Learning and human development: sociological explanations of learning inequalities

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Socialization and selection are agreed within the sociology of education to be the two main functions of the school as a social institution. On the one hand, schools inculcate values and norms that are key to constructing students’ identities. On the other, schools transmit knowledge and skills that are critical to explaining individuals’ social positions. The main question addressed in this chapter is the following: what shapes how children and young people engage with school and the perceived purpose of education? This question includes both the socialization and the selection function of the school and it interrogates the role of education in learning and human development in broad terms. The chapter aims to provide an overview of how the sociology of education has engaged with this topic. To this end, the chapter identifies five principal mechanisms stressed by the discipline to explain the role of schooling in ‘producing’ human beings, mediating their school experience and guaranteeing their learning and educational success, namely: structural mechanisms; systemic mechanisms; institutional mechanisms; relational mechanisms; and subjective mechanisms. For each of these, the main theoretical, conceptual and empirical contributions of classical and contemporary sociological research are shared. These mechanisms work in concert, resulting in processes of learning and human development that are profoundly shaped by, and in turn themselves extend social-class inequalities in education.
Idioma originalInglés
Título de la publicación alojadaSociological Foundations of Education
EditoresClaire Maxwell, Miri Yemini, Laura Engel
Número de páginas22
ISBN (versión digital)9781350171022
EstadoPublicada - 2023


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