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DUBET, François; DURU-BELLAT, Marie  and  VERETOUT, Antoine. Upstream and downstream school inequalities: School organization and diplomas influence. Sociologias [online]. 2012, vol.14, n.29, pp.22-70. ISSN 1517-4522.

School reproduces social inequalities everywhere as it is more favorable to already advantaged pupils. This is, however, a too general "law" for explaining the large variations revealed by international comparisons in the amplitude of this reproduction. Relying upon these studies, this paper shows first that these variations cannot be explained directly by the amplitude of social inequalities. In order to explain them, two other factors must be raised. The first one concerns the organization of the school systems, which may either widen or mitigate the impact of pupils' social background on their academic achievement. The second one concerns the influence of diplomas on access to various social positions. The paper shows that the more diplomas play a deciding role, the more pronounced are school inequalities and the more acute is the reproduction of social inequalities. Finally, it is not only what is produced in school and through its operation that determines the amplitude of the reproduction, but the own role attributed to school by the various societies. This study achieved on a sample of countries stands at an aggregate level, and some qualitative complementary studies would be very useful for better understand how social reproduction operates.

Keywords : school inequalities; social inequalities; educational system; social reproduction; diplomas; international comparison.

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