1
2012 LLAKES Conference: Lifelong Learning, Crisis and Social Change
18-19 October 2012
Natasha Kersh
Institute of Education
University of London, UK
Presentation based on
Perceptions of Inequalities report
Natasha Kersh, Christine Han, and Stefan Mueller-Mathis
Findings from qualitative data analysis of semi-structured interviews
carried out in
England;
Denmark;
France;
Singapore;
Germany.
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» Phenomenographic data analysis
» Enables to categorise data into categories of
descriptions;
» Investigates the perceptions of a
phenomenon by individuals;
» Enables to identify dimensions of variations
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Categories
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Education
Ability
Class/social class
Ethnicity, race, culture, nationality and language
Family
Gender
Motivation
Perceptions of fairness at school
Perceptions of the national education system
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Nancy Fraser (2004; 2010) research:
recognition, redistribution and/or representation
Recognition
Instances when students talk about the cultural or social differences
and disadvantages that one group or groups can have, or that they see
others having compared with their own group.
Distribution or redistribution
Instances when students talk about the distribution of goods.
Representation
Instances when students talk about politics or society.
Texts that we can use to reconstruct whether they feel politically
included as social agents, or in the social position in a kind of ‘societal
periphery’ or as ‘disaggregated citizen’
5
Categories
of
descriptions
Dimensions of variations
(factors affecting perceptions of inequalities)
Green - Generally similar views across the countries/within countries
Blue -
Variations/differences (e.g. views specific to particular countries)
England
Education
Tutors’
treatment
Lack of support
from the
teacher
Style of
teaching and
classroom
environment
Denmark
Teachers’
treatment of
students
Dialogue
between the
teachers and
the students.
France
Teacher–student
relationships
Relationships among
students
Teaching methods,
styles
School environment
Importance of
education for
everyday life
Importance of
education for
promoting values in
society
Germany
Classroom environment
Oral participation in class
Style of teaching
Differences between
different types of schools,
such as comprehensive and
grammar
Singapore
The role of teachers
Relationships with other
students
Purpose of education and
quality of education
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»
» A Well yes, it’s important to teach values.
You can’t force individuals to choose to
keep them, but the school has the
obligation to transmit the youth certain
French and cultural values. It’s an
obligation, this is its role, but …some
individuals choose not to accept them, we
can’t do anything for them (France).
7
» I had loads of trouble when I was younger […]
people like....teachers always used to have a go at
me and tell me off for my behaviour or my attitude
and stuff…But no-one ever bothered to help me. So
I think when I was younger I used to be really
depressed as well but teachers never bothered to
think “can I help you”. (Extract from an interview
with vocational education student, England).
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Categorie
s of
descripti
ons
Dimensions of variations
(factors affecting perceptions of inequalities)
Generally similar views across the countries/within countries
Variations/differences (e.g. views specific to particular countries)
England
Ability
Streaming
Being placed
unfairly into a
lower ability
group, e.g. in
English or Math
Being given
unfair grades
Tutors paying
more attention
to more able
students
Denmark
France
Streaming
Ability
Being given
(Being given unfair
unfair grades grades)
Tutors paying
more
attention to
more able
students
Germany
Different types of
school (grammar and
comprehensive) that
have to do with issues
of streaming/ability
Singapore
Ability
Tutors paying more
attention and/or respect
to more able students
Ability – motivation to
work harder
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» I was moved down to set 2 in like Year 9 when
they said that I wasn’t doing as well – when I
was – I was completing all the exercises and
everything else, and then I started having time
off because I couldn’t face it. And it’s like I feel
like in schools they do concentrate more on
good pupils and people who they think is going
to do well [ Extract from an interview with
vocational education student, England].
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» A It was like… she (French teacher) gave me
really poor grades even if I had done the same
work as everyone else. And I failed to
understand that. In the beginning I was pretty
active – and good at it, I think. But then,
because I was discriminated I stopped to care. I
began skipping classes and stuff like that.
[Extract from interview with male student,
Robert, Denmark]
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» A: Yeah the school management is fair ah, but
sometime the teacher are not fair la. Because
they like» Q: How are they not fair?
» A: They like er.. teaching only for the one who..
who clever than the not clever one ah.
» Q: So what do they do to the cleverer ones?
» A: They guide them along and then the not
clever one they just don’t care about them
(Singapore).
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Categori
es of
descripti
ons
Dimensions of variations
(factors affecting perceptions of inequalities)
Generally similar views across the countries/within countries
Variations/differences (e.g. views specific to particular countries)
England
Gender
Class/social
class
Denmark
France
Unfair
treatment of
women ‘in a
man’s world’
] Unfair
Unfair
treatment
(genderrelated),
Unfair treatment
(gender-related),
e.g. girls are
punished less than
boys
Gender inequality is possible
Less privileged
backgrounds
Social class
has not been
cited as a
significant
element that
contributes
to feelings of
unfairness
and
inequality
Social
background and
financial
situation
Financial situations
of families
Social background
Social
background
Financial
situation
Gap between
rich and poor
treatment
(genderrelated), e.g.
girls are
punished less
than boys
The gap
between rich
and poor
Germany
Singapore
Gap between rich and poor
Social responsibility
of families and
individuals
Difference in opportunities
Gap between rich and poor
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»
According to the interview data, the students feel that their
social background and financial situation may enhance or
undermine their educational and life chances:
»
» Q Do you think your social background affects it as well, like
whether you come from a poor family or a rich family?
»
» A Obviously rich families probably have more priority, seeing
your background. Like if it was to go into a good university
they will see.....maybe if....this isn’t to do with poor, rich, but
if they see I’m from [less privileged school] and someone else
is from [more privileged school]. [Extract from an interview
with sixth form student, England].
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Categori
es of
descripti
ons
Dimensions of variations
(factors affecting perceptions of inequalities)
Generally similar views across the countries/within countries
Variations/differences (e.g. views specific to particular countries)
England
Ethnicity, race,
culture,
nationality and
language/
Immigration
Equality could
be affected if
one nationality
or race is given
preferential
treatment over
another
Resentment
towards
immigrants in
general
Tolerance
needs to be
promoted
More
meaningful
strategies are
needed
Denmark
Equality
could be
affected if
one
nationality or
race is given
preferential
treatment
over another
Judging
others
(ethnicity)
Classroom is
perceived to
a large
extent as
homogenous
France
Equality could
be affected if
one nationality
or race is given
preferential
treatment over
another
Marginalisation
and
discrimination
on the basis of
ethnic origin
Germany
Equality could be
affected if one
nationality or race is
given preferential
treatment over
another
Singapore
Equality could be affected if
one nationality or race is
given preferential treatment
over another
Ethnicity and
language problems
Resentment towards
immigrants in
general
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» But I do believe that there are too many immigrants in the country and
they should be sent home. Although they might get a better life here but
they’re sort of ruining it for some of us because there’s not as many jobs
going about and things like that, especially at the time now where like we
ain’t got no money and things like that, and everyone’s getting sacked
from their jobs and stuff. And I don’t think it’s fair that they can just come
over here and get like a car, a house and things like that when there’s
people on the council that’s been on there for years and they can’t even
get a place. (England)
Foreigners are often thought of as scapegoats for many problems in society:
»
» For […] the fault of the unemployment rate, they blame it on foreigners.
That they complain about, and then for instance, they go [to a city] and
see a Turk in a big car, but he has only got an old Mercedes and a
ramshackle hut, but isn’t doing anything. And then he’s looking for a
scapegoat and therefore he chooses the foreigner. Very much like a cliché.
» (Germany)
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Pia, whose first language is not Danish, felt that her background made her perceive
herself as different from the rest of her classmates. Not being able to speak fluent
Danish, she believed, affected her performance in class and made her stand out:
»
» […]when I have made verbal mistakes the other students have been
able to pick it up right away – and then they laughed. That has not
always been easy. I remember when I started in high school that I
had to rephrase – I was not really able to form sentences. It came
out odd and then I started laughing. I always smiled afterwards
because I was embarrassed because I could hear it was wrong what
I had just said. And then they laughed because I was laughing. And
it was just my reaction when I get shy – I laugh. I have a reflex. And
then I would get really sad. Because I was not joking – we were
talking about poor children or people who suffers. And I said they
had to quit it. And they would say “well it is not the first time – you
laughed yourself.” And I would say that I could not help it.” And
now they do not do it anymore. As if they respect me more now
(Denmark)
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Q Do you think teacher have racist behaviors? That is, do they give preference to some
students over others?
A to tell you the truth, almost all of us have African origins and I think that teachers are
sometimes out of line in what they say. I’m bothered by it all the time and it’s not only
one or two professors, it’s, voilà.
Q Many of them?
A Yes.
Q Is it something occasional?
A Yes, but it’s repetitive. So I used to think, no, it happens once or twice, but it’s been
three years and I’m still waiting for it to be only occasional, voilà.
Q So there are still professors with behaviours…
A Yes, for example with our names, sometimes, pff.
Q They can’t pronounce them?
A Voilà.
Q Do they even try?
A Yes, well some of them do, some don’t. (France)
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Perceiving themselves as different because of their ethnic
origin make the students feel that they have to double
their efforts in life as they are not treated fairly compared
with ‘white-skinned’ people:
»
» Q You mentioned that you would like to go to the
university to succeed in life. What do you expect from
your education? Success in life?
»
» A Yes, and I like it. Education is mandatory until age
16, then you have many, many, many options. If a
person wants to be successful, he can, he just has to try.
Sometimes you hear ‘we’re dark-skinned, it’s harder’
(on a une tête basanée, c’est plus difficile) but no, you
just have to double your efforts, that’s all (France)
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a grammar school student, notes
» A Secondary modern and comprehensive schools [Realschule] [are similar],
but at secondary modern schools there still are more foreigners, Turks and
Russians and where they all come from […] and most of them look a bit run
down. Well that is kind of a cliché. And with the grammar schools, for
example, in our year there is maybe one Turk or two. There is one in my
class that is a bit darker. But she was born here, so there are basically no
migrants in the upper track of grammar schools. The social selection has
gone into effect
» …it shows that there are no equal opportunities, well just because they are
darker it doesn’t mean they have less sense. So what is it down to, that
they can’t make upper track? I just don’t understand it.
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A
In Singapore I think it’s really quite fair. But there
are a few people who differentiate we are Chinese, Malay.
When people see Malay they will usually think the person
is a slacker.
» Q What will you do when you hear such things?
» A I will just say stop being racist. And if it’s happen to
my own friend I will take action. If it’s not I won’t be
bother.
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Motivation
Self-motivation
(more
opportunities to
those students
who are selfmotivated
towards their
studies, over
the learners
who tend to rely
on the teacher’s
support)
Unfair
treatment at
school can
substantially
undermine
learners’
motivation
Unfair
treatment at
school can
substantially
undermine
learners’
motivation
Unfair
treatment at
school can
substantially
undermine
learners’
motivation
Motivation
Careers
contributes
to confidence
and learning
outcomes,
further
learning and
professional
development
Motivation helps to
achieve and to
develop confidence
and self-assurance
Future careers and
expected learning
outcomes
Motivation to achieve in life
Positive attitudes to learning
‘Good results in school’;
‘good job’; ‘good lifestyle’
Goals and expectations
relate to working hard and
taking full advantage of
current opportunities
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Perceptions of
fairness at school
Being treated
unfairly or
excluded on
account of being
labelled as
‘different’ in one
way or another
Mentions of
tutors favouring
students with
‘better
behaviour’, and
not providing
enough support
for students with
more disruptive
behaviour
Being treated
unfairly or
excluded on
account of
being labelled
as ‘different’ in
one way or
another
Tutors favouring
some students
over others for
various reasons
Being treated unfairly
or excluded on account
of being labelled as
‘different’ in one way
or another
Being treated differently
and/or unfairly on account of
their grades or performance at
school
Tutors favouring
students with
better behaviour
and better
grades, and not
providing enough
support for less
able students
Tutors favouring
students on the
basis of their
ethnic origin
(nationality,
language, etc.)
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Perceptions of
the national
education
system
The education
system is fair in
the sense that it’s
free and
accessible to all
The education
system is fair in
the sense that
it’s free and
accessible to all
The education
system is fair in the
sense that it’s free
and accessible to all
The education
The education
The education system is unfair
system is unfair, system is
because there are
because some
unfair, because some ‘hidden’
schools are better some learners elements of
than others (so
get unfair
inequality (such as
learners do not
treatment at
discriminating
have equal
individual
against students
opportunities)
schools in the
because of their
context of
ethnic origin;
The education
individual
discriminating
system is unfair, situations
against students
because some
because of previous
learners are
poor academic
favoured over
record)
others
The system is not
fair because it
provides more
opportunities for
students from ‘elite
classes’ (classes for
more able students)
The education system
is fair in the sense that
it’s free and accessible
to all
The education system
is unfair because
different young
people may get
different treatment
because of their
background (e.g.
ethnic or national)
The education system
is effective because
it’s based on merit
and can cater to
people with different
talents
The education system
could contribute to
unfair treatment or
inequalities, because
some learners are
favoured (or treated
better) over others
(e.g. on the basis of
ethnicity, ability,
gender)
24
Perceptions of inequalities
» recognition (e.g. in the society or community)
» representation(e.g. political involvement) and
» fairness of redistribution (of goods or funds in
the society).
25
The data have indicated that the issue of
recognition of different ethnic, national and
cultural groups have come out as a major
common theme across the five countries.
Variations included elements associated with a
range of specific instances when the young people
felt that they (or their achievements) have not
been fully recognised.
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(1) those who have no interest in politics and/or trust in politicians
and have no intention of being involved in the political life of their
colleges, or in society in general; and
(2) those who have developed some interest in political life and would
like to get involved in order to change things.
Variations from specific countries are associated with their views and
perspectives of (1) why they do not develop their interest in the
political life of the country or (2) what way they feel they can
contribute to political developments in their countries, communities
or schools
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» tuition fees for further/higher education and the extent to which
this may foster social injustice.
» The gap between rich and poor has also been cited as a factor
facilitating unequal chances for young people.
» Variations included citing instances or perceptions of unfair
distribution of goods/funds in particular contexts (e.g. English
interviews have referred to the issue of provision of financial
support for immigrants living on benefits while more benefits
should be given to local people).
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Categories of
descriptions
Dimensions of variations
(factors affecting perceptions of inequalities)
Fraser’s
dimensions
Recognition
England
Denmark
Gender
Disposition
Behaviour
Ability
Social
class/background
Nationality/race/
ethnic origins
Language
Ability
Social
class/background
Nationality/race/e
thnic origin,
language
Fairness at school
Motivation
Occupation/profe
ssional
choice/vocational
route
France
Gender
Disposition
Behaviour
Ability
Social
class/background
Nationality/race/e
thnic origins
Language
Germany
Singapore
Nationality/race/et
hnic origins
Status
Dispositions
Social
class/background
Language
Ability/Streaming
(grammar vs
comprehensive
school education)
Gender
Ability
Social
class/background
Nationality/race/et
hnic origins
Language
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Categories of descriptions
Dimensions of variations
Fraser’s dimensions
(factors affecting perceptions of inequalities)
England
Representation
Categorisation of views:
1)Those who have no
interest in politics and/or
trust in politicians and have
no intention of being
involved in political life in
their colleges, or in society
in general;
2)Those who have
developed some interest in
political life and would like
to get involved in order to
change things.
Education is not perceived
as playing a major role in
shaping students’ political
views or facilitating their
interest in politics
Low trust in politicians
affects their motivation to
take a part in the political
life of the country, including
voting.
For those who have an
interest in political
development the major
incentive for being involved
has to do with making sure
the voice of the students is
heard, trying to contribute
to changing things for the
better and defending their
political views
Denmark
Lack of interest in
participating in elections;
Lack of knowledge about
political parties’
programmes;
France
Students’ interest in political
affairs has been facilitated by
(1) family; (2) education; and
(3) students’ own motivations
to represent themselves. Such
a representation could be
achieved by:
Distrust of promises made by
political parties;
1.
2.
Lack of interest in students’
representation bodies in the
colleges (such as students’
3.
councils).
Students’ own perceptions of
how they could contribute to
society, specifically
promoting values, democracy
and equality (e.g. through
participating in
demonstrations or protests).
Voting;
Participation in
students’
organisations;
Participation in
political movements
(becoming a member
of a political party).
Education is perceived as
playing a significant role in
shaping students’ political
views or facilitating their
interest in politics
Germany
Interest/lack of interest in
political affairs and
participation in students’
organisations, such as
students’ councils.
Singapore
Categorisation of views:
Those who have no interest in
politics and/or trust in
politicians and have no
intention of being involved in
Lack of interest in the country’s political life in their colleges,
political life has been related to or in society in general;
feelings of dislike towards
politics.
Those who are developing
some interest in political life
Participation through engaging and would like to get involved
in activities related to their
in order to contribute to
own interests or hobbies.
society, e.g. through
Dissatisfaction with what
participating in community
politicians do
service or students
associations.
students do not develop
interest in political life
because their do not have
enough information about
potential political involvement
or activities, for example, at
their schools’ level.
30
Categories of
descriptions
Dimensions of variations
(factors affecting perceptions of inequalities)
Fraser’s dimensions
England
Redistribution
Paying for education,
receiving financial
support from the
government or
employers, being
able to afford to pay
for education or
acquire essential
equipment (such as
books).
Financial situations,
especially as far as it
concerned students
from poorer
backgrounds, has
been perceived as
one of the obstacles
that prevents them
from going to
university
Financial support for
those living on
benefits (more
benefits should be
given to local people)
Denmark
Paying for education,
receiving financial
support from the
government or
employers, being able
to afford to pay for
education or acquire
essentials equipment
France
Fairness of distribution
of finance/financial
privileges in society. It
has concerned such
categories as social
class, education and
family.
gap between rich and
poor has been
emphasised in this
context.
financial situation has
an impact on access to
privileged education
(sending children to
privileged fee-paying
schools)
Germany
Singapore
Different social and
paying for education,
financial status leads to receiving financial
unequal chances in life support from the
government, being able
Fairness of distribution to afford to pay for
of finance/financial
education or acquire
privileges in society. It essential equipment
has concerned such
(such as books). In this
categories as social
respect, the financial
class, education and
situation of parents
family.
who assume
responsibility for
paying school fees was
recognised as an
important dimension.
Financial situation,
especially as far as it
concerned students
from poorer
backgrounds, has been
perceived as one of the
obstacles that may
prevent students from
going to university.
31
» Summary of findings:
» Perceptions of inequalities are contextually
specific
» Perceptions of inequalities could be related to
recognition, redistribution and representation
» Inequalities could be addressed through
recognition, redistribution and representation
32
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