9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN10 Sociology of Education

2009-09-04 13:30:00 2009-09-04 15:00:00 Friday, 4 September 13:30 - 15:00 Social Inequalities II Building I, 2E6

Family school investment and schooling context: at the crossroads of family and school strategies

The aim of this paper is to analyse how family school investment is affected by the schooling contexts. The framework of this analysis is the idea of the complex nature of the relationship between families and schools.
Being aware that the attended school context is a key ingredient to make a difference in children?s school careers, school (or class) choice is, increasingly, at the centre of family strategies. Furthermore, research has shown that family strategies can work in symbiosis with school strategies for students? recruitment and with policies focused on schools? autonomy.
The idea that the schooling context is not neutral (interfering with the investment made by individuals) has been stressed by the sociology of education at least since the 70s, through the school effects? studies. These studies have essentially tried to show that schools make a difference, regardless family influence. This approach was developed as a critique to macrosociological studies that explained family school investment from a culturalist perspective or from the theory of rational action.
Anyway, these perspectives reveal to be unable to capture the complex phenomena of the relationship and mutual influence between schools and families. Alternatively, we are interested to stress that families interfere in school characteristics and dynamics, triggering reactions and strategies in the schools, which, in turn, feedback an impact on those dynamics. Thus, the school context works as a crossroad between the particular interests and strategies of families and schools.
We tried to research the relationship between family school investment (particularly the expectations of continuation of studies) and the social composition of schools and their classes; the involvement of young people and their parents in school work, teachers? pedagogical practice; and the school organizational context.
The results come from two researches made in Portugal (at the archipelago of the Azores) and concern the end of compulsory schooling. The first, already completed, included a survey of 409 youngsters and 119 parents, and documental research, as well (Diogo, 2008).The second, still ongoing, includes a survey of 1913 students (Diogo et al., 2008). Data analysis is quantitative, involving the use of descriptive statistics and logistic regression analysis.