Research Handbook on the Sociology of Education
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Research Handbook on the Sociology of Education

Edited by Rolf Becker

Presenting original contributions from the key experts in the field, the Research Handbook on the Sociology of Education explores the major theoretical, methodological, empirical and political challenges and pressing social questions facing education in current times.
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Chapter 19: The social structure of schools and classrooms

Dominik Becker


The chapter at hand provides a sociological account of the analysis of schools and classrooms and their effects on selected educational outcomes. I draw on the social production function approach to unveil the idealized educational motives of students, their parents and their teachers. This allows me to present a theory-based synthesis of the state of the art in conceptually adjacent, but empirically surprisingly unrelated areas of research. A review of previous empirical research supports the theoretical argument that both school and classroom context may frame educational actors’ goal–mean relations, while framing effects might be heterogeneous for individuals with different psycho-social dispositions. I conclude with several suggestions for future analyses of educational contexts, their interrelation to one another, and their interaction with individual characteristics. In particular, a stronger interdisciplinary approach to the analysis of educational contexts is encouraged.

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