The "sponsored" mode of social reproduction and the primary school classroom in the Federal Republic of Germany

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1986

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Abstract

This study was designed to inquire into the relationship between social stratification and education in the Federal Republic of Germany and to explore the extent and manner in which cultural folk norms or ideologies (delineated by Ralph Turner and Earl Hopper) are drawn upon to legitimate or challenge the status quo. A three-fold research approach was adopted in order to examine the structures and processes of societal and educational issues from both a macro as well as micro level perspective. Specifically, the historical development of German education and its current status were first reviewed. The focus was then narrowed to investigate schooling and teaching, particularly in terms of the process whereby pupils transfer from primary school to one of the three available branches of secondary schooling. To this end, a survey was conducted among a sample of public primary school teachers in Munich, followed by an ethnographic field study consisting of personal interviews and direct observation within one primary school located in a working class neighborhood. The historical review revealed that, despite the expansion of all types and levels of schooling in terms of numbers of pupils, the proportion enrolled in each of the three branches of secondary schooling continues to be highly unequal in terms of social class. The primary school teachers surveyed were a fairly homogeneous sample in terms of their familial and educational backgrounds. In regard to their views concerning the educational selection process, these teachers were nearly evenly divided in reflecting sponsored/ elitist, contest/egalitarian or a combination of these types of ideologies. The fieldwork revealed that pupils' educational careers are shaped during the first school years. Their choice of transferring to a particular type of secondary schooling is greatly influenced by the extent to which they are perceived to possess the cultural capital valued in German society. This process continues to deny the vast majority of pupils the opportunity to enter the college preparatory branch of the tripartite system of secondary schooling, thereby severely restricting their occupational choices and thus their eventual life chances.

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Keywords

Education, Primary--Germany (West), Educational sociology--Germany (West), Elementary school teachers--Germany (West)--Attitudes

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