Research on educational inequality predominantly focuses on schools and families. Such a constrained perspective is not only found in research but is also inherent in educational policy. In this chapter we seek to direct attention to the social contexts in which schools and families are located and the context-specific challenges they face. In particular, we argue that inequality in educational attainment and achievement is more adequately understood and effectively targeted with such a broader perspective. By reviewing research which focuses on this social embeddedness of educational inequality, we illustrate why it is important to consider societal factors such as, for example, poverty, economic inequality and health inequality, when investigating educational inequality. We conclude by outlining a number of research gaps to be addressed by future work.
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