9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN10 Sociology of Education

2009-09-05 09:00:00 2009-09-05 10:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 09:00 - 10:30 Social Inequalities III Building I, 2E6

Effects of school organization on the unequal outcomes: A qualitative study in a primary school in Istanbul, Turkey

The effect of students? social backgrounds, such as class, gender, or ethnicity, on their educational success, and in general, on unequal educational outcomes is a well-studied topic. However, how school organization influences unequal outcomes is less known. Here I will address this issue by analyzing the organization format of a primary school in Istanbul. During my field work of four months I conducted participant observation, as well as interviews with school administrators, teachers, students and parents, which I interpret using the documentary method.

In the school I studied, I identified two basic effects of the school organization: (1) It enforces social inequalities by sorting the students into different classes, specifically, at the 1st class based on signs of parents' social backgrounds, such as accent or outfit, and at the 6th class, based on the students? success during the previous five school years. This organization generates a significant difference among the classes, but also certain homogeneity within a class. Furthermore, teachers? attitudes differ in different classes. Also the students? educational expectations and future plans are strongly influenced by the class they are attending. (2) The school administration?s (and in certain situations, the Education Ministry?s) regulations regarding the use of school space and feasibilities also affect equality in a negative way. For example, all the activities, such as training for the general examinations, cultural activities, etc., take place after the school time. This leads to a strong disadvantage against the female students who are responsible for younger siblings or household work, and male students who are working after school. My results indicate the significant and active role of school organization in promoting unequal outcomes.