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Education and Social Stratification Processes in Comparative Perspective

Alan C. Kerckhoff
Sociology of Education
Vol. 74, Extra Issue: Current of Thought: Sociology of Education at the Dawn of the 21st Century (2001), pp. 3-18
DOI: 10.2307/2673250
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2673250
Page Count: 16
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Education and Social Stratification Processes in Comparative Perspective
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Abstract

This article describes three characteristics of educational systems that have been used to explain social stratification processes: stratification, standardization, and vocational specificity. These characteristics have been viewed as the basis for educational systems' varied "capacity to structure" students' entry into the labor force. Another important characteristic that has received less systematic attention is also suggested: student choice. The ways in which these characteristics affect the movement of students through school and into the labor force are described for France, Germany, Great Britain, and the United States. The discussion emphasizes the need to examine the trajectories that young people follow during a full "transition period," rather than a single move from school to work. The author suggests that more information is needed about the ways in which both formal institutional structures and informal social processes generate regularities in the trajectories followed during the transition period.

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