The Sociology of Elite Education

Abstract : Research on elites (that is, on status groups that occupy dominant positions) is characterized by the lack of connection between studies that focus on elite recruitment and those that focus on the exercise of power by elites. As underlined by Giddens (1974), both types of approach are important and should complement each other in the analysis of mediations between the class structure, the organizational structure and the power structure in a given society. Giddens also insists on the need for recruitment studies to take account of two different dimensions: the types of channel that are privileged by elite groups to reproduce their social position, and the degree of social closure or openness of these channels to other groups (Parkin, 1974). This distinction is used to organize the present chapter, which focuses on a single channel that has come to play a crucial role in post-industrial societies, that is schools and, more precisely, uppersecondary and higher education institutions, and on their influence in three different national contexts: France, the United Kingdom and the United States. In the first section, the specific features of elite education are examined. The second section explores the extent and modes of institutional and social closure.
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Agnès van Zanten. The Sociology of Elite Education. Apple Michael W, Ball Stephen J, Gandin Luis Armando. The Routledge International Handbook of the Sociology of Education, Routledge, pp.329-339, 2009. ⟨hal-00972726⟩

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