Markets, Schools and the Convertibility of Economic Capital: The Complex Dynamics of Class Choice Author(s): Kathleen Lynch
and Marie Moran Source: British Journal of Sociology of Education, Vol. 27, No. 2 (Apr., 2006), pp. 221-235 Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30036131 Accessed: 16/10/2010 19:18
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School of Social Justice. April 2006. pp. it nevertheless remains the more flexible and convertible form of capital. Lubienski. Using data from recent studies of second-level education in Ireland. 2003. 221-235
Routledge & Taylor Francis
Markets. 2003). There is an extensive literature deconstructing the ideology of 'choice' within an educational context. UCD Equality Studies Centre. 2003). we outline how the availability of economic capital allows middle-class parents to choose fee-paying schooling or to opt out of the formal school sector entirely to employ market solutions to their class ambitions. Email: Kathleen.. 2001. ideologically and often structurally by the thematics of choice. schools and the convertibility of economic capital: the complex dynamics of class choice
Kathleen Lynch* and Marie Moran
University College Dublin. Ireland. where a distinctive neo-liberal interpretation of fairness and efficiency based on the moral might and supremacy of the market has taken root (Apple. The literature demonstrates how few
* Corresponding author. The convertibility of economic capital has particular resonance within 'Celtic Tiger' Ireland.Lynch@ucd.British Journal of Sociology of Education Vol. Belfield. Dublin 4. UCD.
Since the 1980s. Ireland
While economic capital is not synonymous with cultural. No. Bonal.1080/01425690600556362
. 2. Reay & Lucey. especially in the United Kingdom (Whitty et al. The data also show that schools actively collude in the class project to their own survival advantage. The interrelated drive to increase choice. raise standards and shift control from the bureaucratic school to the sovereign consumer may be regarded as representative of a broader political shift towards the right. Ball. 27. and data compiled on the newly emerging 'grind' schools (private tuition centres).ie ISSN 0142-5692 (print)/ISSN 1465-3346 (online)/06/020221-15 C 2006 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10. social or symbolic capital in either its constitutional or organizational form. 1998. the international educational landscape has been characterized politically. The state's reluctance to fully endorse an internal market between schools has resulted in middle-class parents using their private wealth to create an educational market in the private sector to help secure the class futures of their children. 2003.
be meritorious (Young. Ireland does not have a market-driven. 2002. most notably in the United Kingdom and Australia. Taylor & Woollard. choicebased education system. Both choice and meritocratic ideologies blind us to the fact that there needs to be equality of condition to promote substantive as opposed to formal equality of opportunity (Tawney. or to live in neighbourhoods that would place them in the catchment area for such institutions. Baker et al. and that class inequality may exist where choice does not operate at an officially sanctioned/
policy level as a market-led educational strategy. psychologically and financially (Lucey & Reay. been made within an international educational context where choice has been established as a centrally defining logic.. Thus choice functions not only mechanistically at the level of practice to exclude those who do not possess sufficient economic. 2003. Analyses that situate choice solely at the level of parental decisionmaking in the school system are problematic because they fail to situate choice synchronically. What choices exist are generally between equally limiting class options. 1964. is to disregard the fact that Ireland's educational decisions have. while Australia has implemented state subsidization for schools outside the state system. arising from the constitutional provisions protecting both parental rights over the education of their children and denominational interests in education. but also ideologically. Within the United Kingdom the government has introduced a competitive internal market within the state system. as much as those of other more obviously 'pro-choice' countries. as a part of a global market-oriented discourse of neo-liberalism.222
K. Lynch. having outlawed league tables. a logical extension of meritocratic individualism that underpinned the liberal equal opportunities projects of an earlierera. Most of the literature critiquing the choice agenda has emerged from countries where education is clearly defined as a market commodity at an official policy level. It is. Lynch and IM. Archer & Yamashita. In comparison with these. social or cultural capital to avail of and benefit from the array of choices. school choice has existed in Irish education since the foundation of the State. as a strategy in what is a well-established pattern of maximization and
. Yet to posit that the mechanics of choice do not operate in Ireland. 1958). It is clear from the literaturealso that choice ideology legitimates class reproduction and silences class dissent by fostering illusions of opportunity. Moreover. assuming that those who have the 'talent' and who 'choose to make the effort' should. in many respects. risky and potentially costly socially. Recognizing that school choice is but one engine of class reproduction. 2003). involves breaking down the concept of choice to reveal its location within a broader matrix of historical. Options promising significant class mobility are alien. Moran
choices exist for low-income households. or diachronically. 1987. as it hides the disjuncture between the will and the means to choose behind a fagade of equal opportunities rhetoric. and would. political and material forces. or indeed to suggest that the narrative of choice is not therefore a constitutive feature of Irish public discourse. eschewed the possibility of a voucher-based system and discouraged competition between schools by prohibiting selection of students on the basis of academic attainment. Low-income families cannot afford to prepare their children for the types of examinations that will enable them to enter the more selective school or universities. 2004).
a globalized market ideology exists that informs individual decisions and enables alternatives to schooling to develop outside of the state-regulated education system. which. Hong Kong. 2002. Well-organized union resistance
.Markets. 'schools' run as businesses) and findings from a major study of second-level schools undertaken by one of the authors in the late 1990s (Lynch & Lodge. as is the case in Ireland. 2005)-is growing proof of how economically generated inequalities outside of education systematically undermine equality of access.
However. Baker et al. Pockets of resistance exist in the Church bodies. not all educational stakeholders have endorsed the market logic.1 Making markets within the school system
From the late 1990s. Japan. and to examine at its operation at policy level. participation and outcome within. some have actively resisted it. 2003).. schools and the convertibility of economic capital
maintenance of middle-class privilege in and through the education system. 2002. which takes into account classdifferentiated outcomes in education prior to the choice era. the synchronic contextualization of choice within a broader discourse of individual and market 'freedoms' allows us to recognize that choice may simply be one of many strategies or discourses derived from and fed by the larger global neo-liberal narrative. Bray & Kwok. Aurini. including previously unpublished data on what are known as 'grind schools' (i. 2002). Psacharopoulos & Papakonstantinou. 1992. and. Meanwhile. For this reason it may be helpful to disaggregate the concept of choice into its constituent elements and phases. If the ultimate objective of our analytical concern is to eliminate class inequalities in education. albeit powerful. while endorsing the need for parental choice. 2004. Irish public policy-making has been driven by neo-liberal assumptions regarding the supremacy of the market as the primary producer of cultural logic and cultural value (Kirby. 2004).e. Mischo & Haag. allows for the recognition of choice as a recent. Allen. Educationalists operate in a global and national frameworkwhere the market reigns supreme (Sugrue. Locating the literature on choice within a diachronic review. Thus even where market-driven choice has not been instituted as the modus operandiof a given education system. In this paper we draw on a number of different sources to substantiate our claims. expression of a historically manifest pattern of class reproduction (Gamoran. at school level and at individual level. 2001). This enables us to differentiate between the different ideological endorsements of the rhetoric of choice and the myriad ways in which the dynamic of choice may be played out across the educational and political landscape. Education Commission Vision Statement). CORI. and Luxembourg to name but a few (Stevenson & Baker. Greece. focusing so much attention on 'school choice' as a key dynamic of class reproduction redirects our attention too far away from the binding power of economic capital in producing classed outcomes. in fact. for example. 2001. The global rise of private tutoring or 'shadow education' across a diverse range of educational systems-in Canada. have also repeatedly challenged the 'materialism' implicit in giving primacy to the market in society (see. 2003.
also have fears of a 'payment by results' system. although calling for greater accountability for teachers. there is a great deal of flexibility in the system. 1996). Lynch and M. 3% of schools that are free
. The second-level feepaying sector is strongly Dublin-based (62% are in the Dublin area) and small: only 8% of all second-level schools are fee-paying. Thus it is inappropriateto neatly categorize the Irish education system as either 'privatized'. 2000). One-half of all second-level students do not attend their nearest school. Parent organizations. most importantly. the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) and the Union of Students in Ireland. in addition. the Teachers Union of Ireland. parental rights (Articles 42 and 44).where this refers to the introduction of market mechanisms into a state run system (Whitty & Power. or as 'marketized'. While options are limited by school transport arrangements. Professional and Technical Union education branch. where it arises. While it is useful to understand the Irish education system as partially choice driven. Choice was officially implemented on denominational grounds. are state funded for the greater part of their current costs. Parents are defined as the 'primary and natural educators' of the child under the Irish Constitution (Article 42) and are free to send their children to any school they wish. In particular. and.224
K. with the exception of 1% of completely private primary
schools. One of the most significant characteristicsof the Irish education system as it stands today is that all schools. Certain capital costs are also state funded. 1993). Perhaps one of the reasons why the ideology of market choice in particular has limited resonance with education stakeholders is because choice already exists but within a more morally plausible discourse of religious and parental freedom. Ireland's choice-based system has devolved from a colonial past riven with religious tensions and. 2002). Industrial.. personal resources. the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland. has a very different profile to other marketized or partially marketized school systems (Drudy & Lynch. where this refers to the movement of former state-run institutions into the private sphere. the Catholic Schools Parents Association (2002) have consistently opposed the privatization of second level education. it is necessary also to bear in mind the formative historical (and decidedly non-commercial) factors in this development. those who are most mobile are middle-class students (Hannan et al. as a broad alliance between the Services. The trajectory of the Irish experience seems to run in the opposite direction to that assumed usual by the current theorists of school choice-the Irish experience is of a denominationally privatized system that has gradually come to be subsidized by the state. local regulations regarding school 'catchment' areas and. the Irish education system produces classed outcomes as much as education systems with more obviously commercial intent (Whelan & Layte. and constitutionally protected on the grounds of natural law. as such. Moran
found clearest expression in the recent formation of the Education is Not For Sale coalition. although capital investment is heavily weighted towards the non-fee sector. While the origins of 'choice' lay in religious difference and not in the pursuit of greater efficiency or adherence to market ideology per se. especially given the widely cited adverse effects of such a system in the late nineteenth century. for teacher salaries. specifically.
Roman Catholic schools are also working to a class agenda. 1983. they generally do not need to recruit fee-paying students from other religions to survive as educational entities. they are simultaneously operating to help maintain class advantage. and indeed by the steady decline in boarding schools. However. especially in the Roman Catholic sector. most parents are therefore constrained in their choices by the geography of schools. State subsidization of the fee-paying secondary schools is regularly challenged as being unjust and creating unfair class advantage.4% defining themselves as Roman Catholic (Central Statistics Office. research by Woulfe (2002) suggests that many of the students who attend are not Protestant but are admitted on other grounds. It is typically rationalized. they actively determine the parameters of choice. They operate many discrete selection and organizational mechanisms that are governed by the politics of survival in what are often
. the proportion of pupils attending fee-paying schools has grown considerably: in Dublin 32% of all students attend a private second-level school. with 88.4 While there is no doubt that one of the reasons such schools take students from other religions. In total. schools and the convertibility of economic capital
to day students have boarders2 (Department of Education and Science [DES]. While the special 'block grant' given to Protestant schools (most of which are fee-paying) supports the constitutional right of parents to have their children educated in denominationally appropriate schools (Glendenning. however. 2004).3 In a study of 13 schools in selected middle-class areas in the south of Dublin city. The role of the school While 'choice' research has almost always adverted to the over-riding impact of the structural conditions of capitalism in framing the choice issues. which by definition must include the ability to pay the tuition or boarding fees. Yet schools themselves are active collaborators in the class game: they actively interpret and redefine the rules of the game as it is played out on their own stage. Given the size and spread of the Catholic population. Woulfe (2002) found that the majority of students attending Protestant secondary fee-paying schools were not members of either the Anglican Church (Church of Ireland) or the other three main Protestant churches. Schools are not passive recipients of parents' class choices. on the grounds that it protects religious minorities.Markets. 2003). 1999). compared with 24% of students 20 years ago (DES. particularly Anglican. Outside Dublin. With the exception of Dublin.7% of the population nationally. almost 40% of the 58 schools that charge fees are run by religious minorities. Of these. sociological attention has been unevenly centred on the demand rather than the supply side of the choice equation. however. the majority of counties have only one feethese tend to be either schools for minority religions or single-sex paying school-and Roman Catholic schools. although Protestants comprise only 3. is to sustain adequate school numbers. including Catholics. 21 schools are run by the Church of Ireland and other Protestant denominations. Protestant or other religious groups that do not have such schools in their own neighbourhoods. 2003). Clearly the fee-paying.
schools are generally managed and controlled by middle-class and upper-middle-class people (trustees. only those parents with sufficient economic. Schools respond to threats of middle-class withdrawal by providing advanced tracks. 2002). Among the factors that facilitated this unofficial dynamic of class exclusion to operate effectively were school traditions. 2002). Through a series of strategies. 1997). What was very evident from the EPS study is that schools do not need to have a selective entrance test to be effectively socially selective. while the focus on choice is vital for challenging the false premises and promises of market-driven ideology. etc. As bodies representing the classed interests of a particular locale. the governance of schools is determined by legislation that gives the school owners. The power that schools exercise over parents is evident from the way that certain charter schools require parents of prospective students to make substantial monetary and time commitments to the school as a condition of enrolment (Whitty & Power. while working-class parents and students are more likely to be perceived as a liability or risk to the status of the school (Reay & Ball. In Ireland. and often to a very receptive public.
. and as a result of historical factors beyond their immediate control. professionals from local authorities. Schools are autonomous entities interested in their own survival. Lynch and M. trustees and teacher representatives an over-riding influence over schools (Education Act. In a wider ideological environment where knowledgeable middle-class parents are schooled in what approaches a rights-based discourse of choice.226
K. The EPS study clearly demonstrated that it is only those schools with a historical and current intake of middle-class students that have sufficient symbolic and economic capital to market themselves as exclusive. Although all the schools were open to applicants from different social classes within their catchment area. McGrath & Kuriloff. and on the structural and local class conditions within which schools operate. The findings of the Equality and Power in Schools (EPS) study (Lynch & Lodge. Moran
very competitive local contexts (Woods & Levacic. 1999). cultural.). extracurricular activities. Moreover. Professional parents are welcomed as active consumers. 2000). social and emotional capital have the knowledge. Thus. Working-class parents in particular are very isolated (Hanafin & Lynch. voluntary contributions (indirect fees) and uniforms. thereby actively protecting the school's future (Kariya & Rosenbaum. While parents are represented. 1993). schools place themselves and are in turn placed in a hierarchy of class-bound desirability. 2002) demonstrates that the issue and problematics of choice are not confined to the system or policy level. 1999. teachers. Drudy & Lynch. confidence. schools can introduce the mechanics of choice on a subtle and unofficial level. 1998). time and resources to select the exclusive schools.
Moreover. they produce and construct themselves so as to exclude or include on the basis of class. to whom the survival of the school has been entrusted. 1990. for example. they exercise only limited control (Lynch. boards of governors. in practice some schools had means at their disposal to discourage applicants from social class groups that they did not wish to serve. it needs to be complemented by a more substantive focus on the class operations of schools organizationally and educationally.
profiled themselves in a way that encouraged these students to apply. but were now in the free scheme. most schools also fund some of their current expenses (outside of salaries) from 'voluntary contributions' requested from parents. all of which typically involved various supplementary costs. while comparable boys' schools used images of rugby matches in particular-all characteristically middle-class activities. 2002. the social class history of the school is part of its current public persona. pp. Light & Kirk. schools that once charged fees. status distinctions exist between religious orders.
. on average. schools and the convertibility of economic capital
Schools have identifiable inherited. On the other hand. The way in which funding procedures reinforce social class-based 'choices' is also significant. still attracted large cohorts of middle-class students. 1987. The amount that parents are asked to pay on the voluntary scheme varies greatly with the social-class composition of the school intake. Schools that wanted to attract middle-class students. including expensive travel arrangements. arising from their original mission to educate different classes of society.Markets. In the case of religious-run schools. In the EPS study. While fee-paying schools that 'converted' to the free scheme had to be proactive in maintaining their middle class profile. the extracurricular activities that were promoted systematically signalled the social class. Although all Irish schools are state funded. These identities are transposed on to the schools under their current management. Schools that have traditionally served lower income groups find it very hard to change that identity. as technical/ vocational schools that had become academically successful community colleges or schools still failed to attract large cohorts of middle-class students. 202). 46-48. classed identities. they had a 'tradition' advantage over schools without a middle-class history (Lynch & Lodge. Sport also plays a particularly important role in projecting the class identity of the school to the wider community (Hargreaves. This was evident in the EPS study. in terms of major capital and
current costs (teacher salaries). The promotional materials of the higher status schools also emphasized their achievements in different international competitions and informed parents of exclusive foreign tours and activities organized annually for the students. Schools under Anglican or Protestant management generally have high prestige because of their traditional association with the Anglo-Irish ascendancy and their concentration in the fee-paying sector. even when their social-class profile and their rates of academic achievement change. gender and racial identity of the school. although not necessarily fee-paying. Within the Roman Catholic sector. the social class profile of the religious order/ group that owns and manages the school is also part of its classed identity. and openly admitted that the 'brand name' of particular religious order was a valuable promotional tool for some schools. School principals and senior managers in the EPS study were aware of the classed identities of the religious orders that owned their schools. 2000). The Labour Party estimated in 2004 120 per child for second-level students and 70 for a child that it was. The higher status girls' schools displayed images of uniformed white girls playing classical music or hockey in their prospectuses. While some of these identities do change over time. knowing they would identify with the sporting or cultural ethos portrayed.
In the EPS study. there is a moral expectation to pay it. they tend to function in a more invidious manner as markers of distinction between schools. subsection 3). Lynch and M. Often one school's uniform was almost indistinguishable from another. and in the number of part-time or support staff employed (Lynch.228
K. fully in a position to 'choose' a school with a voluntary contribution for their child. As can be seen in Figure 1. strongly suggesting that the voluntary contribution is not always seen as optional. Despite the constitutionally enshrined 'right' of parents to send their children to their school of preference (Article 42. It certainly operates as a psychological barrier to opting into certain schools. Thus although selection on the basis of prior academic attainment is prohibited in Irish schools. freely well-off parents inevitably contribute a disproportionately higher amount to the school annually. the voluntary contribution-were about. schools can and do deflect undesirable class 'choices' and encourage desirable ones as their own institutional survival as a particular type of school demands it. although there are huge variations in the amounts levied. Although schools cannot require parents to pay the voluntary contribution. Furthermore. the lower. Of the six schools that had a voluntary contribution in the EPS study.
. Only parents with adequate levels of social as well as economic who were educational insiders. Moran
in a primary school. which can in some cases be communicated publicly in the school to the student. minimal or no voluntary contributions and a history of vocationally-based education. skilled. While school uniforms are often lauded as a mechanism for class levelling within schools. chain-store-available uniforms. Lynch & Lodge.2. schools that educated students from predominantly low-income families had low-cost. schools nevertheless use indirect measures to project class images that actively discourage or encourage particular classes of students from applying. the professional and managerial classes were disproportionately represented in fee-paying schools and in those secondary schools with higher voluntary contributions. expensive and extensive outfits available only in designated department stores. semi-skilled and farming classes were disproportionately represented in the community or designated disadvantaged community and secondary schools that have only basic uniform requirements. Schools targeting upper-middle-class students on the other hand. sports and related facilities. who were sufficiently knowledgeable capital-those and unintimidated by. white collar. The school uniform therefore functioned not only as a signifier of the class status of the school. none published the level of the contribution expected in their prospectuses or on their web sites. had highly specific. School uniforms are class (and gender)5 signifiers. but also as a creator of that status. 1989. 2002). It operated silently as a tool of class selection by indirectly discouraging or encouraging different kinds of parents from applying to particular schools. more restrictive and expensive uniform requirements and stronger traditions of academic achievement. with the more socially selective and elite schools having costly and elaborate uniforms. Evidence from the EPS study shows that some parents referred to the voluntary contribution colloquially as a 'fee'. not least because of the secrecy that surrounds it. Meanwhile. resulting in cross-school differences in extracurricular activities.
colloquially known as 'grind schools'. Full-time private tuition centres. where private colleges or 'grind schools' actively market their results without reference to the socially and academically selective nature of the application process. Social class profile of school types. National parent bodies also oppose league tables (Catholic Schools Parents Association. seeking to make 'informed choices' about their children's education. 2004). who are widely recognized as the most influential body in the education sector. Such marketing strategies appeal directly to the 'active consumerism' of the middle classes (Gewirtz. and 5
4030 20 10 0
Designated Disadvantaged Fee-paying Secondary Free-scheme Secondary Community Colleges
]Social Classes 6 and 7
Figure 1. schools and the convertibility of economic capital
100 90 80" 70 60 50
Social Classes 1 and 2
Social Classes 3. The absence of information about examination results within the state system is in sharp contrast to the private sector.Markets. 2001). are businesses set up to prepare students for examinations. The case for full disclosure of results has been taken to the courts by a number of national newspapers but has not succeeded. 2004).ie.
. 4. School examination results are not published and there is an ongoing debate about the desirability of such a development. especially the Leaving Certificate. 2004) although they have called for more accurate information on schools so they 'can make the best possible choice for their child' (cited in skoool. and from the Joint Managerial Body (the body representing all secondary school managers). There is strong opposition to the potential institution of school league tables from the teacher unions (Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland. will consider a move to the private sector in order to create class advantage for their children. who. Source: Lynch and Lodge (2002)
The role of private businesses Ireland does not have official school league tables and rankings.
with just over one-half of all students taking grinds. 1994). Paralleling the 'grind schools' is a substantial private market for individual tutors. research by the Economic and Social Research Institute in 1994 found that almost one-third of students preparing for the Leaving Certificate examination took grinds outside of school (Economic and Social Research Institute. Although the DES requests information annually from 'grind schools' publicly listed or known to them by other means. In addition. 2282 students were reported as studying full-time for the Leaving Certificate in 2002-03. although the DES only obtained information from 11 when they requested it in 2003.230
K. again. which also suggests that there is a far higher rate of take-up of 'grinds' in more middleclass schools (Lynch & O'Riordan. There is no complete list of these businesses or of the students attending them. While the rate of participation was highest among the middle classes. Although this represents a inflated 1000 students surveyed were attending weekend university seminars on figure-the examination success. Our own desk research allowed us to identify 27 'grind school' businesses. Moran
on a purely commercial (for-profit) basis. the Student Enrichment Services have claimed that 70% of final-year students are in receipt of grinds. again colloquially known as 'grinds'. In these 11 centres (mostly the bigger and better known operations) that responded to the DES request. Lynch and M. July 2004). although they currently have no way of establishing a comprehensive tally' (direct communication from the DES. This represents about 0. Although there is no up-to-date reliable national data on the current rate of participation in completely private tuition or in individual 'grinds'. Therefore.7% of the entire leaving certificate cohort for that year. there are indications that the numbers attending grinds and grind schools are on the increase-with the most recent figures published by the Irish Independent (2005) suggesting that one in every 10 post-primary students is now enrolled full time in either a fee-paying secondary school or a private grind school. What is clear is that grind schools and individual tutors are primarily targeting a wealthy group: it cost E5100 on average per annum for a full set of Leaving Certificate courses in a grind school in 2003/04. 13 of which offer full-time Leaving Certificate courses. The DES claim that the numbers attending 'grind schools on a fulltime basis are much higher than this. no nationally representative study has been carried out. How effective grind schools are in promoting educational advantage is not known as there have been no major studies comparing their intake and examination outcomes with comparable cohorts in regular schools with similar resources. one-fifth of students from working-class backgrounds were also taking grinds (Figure 2) This finding has since been supported by another study. 1998). and were therefore presumably significantly high in cultural and economic capital-the survey has been quoted relentlessly in the Irish media and has helped fuel something of a moral panic about the purported inadequacy of state education in comparison with the private sector. The average rate of pay for individual tutoring or 'grinds' (generally in a student's own home) is E30 per hour. in the absence
. Although. with fees for individual tuition in Leaving Certificate higher level courses generally higher than this again. there is no legal obligation on the 'grind schools' to provide this information as they are legally constituted as private businesses.
with their own status and survivalplaying a vital role in facilitatingparticularclassed outcomes. it is difficult to differentiatebetween what are undoubtedly real increasesin participation rates in privatetuition and a growing stigmatizationof the state sector in Irish public discourse. Figure based on a national sample taking the Leaving Certificate examination in 1994. Parents are but one set of actors in the 'choice' play. data from the EPS study in Ireland show that they can and do operate discrete selection mechanisms that result in strongly classed school identities (Lynch & Lodge. 2002). Schools are active players in the choice process. is that choice is no longer just about parents choosing between schools or schools choosing between different types of
. we need to identify the multiple ways in which choices are operationalizedacross the educational landscape. What the Irish case also shows. While parents can and do make choices between schools. Source:Economic and Social Research Institute (1994). Even when schools cannot 'choose' entrantson the basis of prior academic attainment. some schools also exercise choice in terms of the kinds of children they encourage or discourageto attend. and schools are only one of the stages where the play is acted out.Markets. schools and the convertibilityof economic capital 231
SHigher professional Lower professional Intermediate nonmanual Skilled manual Semi-skilled manual IUnskilled manual ITotal. or simply by catchment area. Note: all figures weighted to take account of sampling
of any empirically sound nationally representativestudy since the mid-1990s. however. Participation in 'grinds' (private tutorials or classes outside of schools) by parental social class: Leaving Certificate. Conclusion To understandhow the dynamicsof choice impact on classed outcomes in education. all classes
40% 30% 20%
No longer simply condoned within the public sphere. 2005). albeit outside the state-financed and state-controlled educational system. vouchers and selective entry systems. It is set against a structural background of economic and social policies in taxation. housing. The choice to educate your children for the Leaving Certificate in institutions that are run as for-profit businesses is one such strategy that is increasingly facilitated. The irony of the emerging market of 'grinds' and 'grind schools' is that the original rationale for 'choice' in Ireland did not emerge from a neo-liberal ideology but came as a result of historical national and political tensions that were often mobilized around religion and the place of religion(s) in the education system. Lynch and M. welfare and inheritance that places middle-class families at a considerable advantage economically. has thus facilitated the emergence of a choice-based system driven by wholly market-based principles.232
K. 2000. It is clear therefore that choice needs to be located synchronically as part of a larger contemporary market-oriented discourse of neo-liberalism. and therefore educationally (Lynch.. where the growth of grind schools is unchecked.. Thus a significant change that has arrived with the hegemonic prevalence of neo-liberal sentiment is the widespread moral endorsement of strategies for parents to advantage their own children. in the Irish context. the ideology of the market reigns within wider society (Kirby. Fahey et al.
. Cantillon et al. The privatization-for-profit of Irish second-level education is under way. where the National Parents Council actively supports the state subsidization of the fee-paying sectorwhere market choice. 2001. Even when the State does not endorse the market model of league tables. middle-class parents use their highly convertible economic capital to open up markets in education outside of the school system itself. granted to secure religious freedom. Nolan et al. 1999. although officially outlawed at the level of the state in education. Parents' constitutional rights to be 'the primary and natural educators' of their children. there is now a growing moralized pressure on parents to 'do the best for their children' by paying for extra education outside of that provided in regular schools.. but between schools and the private market. has slipped through the cracks to become an underground defining feature of the Irish educational landscape. While the 'right to choose' is not endorsed officially by the Irish State in the sense of encouraging competition between schools. 2004). Allen. Choice must also be recognized to operate diachronically as part of a well-established pattern of maximized class privilege in education. 2003). It is to this wider climate of neo-liberal values to which we must look if we want to understand the recent shifts in the Irish educational landscape. health. where the newspaper frenzy implicitly endorses and adds to the profit-oriented sector. In such a context it becomes increasingly apparent that there can be no equality of opportunity without equality of condition in education (Lynch & Baker. sanctioned and encouraged within the current neo-liberal zeitgeist. was facilitated by the piecemeal growth of private and public education around already existing religious and political divides. Moran
children. which. 2002. Those who have superior economic resources can exercise choice not just between schools. there is now a choice between schools and the private market.
Journal of Education Policy. 2002) examined the role schools played in either promoting equality or challenging inequality by analysing the ways schools selected. Baker. particularly those situated in areas with a mixed religious population. L. institutional quality of schooling. operating as tools of surveillance over young women in particular. A. 18(1). & Walsh. 22 March. J. J.. and 70 focus groups were held involving 280 students The number of these schools is declining steadily as most were set up specifically to recruit people to religious life for the Roman Catholic Church. Protestant boarding schools in rural areas. & Wiseman. God and inequality (New York. Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology. (2003) Class strategies and the education market: the middle classes and social advantage (London. K.
. P. (2004) Educational entrepreneurialism in the private tutoring industry: balancing profitability with the humanistic face of schooling. Notes
1. 2003). W. National University of Ireland Maynooth who is the co-author with K. Aurini.. 41(4).
5. 1-17. & Yamashita. W. is examined in considerable detail in the EPS study and in Inside Classrooms(Lyons et al.. 162 classes were observed and audio recorded. Each school was visited on at least three occasions with a full two and three weeks spent in each. Coulter & S. inequalities and inner city school leavers' post-16 aspirations. Coleman (Eds) The end of Irish history?Critical reflectionson Celtic TigerIreland (Manchester. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. Cantillon. G. and cross-national mathematics achievement.
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Acknowledgement We wish to acknowledge the work of Anne Lodge. although this issue has never been the subject of public debate This is generally not the case outside Dublin. Ball.
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