Regions outside Europe are often attested a higher level of social heterogeneity and inequality on various axes. But even in Western Europe, social change and processes of migration have generated a greater degree of social diversity during the last decades. Which interdependencies, if any, can be traced between social heterogeneity and ideas/systems of education? In which contexts has education facilitated the empowerment of marginalized subjects and groups? How do students from different social backgrounds make use of educational opportunities? What role do habitus and practices of assessment within the educational institutions play? What influence do gender and class inequalities or other factors of social discrimination have on the accessibility of (higher) education? What experience do we have with affirmative action and quotas? When does education become a cause of social mobilization? Do the poor receive a different form of education?
The question of which forms of knowledge are recognized as education – or in German “Bildung” – can be fundamentally contested. Therefore, the process that renders certain forms of knowledge education while excluding others needs to be problematized as an arena of (implicit) political struggle and as a way of wielding social power. Moreover, many regions outside Europe have been affected by colonial pasts. This panel seeks to address the complex topic of global knowledge asymmetries, by asking questions such as: What is the relationship between indigenous knowledge/education and external influences? To what extent have colonial legislation, the associated institutional structures and ideas of education, elite, etc. been impacting on (post-) colonial systems of education? What influence does the formation of the (nation-) state and subsequent politico-economic developments have on ideas and practices of inequality and education?
Education is sometimes thought of as the means of reducing structural inequalities within and across societies. Nevertheless, access to education itself can be distributed in unequal ways, contingent on the very structures it is supposed to even out. A historical perspective reveals that educational opportunities were often tailored to the social background or gender of the students. Sometimes, such differentiations have been institutionalized as parallel strands within education systems, which can result in the exclusion of certain groups from mainstream education and subsequent career opportunities. This opening panel seeks to address general questions and concepts with a view to the relationship among inequality, education and social power, such as: When and how do structures of education work in favor, and when do they work against social mobility? How are issues of inequality and education dealt with in different countries and regions, which topics are considered crucial and which actors are involved in the debate?
Conference Paper to be presented by Martha Zapata Galindo
Martha Zapata Galindo is a Lecturer and Researcher at the Institute for Latin American Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin. Her research interests include social inclusion and higher education, intersectionality and feminist theory, social movements, women’s and feminist movements, democratization and intellectual processes in Latin America and the circulation of knowledge.
Social inclusion, equality, and diversity programs have not always been a priority in universities in Latin America. Recent analysis of the current situation and trends in higher education show various types of inequalities. Those that stand out in the social and urban areas are inequalities of gender, ethnicity and race, and income. The various strategies for social inclusion and equality that were developed in recent years, regionally and on a local level and with the support of public policies and actions, have resulted in substantial changes in university enrollment and the composition of its various populations. Among the many measures introduced to combat social exclusion in the higher education institutions of Latin America, along with projects for gender mainstreaming and scholarship programs for low-income groups in different higher education institutions of Latin American countries (Argentina Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru and Uruguay), the most noteworthy have been models that promote the inclusion of Afro-descendants and indigenous peoples, as have been implemented in Brazil, Colombia and Peru, to name a few. Despite the heterogeneity that characterizes Latin America, the range of coverage in higher education and college enrollment itself varies significantly between the different countries. There is precise data about certain groups of recipients, for example the process of the feminization of the student enrollment in higher education in virtually all Latin American countries. However, regarding ethnic diversity – the strong presence of indigenous and Afro-descendants in many Latin American countries who have been historically marginalized in accessing education – and special-needs populations and different types of disabilities, we cannot count on the existence of reliable, comparable and up-to-date data. Continue reading →
Hebe Vessuri is an anthropologist and currently research collaborator at the Research Center of Environmental Geography (CIGA), Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). Her research focuses on science in world peripheries, the current internationalization of the social sciences and the interface between higher education, scientific research and other forms of knowledge.
To understand the role of science as a relevant component of the ideology of modernity in Latin America, we must recognize that, until the last quarter of the twentieth century, with different chronologies and nuances acording to the countries, the predominant form of social organization was the “state-national-popular matrix”. This matrix was based on the model of endogenous development, the “compromise state” (which corresponded to a pattern of unstable arrangements between the middle classes, organized working classes and dominant classes formed by the bourgeoisie and the oligarchy), social movements politically oriented toward the state and social integration, and the exclusion of peasants and the urban poor.
The populist formula implied the massification of public services and allowed a certain initial basic social democratization, in the form of access to specified goods or services. Crucial among them were the universalistic and expansive character of social policies: public education first, then public universities and the institutionalization of scientific-technical research were part of the process. The development crisis led to structural adjustments since the 1980s, which implied a problematic transition to another development model in which economic policies were aligned with the “Washington Consensus” and were later made viable by international organizations such as the IMF and the World Bank. In all cases, poverty and inequalities increased while the hithero existing relationship between the state and the social actors disarticulated, weakening their organizational and ideological capacity.
In recent years, several models linked to the reconstruction of relationships between state and society were proposed as responses to globalization. Scientific activity entered into the strategies of these models in different forms, as part of more or less exclusionist technocratic ideologies or of elitist programs, as an integral component of the identity struggles and for giving a sense of ownership to the modernization and transformation processes (cultural diversity) or as a general critique of the relationships between state and society. This paper briefly reviews five such models in which science and higher education play specific roles. The responses have fluctuated between equality and its need of a locus (society), and equity, which is an absolute principle that does not require a locus (such as a specific society). And they have occurred in the context of new inequalities, of globalization and of ascriptions as valued sources for social diversity and differentiation.
Research Project (to be discussed at the Winter Academy) by Nicolás Brunet.
Nicolás Brunet is a sociologist at the Centre of Sociological Studies, El Colegio de México. He is currently pursuing his PhD with a focus on inequality generating processes in a longitudinal perspective, both at educational and occupational transitions.
Past generations of stratification and social mobility studies have concentrated only on comparative examinations of mobility rates and mobility tables between countries. They have provided a comparative portrait of distinct mobility regimes linked to socioeconomic and industrial development degrees, as well as historical change of occupational patterns throughout different cohorts. In view of the fact that they work on a societal level, little insights were given on the individual level of job/status attainment. In addition, by mixing individuals of different ages, sociodemographic and occupational experiences, classical studies usually have arrived at an unrealistic and without-context picture of the individual level. Notwithstanding the importance of that task, the inequality generating process has remained a “black box”. This project suggests that combining the stratification and social mobility tradition with a life course perspective (LCP) could help us to tackle some of those “black box” restrictions. Thus, the aim of this research is the comparative analysis of trajectories of three Mexican birth cohorts (1951-53; 1966-68 and 1978-80), throughout school inequalities, occupational chances and social roles competition at different institutional and social settings and opportunities. By multilevel life event modeling techniques, this project looks at stratification trajectories, based on family background tradition, but also, by using an interlocking careers perspective. Contributing to a “connected” portrait of life course stratification logic, it also explores evidence of “cumulative advantages” versus “age-transitional” lifetime processes. At the individual level, it uses longitudinal retrospective information provided by “Encuesta Demográfica Retrospectiva” (EDER 2011) at the national level. To set up institutional and social settings, it uses data of General Population, Household and Housing Census (1960, 1970, 1990, 2000 y 2010) provided by IPUMS International Project.
Research Project (to be discussed at the Winter Academy) by Cecilia Pereda.
Cecilia Pereda is a doctoral student in the social sciences postgraduate program of the General Sarmiento National University (UNGS) and the Social and Economical Development Institute (IDES), Argentina. She has been working and researching on education topics for fifteen years in state, non-state and international programs.
Since the last decade of the 20th century in many Latin American countries the role of non-state actors in the educational sector has been strengthened, while national education systems have been devaluated within a state and economic crisis context. The devaluation of public education has also occurred in Uruguay but it cannot be attributed to the former situation. State centrality in the educational sector continued in the first decade of the 21st century and, at the same time, there were calls for non-profit actors to co-develop some formal education programs with the aim that adolescents go back to school. These kinds of state programs are not only managed by social organizations and ocated in non-state buildings, but they are also developed by state teachers and pedagogical supervisors. Called communitarian, such programs are involved in local relationships among state and non-state social and educational actors. This project suggests that these local relationships reinforce education and welfare programs by adjusting them to local needs and provide teachers with social knowledge to work with adolescents living in worst life conditions. As a consequence, the complex configuration of actors, actions, logics and scenes present in these local relationships and promoted by such state education programs called communitarian cannot be considered as a simple trend of privatization. A better understanding of the communitarian sphere in educational and social-public policies is needed.
Six members of the Steering Committee have faced the difficult task of selecting 20 participants out of almost 100 applications for the International Winter Academy “Inequality, Education and Social Power: Transregional Perspectives”.
The selection process is now completed and you will soon find a list of selected candidates on this blog. The participants come from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Latin America. They have a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds, coming from such different fields as educational studies, sociology, cultural studies, social sciences, economics, development studies, anthropology, history as well as different area studies. The Steering Committee is very much looking forward to meeting this interesting group in Berlin in November 2014!