Education As Promises of Social Advancement or Processes of Marginalization? an Institutional Ethnography of the Reproduction of Social Inequality in Lower Secondary Schools

Monday, 16 July 2018: 11:05
Oral Presentation
Petra NEUHOLD, University of Vienna, Austria
Broadly outlined two opposite discourses shape the post-PISA debates about migrant lower secondary school pupils and their low educational performance in Austria. Some scientist and public media discourses blame migrant pupils and their parents for not willing to integrate into society. Their negative educational performance is seen as result of their allegedly resistance to learning the German language and their different `cultural` background, which has to be overcome by a German-only-imperative, by teaching European values and by a more authoritarian disciplinary teaching culture. Other linguists and sociologists criticize the monolingual school system and particularly teachers for not recognizing multilingualism and not reflecting their own racist prejudices.

Migrant pupils, their parents and teachers are held accountable for the negative educational performance of lower secondary school pupils. Though teachers have more power than pupils and their parents, I will argue that all three groups become scapegoats of broader societal and educational crises. By adopting the perspective of secondary school teachers on this situation, describing their ordinary practices and the related challenges they face, the aim of the paper is a change in perspective: As a sociologist and a secondary teacher I will analyze parts of the complex (institutional) ruling relations that structure teachers’ and pupils’ everyday school life and hinder democratic and quality education for migrant pupils. I will not acquit teachers of racism, but connect their practices with broader institutional and societal conditions in order to understand how education becomes an undependable route to upward social mobility.