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The impact of primary schools' socioeconomic composition on social differences in educational choice at the transition from primary to secondary education in Flanders (Belgium)

Mieke Van Houtte UGent and Simon Boone UGent (2012) Abstract of International Sociological Association Mid-term conference.
abstract
Several studies conducted in various European countries have shown that at the transition from primary to secondary education working class parents do less often opt for the more demanding—academic—tracks in secondary education than service class parents, even if their children achieved equally well throughout primary school. The persistence of these inequalities has mainly been explained by invoking social class differentials in scholastic achievement as well as in educational choice, net of achievement. In many European countries parents, along with their children, have to choose between mutually exclusive educational tracks at a fairly young age, leading to very different educational outcomes. In recent years rational action theory has become predominant in research on socioeconomic differences in educational choice, witness the growing number of studies inspired by this theoretical perspective. Rational action theories explain inequalities in educational choice by referring to the different cost-benefit calculations parents with different socioeconomic status arrive at when faced with an educational decision. Whereas for a working class child it may suffice to enrol in some form of technical or vocational education, for a child stemming from a service class family, on the contrary, only academic education is a viable option. However, very little, if any, research has been taking into account features of the primary school in explaining this social inequality in educational choice. Yet, educational choice does not take place in a vacuum, for pupils’ preferences are socially constructed through interaction with peers and other significant persons. In present study we aim to test empirically by means of multilevel analysis whether and how the association between socioeconomic background and educational choice at the transition from primary to secondary education in Flanders—the northern Dutch-speaking part of Belgium—is affected by the socioeconomic composition of the primary school. By means of multilevel analysis, with cross-level interaction, on data gathered in 2008 from 1339 parents of pupils in their last year of primary education in a sample of 53 Flemish primary schools, this study examines whether the association between socioeconomic background (SES) and educational choice at the transition from primary to secondary education is affected by the socioeconomic composition (SES) of the primary school. Results show that educational choices of average-SES pupils are not determined by the SES-composition of the primary school. For pupils with a higher than average SES the SES-composition exerts a positive influence, indicating that for pupils with a higher than average SES higher-SES pupils function as a normative reference group with respect to educational choice. For pupils with a lower than average SES, the effect of SES-composition is negligible, but negative. This points into the direction of relative deprivation, or an illustration of a frog-pond-effect regarding SES.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
conference
publication status
unpublished
subject
in
Abstract of International Sociological Association Mid-term conference
publisher
International Sociological Association (ISA)
conference name
Transitions (Role/Status Exits and Entries)
conference location
Tampa, FL, USA
conference start
2012-01-13
conference end
2012-01-15
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
C3
id
2025253
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-2025253
date created
2012-02-09 12:21:29
date last changed
2012-02-10 09:51:58
@inproceedings{2025253,
  abstract     = {Several studies conducted in various European countries have shown that at the transition from primary to secondary education working class parents do less often opt for the more demanding---academic---tracks in secondary education than service class parents, even if their children achieved equally well throughout primary school. The persistence of these inequalities has mainly been explained by invoking social class differentials in scholastic achievement as well as in educational choice, net of achievement. In many European countries parents, along with their children, have to choose between mutually exclusive educational tracks at a fairly young age, leading to very different educational outcomes. In recent years rational action theory has become predominant in research on socioeconomic differences in educational choice, witness the growing number of studies inspired by this theoretical perspective. Rational action theories explain inequalities in educational choice by referring to the different cost-benefit calculations parents with different socioeconomic status arrive at when faced with an educational decision. Whereas for a working class child it may suffice to enrol in some form of  technical or vocational education, for a child stemming from a service class family, on the contrary, only academic education is a viable option. However, very little, if any, research has been taking into account features of the primary school in explaining this social inequality in educational choice. Yet, educational choice does not take place in a vacuum, for pupils{\textquoteright} preferences are socially constructed through interaction with peers and other significant persons. In present study we aim to test empirically by means of multilevel analysis whether and how the association between socioeconomic background and educational choice at the transition from primary to secondary education in Flanders---the northern Dutch-speaking part of Belgium---is affected by the socioeconomic composition of the primary school. By means of multilevel analysis, with cross-level interaction, on data gathered in 2008 from 1339 parents of pupils in their last year of primary education in a sample of 53 Flemish primary schools, this study examines whether the association between socioeconomic background (SES) and educational choice at the transition from primary to secondary education is affected by the socioeconomic composition (SES) of the primary school. Results show that educational choices of average-SES pupils are not determined by the SES-composition of the primary school. For pupils with a higher than average SES the SES-composition exerts a positive influence, indicating that for pupils with a higher than average SES higher-SES pupils function as a normative reference group with respect to educational choice. For pupils with a lower than average SES, the effect of SES-composition is negligible, but negative. This points into the direction of relative deprivation, or an illustration of a frog-pond-effect regarding SES.},
  author       = {Van Houtte, Mieke and Boone, Simon},
  booktitle    = {Abstract of International Sociological Association Mid-term conference},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Tampa, FL, USA},
  publisher    = {International Sociological Association (ISA)},
  title        = {The impact of primary schools' socioeconomic composition on social differences in educational choice at the transition from primary to secondary education in Flanders (Belgium)},
  year         = {2012},
}

Chicago
Van Houtte, Mieke, and Simon Boone. 2012. “The Impact of Primary Schools’ Socioeconomic Composition on Social Differences in Educational Choice at the Transition from Primary to Secondary Education in Flanders (Belgium).” In Abstract of International Sociological Association Mid-term Conference. International Sociological Association (ISA).
APA
Van Houtte, M., & Boone, S. (2012). The impact of primary schools’ socioeconomic composition on social differences in educational choice at the transition from primary to secondary education in Flanders (Belgium). Abstract of International Sociological Association Mid-term conference. Presented at the Transitions (Role/Status Exits and Entries), International Sociological Association (ISA).
Vancouver
1.
Van Houtte M, Boone S. The impact of primary schools’ socioeconomic composition on social differences in educational choice at the transition from primary to secondary education in Flanders (Belgium). Abstract of International Sociological Association Mid-term conference. International Sociological Association (ISA); 2012.
MLA
Van Houtte, Mieke, and Simon Boone. “The Impact of Primary Schools’ Socioeconomic Composition on Social Differences in Educational Choice at the Transition from Primary to Secondary Education in Flanders (Belgium).” Abstract of International Sociological Association Mid-term Conference. International Sociological Association (ISA), 2012. Print.