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The school-family relationship in socially divided Swedish lower secondary schools
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
2013 (English)In: Barn, ISSN 0800-1669, Vol. 31, no 4, 89-103 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article examines the school-family relationship in order to understand what significance the family has for teachers, students, and head teachers. Drawing on theory by Reay (2004), this article deploys family and school habitus to analyse two Swedish lower-secondary schools with different social structures. The data consist of interviews and observations. Results indicate that one of the schools has a compatible habitus – that is, similar values among its families about education – which simplifies the relationship and allows it to be used to strengthen and develop school practices. The other school has a diverse habitus – that is, different values among its families about education. Therefore an equal relationship is more difficult to facilitate, because the families have different abilities to take on this responsibility. This article concludes that developing a pedagogy that fully integrates and acknowledges students’ ideas and life experiences is a potential force to change a school’s habitus, diminish the importance of the family habitus in schooling, and ensure that students receive equivalent education.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Trondheim: Norsk senter for barneforskning (NOSEB) , 2013. Vol. 31, no 4, 89-103 p.
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-84638OAI: diva2:686761
Tema: Hjem-skole-partnerskap i et nordisk perspektiv
Available from: 2014-01-13 Created: 2014-01-13 Last updated: 2016-05-19Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Den subtila ojämlikheten: Om grundskolors materiella förutsättningar och elevers utbildningsmöjligheter
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Den subtila ojämlikheten: Om grundskolors materiella förutsättningar och elevers utbildningsmöjligheter
2016 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis is to examine compulsory schools' material conditions in relation to students' learning opportunities and schools staffs’ opportunities to educate. The thesis consists of four published peer-reviewed articles. The empirical data was collected through extensive fieldwork during 2010-2011 in three Swedish schools (ages 14-15), characterized by different social demographics. The material is primarily classroom observations, semi-structured interviews and policy documents. Analysis in the thesis draws mainly on Pierre Bourdieu’s theoretical framework, but also on contemporary developments institutional habitus by Diane Reay and positional capital by Jacques Lévy. Also, materiality as an educational concept is used to reflect and discuss schools’ prerequisites as institutions of education. The first article investigates how school practice emerges for pupils and the importance it has on their perceptions of their own lives in the school, it also considers and discusses the utility of the theoretical tool school habitus. The study was furthermore a critical examination of the reproductive and/or social levelling effects that school practice could have on pupils. The second article explores and compares the schools' access to ICT and classroom teaching. The third article examines the role of the family and its importance for school staff and pupils in the daily operations of the school. In addition, it scrutinizes how socioeconomic conditions affect the middle- and working-class schools' abilities to navigate in relation to families. The fourth article examines material conditions in all three schools with a focus on pupils and school staffs’ perceptions and actions in school practices, and how materiality shapes schools' institutional habitus. The analysis displays that schools’ materiality has major significance for the forms of institutional habitus and which ideals and values about education are developed in the different schools. It also displays that schools’ material conditions are closely interwoven with pupils’ educational backgrounds and the socioeconomic structure of the local neighbourhood. Schools’ material preconditions affect the pedagogical work of the teachers in classrooms and principals’ acting space to follow and implement the schools’ missions according to steering documents. Viewed as preworld, the local area and resources in the schools shape pupils’ sense of worthiness and thus their visions of a possible future in regard to educational and- workinglife carriers. The thesis discusses and concludes that the title The Subtle Inequality illustrate a process where phenomenon such as school choice, teacher shortage or schools’ abilities to compete are taken for granted. They are seen as “natural” and given, thus they hide the existing, objective material preconditions as the sources that shape differences in the educational system. To overcome these differences, the thesis reflects on the need to give all schools in Sweden equal material starting points.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2016. 92 p.
Akademiska avhandlingar vid Pedagogiska institutionen, Umeå universitet, ISSN 0281-6768 ; 117
institutional habitus, materiality, pedagogy, compulsory school, social class, institutionell habitus, materialitet, pedagogik, grundskola, social klass
National Category
Research subject
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-120226 (URN)978-91-7601-450-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-06-10, Humanisthuset, Hörsal E, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2016-05-20 Created: 2016-05-12 Last updated: 2016-05-26Bibliographically approved

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