Tag Archives: social inequality

Videos of Conference Panel V: “Inequality, Education and the Labor Market”

Chair: Andreas Eckert (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin/Forum)DSC02159


Augustin Emane (Institut d’Etudes Avancées de Nantes)

Patricio Solís (El Colegio de México, Mexico City)

Anja Weiß (Universität Duisburg-Essen)

In many societies, (higher) education has been equated with a form of professional formation whose focus lies on the requirements of enterprises. At the same time, a reduced individual dividend for education (that is, a decreasing value of titles and degrees because of an increasing level of education throughout the whole society) has become observable. To what extent are opportunities in the labor market dependent on education and (to what extent) has this connection loosened during the last decades? Besides university studies, which alternative routes are likely to lead to a successful career? How are the factors of inter-generational inequality, on the one hand, and education and the labor market, on the other, intertwined?

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A Continuing Question in Gabon: The Correlation Between Education and Labor Market Needs

Conference Paper to be presented by Augustin Emane

Augustin Emane is Associated Professor at the University of Nantes. He teaches Labor Law and Social Security Law. His research focuses on occupational risks in France, labor law in France and in French-speaking countries in Africa, and health systems in Europe and Africa. He also works on the transfer of Western legal categories in Africa and labor law in Brazil.

This paper examines Gabon, a country with a high level of schooling (more than 80%) compared with the average in other African countries (less than 50%), but where social inequalities and the level of unemployment are rather high. It is this paradox that we will try to explain. Education for us means school, which is traditionally used in Gabon to change social class or to reach a more prestigious situation. It allows us to fight social inequalities. Thanks to school, we acquire knowledge and competencies that lead on to get a job. For several years, this model was very effective, and the elite that we find governing us today has benefited from this promotion via education. Up to the 1980s, the labor market had integrated all the people who were schooled. The new job seeker had lots of choices concerning his job.

After the second oil crisis in 1979, things started to change. The state’s financial difficulties led to a reconsideration of the number of people it employed. Private companies faced an incredible number of job seekers, who did not always correspond to their needs. The principal reason for this situation is in fact the colonial period. Since the introduction of modern work in Gabon, office jobs have carried prestige, and school has often been considered a way of getting such ideal jobs. Anthropology and sociology could explain better this phenomenon. The logical consequence of this trend was that the literary field was privileged over the scientific field (seen for a long time as a course for prospective technicians and manual workers).

For the last 30 years, education has remained an indispensable way of integrating the labor market. But this is not enough. Inequalities are going to appear between the different academic routes. Different choices of courses lead to different job opportunities. It is now the opposite: scientific courses guarantee more job opportunities. A second type of inequality results from differences among the schools, or among countries. A third inequality is in the nationality of the company of employment. 

Educational Stratification in Brazil: 1960 to 2010

Conference Paper to be presented by Carlos Costa Ribeiro

 Carlos A. Costa Ribeiro is Professor of Sociology and Director of Graduate Studies at the Instituto de Estudos Sociais e Políticos, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro. His research focuses on the determinants of economic opportunity within and across generations.

The paper studies inequality of educational opportunity in Brazil from 1960 to 2010. Census data is used to analyze educational careers of children and youth in Brazil in this period. These five decades were characterized not only by an enormous expansion of the educational system, but also by major social changes in terms of urbanization and industrialization. While in 1960 55 percent of the population lived in rural areas, in 2010 only 15 percent were in the countryside. From 1960 to 1980, the country’s economy grew extremely fast mainly because of industrialization and the expansion of service sectors in the economy. This period was also one of increasing income inequality. In contrast, from 1990 to 2010, the country’s economy grew at a slower pace, but income inequality decreased. The data analyzed indicates that social background inequality in terms of parental income and schooling decreased for offspring entering and completing primary education, remained constant for those entering and completing secondary education, and increased for those entering college. Gender and racial inequality in educational transitions decreased throughout the period. These trends culminated in a very large expansion of youth attending college. Therefore, I also present some analyses of horizontal stratification on the university level in terms of fields of specialization. The data on completion of college for different professions is analyzed in terms of income returns, gender, and race. The analyses indicate changes and continuities in horizontal stratification among people with credentials in different careers. In particular, gender inequality in labor market returns on tertiary education decreased significantly, while racial inequality remained very high.

Education as a Fundamental Right: Deconstructing Socio-historical Discourses and Challenges

Research Project (to be discussed at the Winter Academy) by Latika Gupta.

Latika Gupta teaches courses in educational theory and pedagogy at the Central Institute of Education, University of Delhi. She is currently pursuing a study on the deconstruction of discourse of the recently enacted Right to Education in India.

The challenge facing the Indian system of education, especially at the elementary stage, cannot be adequately met unless we examine the discourses and practices that have shaped the social construction of childhood and schooling. The recently enacted Right to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act demands and creates an opportunity for identifying and deconstructing such discourses and to examine them, not merely as problematic practices, but rather as culturally drawn borders between state and society. This project interrogates two such discourses: ‘child labour’ and ‘child marriage’ so that the larger socio-economic and cultural context can be examined in which education works. It studies this larger context by probing two discourses that constitute the conditions in which children of disadvantaged backgrounds struggle in order to fulfil their aspiration for education and the personal and social purposes associated with it.

The first of these is the discourse of child labour. This is called a discourse because it has shaped not merely the state’s policies towards the poor but also the popular perception of the lives and potential of children who live in poverty. One dimension of this discourse is the perception that teachers have of poor children’s ability to learn and engage with school knowledge. Children who worked officially as labour or who help their parents because of poverty both fall in this category. When such children come to school and sit in the class with others, in what ways do they get distinguished for their working role at home, and what are the implications of this distinction for their adjustment at school and learning? At this juncture, it becomes important to ask: ‘While poverty persists, can the child’s education be protected from it?’

The second discourse is of child-marriage. In the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-III survey, 47.3% of women reported that they got married before the age of 18. Out of these, 2.6 percent were married before they turned 13 and 22.6 percent were married before they were 16. Faced with these figures, we need to ask: ‘What are the school’s epistemological and cultural resources to act on behalf of the state in its battle against a practice as persistent as child marriage?’ The discourse of child-marriage is not restricted to the event per se. Its phenomenological power lies in the socialization of girls by the family in the anticipation of an early marriage. Is the school prepared to deal and critically engage with a patriarchal milieu in which girls are prepared from early life for marriage—an extended notion of the discourse of child marriage—and responsibility for work, even though it is officially not labelled as labour?

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Who Studies What, Where and Why? Systemic Inequalities beyond Affirmative Action Policies in Indian Higher Education

Research Project (to be discussed at the Winter Academy) by V. Kalyan Shankar.

V. Kalyan Shankar is ICSSR Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Economics, University of Pune (India). His doctoral research was based on the emergence and deepening of inter-country value-addition chains among select Southeast Asian economies.

In the delivery systems of higher education in India, there has been an attempt to counter social inequalities through implementing a system of affirmative action policies – implying positive discrimination – in favor of the disadvantaged. Lack of access to education is posited as a problem of those left out from the delivery systems, of inadequate representation and participation of certain social groups. The state intervention in countering underrepresentation has been through the constitutional provisions for reservations. The debates surrounding reservations and their implementation have been fought on several turfs. In addition to the more conspicuous divide of affirmative action versus meritocracy, academic enquiries have probed into reservations on caste versus class grounds, on the need for expanding the umbrella of reservations to a wider segment of the society and more recently, on the inadequacy and irrelevance of affirmative action once the turf changes from academics to employment.

Even as these debates are running their course, what about the delivery systems of education, the terrain on which the edifice of reservations is built? While socio-economic backgrounds do influence individual participation in education, can differentiated access to education be attributed solely to them? Can the systems be really termed fair in their attempt at creating equality of access? It needs to be recognized that the systems themselves generate their own set of embodied institutional distortions that get superimposed over and above socio-economic inequalities. This project seeks to explore the systemic dimensions of inequality in Indian education. This work has been centered on the distortions resulting from structural overlaps in the delivery systems and the restriction of choices in higher education based on the medium of instruction in schooling.

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Gender Inequalities in Medical Education: Accessibility of Orthopedic Training for Female Interns in Egypt

Research Project (to be discussed at the Winter Academy) by Marwa Schumann.

Marwa Schumann works as an instructor at the medical education department, faculty of medicine of the Alexandria University. She is currently researching gender inequalities in medical education.

Feminizations of medicine and gender inequality are paradoxical factors with an increasing influence on the field of surgery in general and orthopedic surgery in particular. The increased number of female medical students and graduates has led to a paradoxical shortage of orthopedic surgery residents; only a very small proportion of female graduates choose to become orthopedic surgeons. Reasons included female disinterest in orthopedics, the long working hours, increased physical demands, male domination and male nature of the field causing biases and stereotypes about and against women. Female exposure to negative attitudes discouraging them from choosing a specific “male-dominated” career show how education can function as means of reinforcing social and gender inequalities rather than correcting them.

Main objectives of the research are to determine the gender influences on access to education and training of interns, to explore the motivations and expectations of a female intern training in the orthopedic surgery department and to explore the challenges facing the first female intern choosing orthopedic surgery training.

This is a qualitative study carried out within the framework of a narrative inquiry methodology where data is generated in the form of stories. It is situated in constructivist epistemology where knowledge is “socially constructed”. Purposeful sampling was carried out to conduct semi- structured interviews with the first female intern training in the orthopedic surgery department to explore her motivation, expectations, preparation and challenges she faced to get the approval for orthopedic training. A focus group discussion is chosen to elicit the attitudes of peers. Interviews and focus group discussions will be audio-recorded, transcribed, translated and analyzed.

Gender issues seem to affect the training and learning experience of house officers in general and those training in the surgery departments in particular. Sexism and negative attitudes towards women working as physicians in general and as surgeons in specific, act as barriers against achieving expected skills and competences. The hidden curriculum plays an important role in gender discrimination. Negative effects of gender discrimination among house officers extend beyond de-motivation of trainees and limiting the career choices to affect the quality and safety of healthcare provided. Equal training opportunities should be provided to medical interns regardless their gender.

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