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Educação e Pesquisa

Print version ISSN 1517-9702On-line version ISSN 1678-4634


DURU-BELLAT, Marie. Amplitude and peculiar aspects of social inequalities in the French school. Educ. Pesqui. [online]. 2005, vol.31, n.1, pp.13-30. ISSN 1517-9702.

French sociology denounces vehemently since the end of the 1960s the important and standing social inequalities both in the access to the different levels of education and in school success stricto sensu. Such criticism has taken the form of a general theory put forward by Bourdieu and Passeron, in which such social inequalities are shown to be the necessary result of the functioning of the school institution. And this thesis, hugely influential not just among sociologists, but also more widely, has contributed to foster certain fatalism, since it establishes that the very function of school is to reproduce and legitimize the social inequalities. On the other hand, it has also produced a continuous flow of works aimed at providing it with empirical support. This article presents in a summarized way the main results accumulated by French sociology of education along these lines, that is, with respect to social inequalities at school. In the analysis of the genesis of those inequalities, the article distinguishes the individual mechanisms from the contextual ones, as well as inequalities that emerge from school success stricto sensu from those that result from the phenomena of school guidance and choices. The issue of the responsibility of the school itself with respect to those inequalities is considered as a conclusion to the text, indicating that the school's role as regards social inequalities is adjusted by structural factors, calling, as far as theories such as Bourdieu's are concerned, for a qualification of its importance or at least for its profound reconsideration.

Keywords : Social inequalities; School success; Career and school choice; Effects of school context.

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