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 30: Beyond schools: the social embeddedness of educational inequality

Camilla Borgna, Christian Brzinsky-Fay, Martina Dieckhoff, Anne Christine Holtmann and Heike Solga


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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