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Lecture et télévision : Les transformations du rôle culturel de l’école à l’épreuve de la massification scolaire

Abstract : What are the cultural effects of generalized access to high school, which became effective in France in the 1980s and 1990s ? Data on reading and television watching suggest that reading is in decline, with readers concentrated among high school and higher education graduates, and that the place of television in the lives of generations who attended school in the 1980s and 1990s is stronger than in earlier generations. These two developments result from a complex combining of the « net » effect with the structural effect of mass education. Mass education slowed the decline of reading and mitigated the increase in television watching : the proportional weight in the French population of high school and higher education graduates – i.e., those categories most likely to read and least « telephagic » – has grown at the same time as quantitative levels for both reading and television watching among the highest educated have gradually, over the generations, come to resemble the quantitative reading and television watching levels of the least educated. This dual development may be interpreted in two ways that are not necessarily mutually exclusive : 1) both the decline of reading and the increase in television watching reflect a negative change in the cultural function of schooling [l’École], a change in turn resulting from a transformation of teaching methods and education content relayed by the sharply increased influence of the mass media. But 2) these changes also reflect morphological changes in the world of high school and higher education students : with the generalizing of access to the baccalauréat [French high school leaving degree], the proportion of « heirs » has considerably fallen. The changes can therefore be read convincingly both as a sign that the school in France has lost a degree of its cultural authority and that cultural gaps have narrowed within the generations implicated in the massification of education.
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Philippe Coulangeon. Lecture et télévision : Les transformations du rôle culturel de l’école à l’épreuve de la massification scolaire. Revue française de sociologie, Presse de Sciences Po / Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 2007, 48 (4), pp.657 - 691. ⟨hal-01719435v2⟩

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