and education with
barriers it is important to consider not only the open a small return. He links educational outcome to
factors of accessibility such as family income, but income inequality. Ball (2008) claims that despite
also the latent ones such as chargeability of school the flood of government initiatives and policies
services (sometimes as unofficial praxis). introduced over the past 20 years in the UK, the
Institutional barriers are specific. If territorial, socio- education system remains split along class lines.
cultural and economic barriers can be reproduced by Unterhalter (2012) proposes that inequalities in
the educational system, these institutional barriers income are compounded by inequalities in higher
are created by it. Considerable research in the sociol- education, which exist in all countries. National

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disparities reflect global inequalities (UNESCO, opportunities for participation are non-existent
2009). The developmental question is: What makes (Unterhalter, 2012).
educational inequality different among the devel- Some nations have focused on multicultural edu-
oped, developing and under-developed societies? cation to foster the inclusion of under-served groups.
In 2009, the United Nations Education and For example, the government of Indonesia, a nation
Scientific Committee (UNESCO) released a report with more than 300 language and ethnic groups, has
which lays the blame squarely on governments, passed legislation to foster multiculturalism in
political indifference, weak domestic policies and the response to a globalizing world and to mitigate eth-
failure of aid donors to act on their commitments nic conflict (Sunarto et al., 2004). In 2003, it was
(UNESCO, 2009). The report goes on to project mandated that education is to be provided in a dem-
that at least 29 million children will still be out of ocratic and just manner, without discrimination
school in 2015. Currently, children in the lowest with respect to human rights, religious values, cul-
20% in countries such as Ethiopia, Mali and Niger tural values and national diversity (Law No. 20 of
are three times less likely to be in primary school as the National Education System; cited in
children from the wealthiest 20%. In the Pattinararany and Kusumadewi, 2008: 3). However,
Philippines, children in the poorest 20% receive five these authors note that the implementation of mul-
years less education than children in the wealthiest ticulturalism has failed at the classroom level because
families. Many learners leave the schooling system of the lack of knowledge about diverse groups and
without the most basic literacy and numeracy skills. cultures on the part of the teachers, and entrench
In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, 3.8 million teachers resistance by conservative forces.
will have to be recruited by 2015 if universal primary
education is to be achieved. The politics of education in developed
Developing countries are unable to escape from nations: the case of multiculturalism
the overt, covert, intractable and pervasive influence One of the current issues relating to the politics of
of global agencies such as the World Bank, the education is the ways with which state institutions,
International Monetary Fund (IMF) and multina- political ideologies and competing interests, both
tional corporations. For the last two decades, the within and outside the education community, influ-
World Bank has increased its economic and ideolog- ence the content, form and functioning of educa-
ical influence in setting the global agenda of the so- tion. A number of studies focusing on the political
called less developed countries (Xavier, 2002: 1), and aspects of education and educational policy-making
in most cases, in conjunction with these govern- examine how the concept of multiculturalism is dealt
ments. These influences have often had negative with in a globalized world. Below, there are some
effects upon the educational systems in the develop- examples of how a number of western countries try
ing nations, have weakened local cultural knowledge to manage the issue of multiculturalism in their
in communities, and made it increasingly more dif- national systems.
ficult for some countries to educate all children. In Britain education is a field characterized by
Despite strong and progressive policies, as in racial inequalities, given the noticeably poor per-
South Africa, serious issues around the lack of capac- formance of Black and Minority Ethnic children in
ity, poor controls over the system and unaccountable schools. Multiculturalism is overshadowed by
trade union activities contribute to growing inequal- notions pertaining to diversity, citizenship and
ities. The unrelenting quest among both the lower- nation-building. The radicalization of young
class and middle-class parents to secure places in Muslims in Britain, community cohesion and the
good schools for their children, many of which educational policies set by the governments are cen-
require fees, creates the conditions for continued tral, as is the significance of whiteness and the role
exclusion. For all levels of education, the lack of rel- that White and middle-class culture plays in modern
evance of curricula to local developmental needs and Britain.
a dubious understanding of quality and governance In the Netherlands while multiculturalism was
undermine efforts at overcoming inequality. once the main objective regarding the future of the
Naidoo (2010) asserts that for higher education, Dutch society, it is nowadays apparent that assimila-
a market model may not be appropriate for low- tion weighs far more heavily. Policies designed to
income countries at this stage of their development. combat educational disadvantage in the Netherlands
Despite student growth worldwide, it has been the are often dictated by the political ideology of what-
least in low-income countries; for example, the aver- ever political party is in power, with the main differ-
age participation rate in Sub-Saharan Africa is the ences between left-wing and right-wing parties
lowest at 6%, and is even lower for countries with expanding over the field of education.
the poorest level of human development where In Germany government policy and ideology

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helped promote a Europeanized national identity so certain political agendas that do not necessarily coin-
as to promote the needs of a multicultural society. cide, in this case, with the all-pervading notion of
Germany continues to struggle with shifting its edu- multiculturalism. Amidst rapid social changes
cational policies from maintaining a Europeanized brought about by globalization and postmodernity,
identity to a novel dimension of multicultural citi- states and governments try to reaffirm their power to
zenship. Educational policies in Germany and citi- promote policies that reflect the needs and the prior-
zenship education, from the times of the Weimar ities set out by those in power as has always been the
Republic, through Nazism, to the postwar division case since the late 19th century.
of the country, have always been instrumental in
shaping society. Educational assessment and
In the US a key issue dominating education at accountability in global perspective
national level was Civil Rights and the lack of equal- Systems of educational assessment and accountabili-
ity of educational opportunities. The expansion of ty have been in existence for centuries. However, the
Civil Rights, the arrival of new immigrant groups intent of such assessment has changed considerably
and globalization have revamped the US education in the past 30 to 40 years. Early accountability sys-
system to an extent that what was once considered tems held students or applicants for admission
the domain of state and local authorities nowadays accountable for their learning through the use of
includes the federal government. Both schools and graded examinations. In the early years of the 20th
states have resisted federal interference in education- century, the testing of students served another func-
al policies. Increased educational opportunities avail- tion as a diagnostic tool to inform teachers of stu-
able to disadvantaged groups and immigrants alike dent deficiencies that were in need of remediation or
have lessened the career prospects of those pupils enhanced instruction. While these earlier roles for
coming from the native-born middle class. In addi- accountability persist, new purposes emerged during
tion, there are growing fears expressed by the busi- the last few decades of the 20th century; these coin-
ness sector concerning a lack of competitiveness of cide with significant changes in economic and polit-
the American labor force in the midst of the world- ical relations among nations. Testing in its current
wide financial crisis and the overall impact of eco- usage frequently serves as an indicator of the quality
nomic globalization. of the educational system and its professional practi-
In Canada inequalities continue to persist in edu- tioners. Test score outcomes are used to judge
cation despite various educational strategies. The whether to close schools and replace personnel at the
pertinent cultural differences between the First school level, and to judge the adequacy of a national
Nations peoples, the British and French communi- workforce (Dworkin, 2005; Dworkin and Tobe,
ties, as well as the immigrant population are often 2012a; Lee, 2008; Nichols and Berliner, 2007;
reflected in Canadas understanding of multicultural- Pigozzi, 2006; Spring, 2008, 2009; Teodoro, 2007).
ism and education. Interestingly, education in In a globalizing world, markets are no longer
Canada is a provincial matter rather than a federal restricted to regions or even nation-states, and eco-
issue, thus affecting many of the federal govern- nomic factors, be they producers, managers, work-
ments initiatives to defend multiculturalism. ers, or clients and customers, are also not limited.
More than many other western nations, Australia Since producers of goods and services are not
has embraced multiculturalism as a national educa- restricted to local labor markets, they can choose
tional agenda. Thus, considerable research in the among labor markets globally to match their partic-
sociology of education has examined the effect of ular needs. They employ workers with high levels of
this perspective on educational outcomes. Not only academic attainment drawn from high-performing
has there been a growing concern about Aboriginal educational systems to perform valued, technical
education and life chances, but also in the teaching work, and workers from lower-performing educa-
of non-Aboriginal youth about Aboriginal culture. tional systems to perform the more menial work. As
Likewise, the significant increase in European, Asian Pigozzi (2006) observed, governments, business and
and Latin American immigrants to Australia has the public have begun to recognize that differentials
resulted in substantial research on the adaptations of in the academic performance of a nations student
diverse groups to Australian society. For an examina- body have broad ramifications. Countries with well-
tion of multiculturalism in Australia and its explo- educated populations can thrive, while those without
ration in sociology of education, see Saha (2014). such populations stagnate.
Examining the politics of education in other Whether a nation thrives or stagnates is not left
western countries as well reveals the politicized to chance. Privileged nation-states exploit their
nature of education. Such study makes clear that advantage to maintain hegemony over scarce
educational phenomena reflect and inevitably serve resources (Apple, 2003). But the advantages must be

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justified in a rational manner, preferably based upon imposed on European colonies in Africa likewise
objective measures and standards. This is the logic diminished the cultural heritages of peoples, stifled
of neoliberalism, with its focus on the marketization their social development and fostered dependency.
of social life and social institutions (Ball, 2003). The Awasom argues that the First World continues to
objective standards should be readily understood and dictate educational policies in Africa that at the min-
accepted, and if privileged groups or privileged soci- imum maintain dependency and stifle progress for
eties perform best on these objective measures and the African working classes.
standards, so much the better. Standardized achieve- Finally, it cannot be assumed that all educational
ment tests meet the requirements of apparent objec- accountability is dysfunctional for students, teachers,
tivity and rationality, and also tend to portray those schools, or developing nations. Those systems of
with economic and political advantages as the most accountability that seek to expand educational
competent. Conveniently, the schools that suffer the opportunities are notable exceptions, including the
most draconian sanctions, including school closings, United Nations Millennium Development Goals to
tend to serve minorities and the poor, while many of end extreme poverty by 2015 through the promo-
those that serve the middle class are not negatively tion of universal primary education and gender
sanctioned and may even be given financial rewards equality and empowerment of women (UNDESA,
for high achievement. 2008). Further, UNESCOs International Institute
International tests such as PISA (Program for for Educational Planning (IIEP) has fostered the goal
International Student Assessment), TIMSS (Trends of Education for All (see Draxler, 2008) and oper-
in International Mathematics and Science Study) ates the annual IIEP Policy Forums, which have
and PIRLS (Progress in International Reading addressed issues of anticorruption practices in
Literacy Study) provide, on first inspection, the nec- schools and in government ministries (Hallak and
essary data for international economic decision-mak- Poisson, 2002).
ers to gauge which countries have a competent youth
population and future labor force and which do not. The effects of peer groups on schooling
In turn, decisions about the placement of industry Since Colemans early study Adolescent Society
and the selection of different kinds of labor markets (1961), the research literature on the importance of
to be employed can be determined by the results of a peer groups and friends as factors in educational
single, standardized test. A nations motivation to do achievement and attainment has been extensive. The
well on such tests is in part one of national pride, but isolated adolescent is a rarity, and recent literature
it also exerts pressure on states to raise achievement. supports the notion that an understanding of the
When Finland scored above other nations on PISA interpersonal relationships of young people is a key
2000, 2003, 2006, 2009 and 2012 there were to understanding learning both in and out of the
demands by government leaders in other nations to classroom (Burross, 2008).
copy the Finnish educational system. While Finland Peer groups and friends provide the context with-
was among the top scoring nations on PISA 2009 in which social learning takes place. During early
and 2012, Shanghai, China outscored all test-taking adolescence peer groups become especially strong,
nations with lower-scoring countries asking how can presenting challenges to parents and teachers. Not
we now be like Shanghai? only does this pressure affect social development,
Nevertheless, criticism of PISA, TIMSS, PIRLS such as the formation of self-identity and self-
and similar international tests has focused on test esteem, but also attitudes and motivation towards
validity and reliability when applied across cultures academic learning. Peer subcultures vary consider-
(Hambleton, 2002: 58). There is yet another con- ably and include not only academic learning, but a
cern. Ball (2003: 31) has noted that alignment wide range of other behaviors relating to dress,
among developed nations with the economic (and music, drugs and alcohol, sex and leisure activities.
educational) policies of the World Trade In many ways, the peer group serves as a mirror
Organization, the IMF, the World Bank and the from which the individual young person finds out
OECD has resulted in pressure on developing what kind of person he or she is (Packard and
nations to Americanize their economies. Imposing Babineau, 2008). But more importantly, the peer
an American or First World model on developing groups, and the friendships which may or may not
nations that seek aid to build capacity often results in be a part of the group, provide a gradual continuum
the deterioration of cultural patterns that are central between dependence on the family and the inde-
to the populace and are part of a national heritage. pendence of adulthood (Coleman and Hendry,
Educational reform often accompanies these trans- 1999).
formations. However, as Awasom (2009) observed, There have been some recent shifts in the
the past colonial education models that were direction and emphasis of peer group research. For

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example, Caselman and Self (2007) found that the Adult education and lifelong learning
extent to which the adolescent regards him- or her- Adult education has a long history related to civil
self as a close friend (and therefore has a positive society and social movements in particular. Since the
self-image) depends partly on the support of the peer 20th century, adult education has also become a
group; this clearly has implications for academic per- matter of state policy (Torres, 2006). Esping-
formance. Boehnke (2008) not only demonstrated Andersen (1990) has proposed a well-known classifi-
that peer pressure can cause under-achievement, cation of ideal types of welfare states. His point of
especially for girls, but that this varies across cultures. departure is the concept of decommodification, i.e.
In countries where achievement is highly valued, the degree to which welfare states permit people to
peer pressure has less effect. What is perhaps more make their living standards independent of pure
relevant, from an educational perspective, is that market forces (Esping-Andersen, 1990: 3). In both
teachers cannot always determine who belongs to liberal welfare capitalism and in the conservative or
which peer group, although the ability to determine corporative model, social rights are restricted and the
peer membership improves with the length of time rate of decommodification is low. The third regime
the teacher knows the student (Pittinsky and cluster, the Nordic model, includes those countries
Carolan, 2008). in which the principles of universalism and decom-
modification of social rights were extended also to
The school-to-work transition the new middle classes. The Nordic model of adult
Of concern to many countries is the preparation of education includes a high participation rate, a high
young people for productive roles in society. share of public funding and public suppliers, and a
Sociologists of education are interested in these pat- high share of personal interest in adult education
terns of entry into the workforce and their effective- (Antikainen, 2010; Rubenson and Desjardins, 2009;
ness. A number of countries provide stepping stones Tuijnman and Hellstrm, 2001).
into jobs from high school or vocational school to For decades, participation in adult education has
college or trade school to apprenticeships to jobs. been studied by conducting rather uniform national
Planned economies determine their worker needs in level surveys (Desjardins et al., 2006). Differences in
advance and train for available jobs. Other nations participation are related to socioeconomic status, ini-
plan transitions through various steps in the educa- tial level of education, age, gender, urbanrural set-
tional process (Buehler and Konietzka, 2010; Van ting and ethnic (minority) group; these are called
Houtte and Van Maele, 2012). In many systems, lit- determinants of participation and their combina-
tle guidance is provided to high school students who tions, patterns of participation. At present, the life
must adjust to the demands of the job market. course perspective and life history methods are also
Ballantine and Hammack (2012) have noted the frequently applied (Antikainen and Komonen,
growth of the credential crisis, in which college 2003; Crossan et al., 2003).
graduates can no longer count on their degrees lead- The breakthrough of lifelong learning as the
ing to access to high-status jobs. principal concept for education policies occurred in
While the problem is significant in the West, the context of accelerating globalization (Teodoro,
there is considerable evidence of the under-employ- 2003). Jarvis (2008) suggests that current lifelong
ment of well-educated individuals elsewhere. For learning is like two sides of the same coin: We both
example, a growing problem in China is the presence learn in order to be workers so that we can produce
of what has been called ant tribes (Lian, 2009), or and then we learn that we have needs to consume so
college-educated individuals who are forced to share that we devour the commodities that we have pro-
housing and meager incomes because they cannot duced, whilst others take the profits.
obtain work that uses their educational skills. Chinas
economy currently cannot absorb the burgeoning Teacher supply and demands, status and
pool of college graduates, despite public and central morale
government demands that more Chinese youth seek There is a substantial body of research in sociology of
college degrees. Growing industrialization and the education dedicated to such topics as the demand
extent of outsourcing to China by foreign corpora- and supply of qualified teachers, the role of teachers
tions have resulted in more need for assembly line in determining student learning outcomes, and the
workers with junior middle school credentials than effects of the growing neoliberal pressure for school
workers with college degrees (Choi and Greenaway, accountability on teacher morale and turnover. The
2001; Ren, 2011). role of such performance-based assessments on
teacher performance, as measured by student
achievement results, is an additional research topic
receiving considerable attention. Other work has

8
Dworkin et al. Sociology of education

focused on teacher demography and factors that Africa, teachers salaries have failed to keep pace with
attract individuals into teaching or repel them from other professions requiring comparable levels of
considering a teaching career, while still others have training (Moon, 2007). By contrast, teachers in
explored the relationship between student disrup- Taiwan and China are held in high status and
tions, classroom bullying and student delinquency rewarded because traditional Chinese culture places
on teacher effectiveness or teacher burnout (Bru, them high in the realm of heaven (Fwu and Wang,
2009; Cassidy, 2009; Friedman, 1991, 1995; Gavish 2002; Hargreaves, 2009).
and Friedman, 2010). Selected for this article are
three issues that focus on the inter-mix among the Teacher supply and demand: The issue of the
varied research issues associated with teachers. The availability of teachers around the world has two
three presented are the status of teachers within their foci: the absolute supply of teachers relative to
societies, which affects the capacity of schools to demand, and the supply of competently trained
attract quality teaching staffs; the resultant issues of teachers relative to demand. Mulvaney (2006) noted
teacher supply and demand; and finally, the stressors that in 2004 South Africa lost 4000 teachers to
associated with teaching, intertwined with status, HIV/AIDS. Further, past discrimination in access to
that affect teacher morale and burnout. schooling and low levels of adult literacy have meant
that the potential pool of people to be trained as
Teacher status: One measure of teacher status is teachers is attenuated. Ironically, attempts to realize
relative salaries based on a percentage of a nations Education for All, which is central to UNESCO
GDP. The OECD reports that the highest salaries for and the IIEPs global goals, may contribute to
teachers with 10 years experience (expressed in US increases in the demand for teachers that can out-
dollars) are found in Luxembourg and Switzerland, strip the supply. Miller et al. (2008) reported that the
while the lowest are found in Indonesia and a few problem of teacher supply is further exacerbated by
former Eastern bloc nations (OECD, 2011: migration out of developing nations to the First
40612). Using the proportion of GDP measure for World (the so-called SouthNorth migration). There
28 developed nations, the OECD reported that dur- is also some small amount of SouthSouth migra-
ing the year 2009 experienced teachers (15 years of tion. Mulvaney (2006) reported that in 2004 South
service) had a mean salary that was as low as less than Africa lost 21,000 teachers to out-migration.
one-half of the per capita GDP for 25- to 64-year- Teacher supply issues are nuanced by concerns
olds with a tertiary education and no higher than about teacher qualifications. This is further delineat-
1.25 times the per capita GDP for the same popula- ed by whether the teachers are qualified to teach in
tion. Of course, teachers salaries are generally based the specific subject field they are assigned to cover.
on a school year, which is often nine or ten months Citing a UNESCO study, Moon (2007) indicates
in developed nations, while the GDP comparison is that in Sub-Saharan Africa about one-third of pri-
based on a full-years employment. Thus, the gap mary school teachers were untrained. He reports that
between average GDP for tertiary-educated workers in South and West Asia the percentages of untrained
and teachers might be somewhat narrower (perhaps teachers are similar to those found in Southern and
by a quarter, or three months), but would still reflect Eastern Africa. In the developed world concerns
a relative disadvantage for teachers. The OECD about teacher quality are no less salient. For example,
reported that elementary teachers earned 77% of the Marrett (1990), Ingersoll (2001, 2005) and the US
salary of the comparison population, while lower- Department of Education, National Center for
secondary teachers earned 81% and upper-secondary Education Statistics (2004) report that in high-
teachers earned 85%, respectively (OECD, 2011: poverty and minority schools in the US, the likeli-
408). When data are examined for developing hood of teachers being certified in their teaching
nations and literacy rates are controlled in the analy- area, especially in science and mathematics, was sig-
sis, the results remain depressing for teachers. nificantly less than in middle-class and majority
Mehrotra and Buckland (2001) adjusted the data for schools. Furthermore, 35% of US teachers in private
literacy rates among the populations in order to schools have no certification at all, compared with
compare teachers with comparably educated groups, slightly over 1% of public school teachers (Aud et al.,
the results changed. The residual between the expect- 2011). Kane et al. (2008) has warned that merely
ed ratio of teachers salaries to GDP per capita and because a teacher is certified or has an academic
the observed values for the nations in the OECD degree in her or his subject matter does not guaran-
study resulted in an actual advantage among teachers tee that the teacher is effective in raising student
in the Third World compared with their First World achievement.
counterparts. UNESCOs Section for Teacher
Education noted that, particularly in Sub-Saharan

9
Dworkin et al. Sociology of education

Teacher morale and teacher bur nout: edge economy, market economy, identity politics,
Drawing on the Teaching and Learning digital society, individualization, privatization and so
International Survey (TALIS) of 70,000 teachers, the on, it highlights the restructuring of the world eco-
OECD (2009) noted that teachers contend that nomic system and the intensification of internation-
their effectiveness is sabotaged by unruly and disrup- al competition. To confront these global trends, the
tive students and a lack of support by parents and New Right ideology has dominated educational
administrators, which leads to heightened teacher reforms all over the world. Its cult of efficiency and
burnout rates (Dworkin, 1987, 2009; Dworkin and accountability worried sociologists and educators so
Tobe, 2012b). The data demonstrated that (1) in much that they devoted their efforts to issues con-
excess of 90% of teachers in Australia, Belgium, cerning the compromised social justice. The conse-
Denmark, Ireland and Norway felt that good teach- quence was that other issues raised by globalization
ing was not rewarded; (2) over 70% of the teachers were relatively neglected. The social control issue is
in the lower-secondary schools in Mexico, Italy, the one of them.
Slovak Republic, Estonia and Spain said that their Social control, be it visible or invisible, explicit or
teaching was hampered by disruptive students; and implicit, exerted through such social institutions as
(3) teachers in Brazil and Malaysia report that religion, law, medicine and education, maintains
between 13 and 17% of the school day is spent social order to the extent that it provides a solid basis
maintaining discipline. for social development and progress. For an educa-
In nearly all of the countries in the OECD study, tion system to fulfill the social control function via
the teachers hold relatively stable employment with its socialization-selection task at a time of unprece-
full-time appointments. In fact, historically there has dented social change, school curricula, instruction
been a social contract between teachers and societies and assessment need to change accordingly. Given
that offers teachers job security in exchange for these, relations between education and social control
salaries that are less than competitive with those require renewed discussions. Consistent with the
offered to comparably trained individuals by the issue of social control is the need to reconfigure con-
world of business. However, under the aegis of cepts such as citizenship and social solidarity in light
accountability, performance-based assessments of of globalization and trans-state residency. Such
teachers, linked with threats of school closures and issues have been addressed in work by Green et al.
staff terminations, are occurring. Increasingly in the (2006), Kivisto and Faist (2007), Faist and Kivisto
most developed nations, teachers (and their schools) (2008), Bloemraad et al. (2008), Mugge (2012) and
can face employment instability when student stan- most recently by Saha (2013). Saha has argued that
dardized test scores are low. Teachers then face both citizenship education does not seek to produce
less competitive salaries and job instability. The con- mindless conformity to the social, political and civic
sequence of this change in the social contract has norms of society, but rather the ability of citizens to
been a shift from what Bryk and Schneider (2002) engage in an open and informed debate about rele-
term organic trust to contractual trust. The former vant national and global issues. Ever since World
is based on the type of interpersonal trust character- War II, with the emergence of many new nation-
istic of a Gemeinschaft, while the latter is both formal states, and also following the breakup of the Soviet
and bureaucratic, as in a Gesselschaft. Effective school Union in 1991, there has emerged a growing world-
reform often depends upon interpersonal coopera- wide trend to include more social and citizenship
tion among teachers and school administrators that studies into school curricula as a form of nation-
involves a willingness to believe that the other shares building and national integration (Saha, 2013: 8).
personal values in common and they can trust one Seen in this way, social control as a sociological con-
another. The shift in trust caused by school account- cept is not a domineering and limiting force on
ability systems violates and transforms the nature of human behavior, but an open and dynamic process
trust and makes more problematic the willingness of whereby change takes place in an ordered and social-
teachers to take chances with new practices. The vio- ly integrated manner.
lation of such trust has been found to be associated In response to concerns about the relationship
with rising levels of teacher burnout (Dworkin and among education, globalization, accountability citi-
Tobe, 2014). zenship and social control, the Sociology of
Education Research Committee (RC04) of the
Social control: an understudied issue in International Sociological Association has dedicated
the sociology of education a series of conferences to the inter-link among social
Since the 1970s, globalization has swept through control, education, globalization and accountability.
human societies. Although the term globalization The most recent such conference was the 19th
involves diverse arrays of concepts, including knowl- Taiwan Forum on Sociology of Education held in

10
Dworkin et al. Sociology of education

Taipei, Taiwan in June 2013. These themes will also of Education. London: Routledge.
A re-evaluation of the new sociology of education
play a significant role in RC04s contributions to the and an introduction to knowledge in education.
2014 World Congress of Sociology in Yokohama,
Japan.
References
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The Research Committee 04 was founded in 1971. Counted among the founders of the
research committee were the late scholars Pierre Bourdieu of France and Basil Bernstein of the
UK.
The authors of this article are Professor A Gary Dworkin, The University of Houston, USA
[email: gdworkin@central.uh.edu]; Professor Jeanne H Ballantine, Wright State University,
USA; Professor Ari Antikainen, University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu Campus, Finland;
Professor Maria-Ligia Barbosa, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Professor David
Konstantinovskiy, Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia; Professor
Lawrence J Saha, Australian National University, Australia; Dr Shaheeda Essack, Department
of Higher Education and Training, Republic of South Africa; Professor Jason Chang, Chinese
Culture University, Taiwan (ROC); Professor Marios Vryonides, European University of
Cyprus, Cyprus; and Professor Antnio Teodoro, Lusophone University of Humanities and
Technologies, Lisbon, Portugal.

rsum Comme lducation est une institution primordiale dans la socit, la sociologie de lducation
doit mettre laccent sur une panoplie de questions sociales donc une partie a des consquences
fondamentales directes sur la politique sociale. Se basant sur les arguments des diffrentes tendances
thoriques en sociologie de lducation cette communication, qui a t crite par les membres du conseil
du Comit de Recherche (RC04), comprend une slection de ces questions qui revtent une grande
importance
mots-cls lducation les enseignants la formation continue les groupes de pairs la
mondialisation la responsabilit ducative

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Dworkin et al. Sociology of education

resumen Dado que la educacin es una institucin esencial para la sociedad, la sociologa de la
educacin debe centrarse en un conjunto de importantes temas sociales, muchos con implicaciones
polticas vitales. Siguiendo la discusin sobre las diferentes orientaciones tericas de la sociologa de la
educacin, este texto por miembros del Consejo del Comit de Investigacin de Sociologa de Sociologa
de la Educacin (RC04), aborda una seleccin de estos temas significativos.
palabras clave el aprendizaje permanente la educacin la globalizacin los grupos de pares
los profesores la responsabilidad educativa

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