Work and Lifelong Learning Resource Base

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Work and Lifelong Learning Resource Base

Materials for Teaching, Research and Policy Making

Principal Investigator: David W. Livingstone
Team Members:
M. Raykov, K. Pollock, F. Antonelli

CHAPTER 4: Work and Learning [PDF]


4.6. Power Relations and Social Inequality in
       Work and

1. Ahmed, Z. N. (2000). Mapping rural women's perspectives on nonformal education experiences. APS conceptual mapping project research report. Occasional paper series. Retrieved July, 2006, from


            This study explores how rural women in the village of Srefultoli, Bangladesh describe, from their own point of view, their experiences with nonformal education (NFE). Feminist research has revealed that existing NFE programs in developing countries give women traditional knowledge of family planning, nutrition, and health care, but they do not deal with the need to increase women's understanding of their oppression and exploitation. This study examines whether current NFE programs in this village in Bangladesh give women new knowledge about their present situation in society and in the family and whether these women are aware of their strategic and practical needs.


            KEY WORDS: Developing Nations; Educational Research; Empowerment; Foreign Countries; Nonformal Education; Perspective Taking; Research Methodology; Rural Women; Social Science Research; Social Mapping.


2. Anyon, J. (2005). Radical possibilities. New York: Routledge.


            This book reveals the influence of federal and metropolitan policies and practices on the poverty that plagues schools and communities in American cities and segregated, low-income suburbs. Public policies - such as those regulating the minimum wage, job availability, tax rates, federal transit, and affordable housing - all create conditions in urban areas that no education policy as currently conceived can transcend. In this first book since her best-selling Ghetto Schooling, the author argues that we must replace these federal and metro-area policies with more equitable ones, so that urban school reform can have positive life consequences for students. The author provides a much-needed new paradigm for understanding and combating educational injustice. Radical Possibilities reminds us that historically, equitable public policies have typically been created as a result of the political pressure brought to bear by social movements. Basing her analysis on new research in civil rights history and social movement theory, Anyon skillfully explains how the current moment offers serious possibilities for the creation of such a force. The book powerfully describes five social movements already under way in U.S. cities, and offers readers interested in building this new social movement a set of practical and theoretical insights into securing economic and educational justice for the many millions of America's poor families and students.


            KEY WORDS: Poverty; United States; Public Policy; Social Movements.


3. Apple, M. (2001). Comparing neo-liberal projects and inequality in education. Comparative Education, 37(4), 409-423.


            Neoliberalism claims that privatization, marketization, uniform standards, and accountability - some important dynamics surrounding globalization in education - increase choices and quality in education. However, numerous studies show that the market has consistently devalued alternatives; increased the power of dominant models; and exacerbated racial, gender, and class differences in access and outcome. Context-specific effects are emphasized.


            KEY WORDS: Accountability; Comparative Education; Educational Change; Educational Discrimination; Educational Philosophy; Equal Education; Free Enterprise System; Middle Class Standards; National Standards; Politics of Education; Power Structure; Privatization; Role of Education; School Choice; Social Bias; Work and Learning.


4. Apple, M. (2002). Does education have independent power? Bernstein and the question of relative autonomy. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 23(4), 607-616.


            This paper focuses on the ways Basil Bernstein's positions can help understand questions of the autonomy of schools and of the “class belongingness” of its cultural dynamics. The article demonstrates how differences of various social fields of power & of the complex ways in which class relations work within them enabling a considerably more subtle perspective on “who controls what” & on what that “what” actually is. An example of the pedagogic device in one specific nation is used to demonstrate how we can employ it to more rigorously focus our attention on the possible effects education itself has.


            KEY WORDS: Class Relations; Power; Sociological Theory; Educational Systems; Social Reproduction; Work and Learning.


5. Ball, S. J., Davies, J., David, M., & Reay, D. (2002). "Classification" and "judgment": Social class and the "cognitive structures" of choice of higher education. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 23(1), 51-72.


            The issue of social class-related patterns of access to higher education (HE) has become a matter of public debate in the UK recently, but is on the whole portrayed one-sidedly in terms of issues of selection (elitism) and the social dimensions of choice are neglected. Drawing on an Economic and Social Research Council research study, examines choice of HE using Bourdieu's concepts of “classification” and ”judgment”. HE is viewed in terms of its internal status differentiations. Students' positive and negative choices are addressed using qualitative and quantitative data, and the “accuracy” of status perceptions is also tested. Argues that choices are infused with class and ethnic meanings and that choice-making plays a crucial role in the reproduction of divisions and hierarchies in HE, but also that the very idea of choice assumes a kind of formal equality that obscures “the effects of real inequality”. HE choices are embedded in different kinds of biographies and institutional habituses, and different “opportunity structures”.


            KEY WORDS: Higher Education; Access; Inequalities; Social Class; UK; Social Change; Change.


6. Ball, S. (2003). Class strategies and the education market. London; New York: Routledge Falmer.


Class Strategies and the Education Market looks at the ways the middle classes maintain and improve their social advantages in and through education. Working with an extensive series of interviews with parents and children, this book identifies key moments of decision making in the construction of the educational trajectories of middle class children. The author organises his analysis around the key concepts of social closure, social capital, values and principles and risk, while bringing a broad range of up-to-date sociological theory to bear upon his subject. From this thorough analysis, valuable and thought-provoking insights emerge into the diligent care and considerable effort and expenditure which goes into ensuring the educational success of the middle class child. This book provides a set of working tools for class analysis and the examination of class practices. Above all, Class Strategies and the Education Market offers new ways of thinking about class theory and the relationships between classes in late modern society.


KEY WORDS: Middle Class; Education; Social Aspects; Educational Sociology; Educational Equalization; Work and Learning.


7. Balser, D. B., & Stern, R. N. (1999). Resistance and cooperation: A response to conflict over job performance. Human Relations, 52(8), 1029-1053.


            Research literature on job performance from both management-oriented and industrial relations/sociology of work models is synthesized to produce a more comprehensive understanding of how supervisors manage employee performance problems. Two assumptions are derived from the synthesis: (1) employees are active in accepting and resisting definitions of performance issues made by supervisors; (2) informal interactions regarding the interpretation of performance issues are pivotal in understanding how performance problems are resolved. This study of university library supervisors focuses on the informal exchanges and characterizes them as negotiations over the definition of job performance. Results are reported from a qualitative study of supervisors' interactions with employees identified as having performance problems. Three types of interactions in informal negotiations were found among 15 supervisor-employee dyads. The supervisors' interpretations of their interactions with employees are labeled as conformist, confrontational, or rebellious, designating how supervisors enact their role as agents of the organization.


            KEY WORDS: Conflict; Cooperation; Job Performance; Resistance; Supervisor Employee Interaction; Librarians; Changes in Paid Work.


8. Behar, M. C. (2000). Women weaving webs: Will women rule the Internet? Houston, TX: CBM Press.


            This book is a resource for women who want a role in shaping this new technology, as well as for those who want to use the Internet to reach women. Although the Internet is still male-dominated, communication in cyberspace is particularly suited to a woman's way of acting using cooperation, collaboration, sharing and constant communication. The author addresses how women are using the Internet today, and how they can take charge of the "virtual global village". It includes stories of women around the world from Silicon Valley to Eastern Europe, from urban Japan to rural Australia who are discovering the power of the Internet and helping to shape its future.


            KEY WORDS: Work and Learning; Women.


9. Bierema, L. (2001). Women, work, and learning. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 92(Winter), 53-63.


            Women are disadvantaged when it comes to opportunity and learning. Adult educators can take steps to begin changing women's secondary status in the workplace.


            KEY WORDS: Women; Adult Education; Workplace; Inequity.


10. Black, D. H., Amelia; Sanders, Seth; Taylor, Lowell. (2006). Why do minority men earn less? A study of wage differential among the highly educated. The Review of Economics and Statistics [Cambridge], 88(2), 300-313.


            Wage gaps using nonparametric matching methods and detailed measures of field of study are estimated for university graduates. Found was a modest portion of the wage gap that is the consequence of measurement error in the Census education measure. Hispanic and Asian men, the remaining gap is attributable to premarket factors - primarily differences in formal education and English language proficiency. Black men, only about one-quarter of the wage gap is explained by these same factors. A subsample of black men born outside the South, these factors do not account for the entire wage gap.


            KEY WORDS: Studies; Wage Differential; Education; Regression Analysis; Minority; Ethnic Groups; Labor market.


11. Bowl, M. (2001). Experiencing the barriers: Non-traditional students entering higher education. Research Papers in Education: Policy and Practice, 16(2), 141-160.


            Examined the educational experiences of nontraditional, ethnic minority, women students in the United Kingdom who were involved in a community-based, flexible access to higher education project in the inner city, highlighting financial and institutional barriers they experienced. Students were frustrated participants in an unresponsive institutional context, struggling against poverty, lack of time, tutor indifference, and institutional marginalization.


            KEY WORDS: Access to Education; Adult Students; College Students; Females; Foreign Countries; Higher Education; Inner City; Minority Groups; Nontraditional Students; Poverty; Time Factors (Learning); Barriers to Participation; United Kingdom.


12. Breen, R., & Goldthorpe, J. H. (2001). Class, mobility and merit: The experience of two British birth cohorts. European Sociological Review, 17(2), 81-119.


            The controversial issue of “meritocracy'”can be most productively addressed if it is treated as one of direction of change over time: i.e. whether individual merit, understood in terms of ability, effort, or educational attainment, is growing in importance in processes of social selection. To test the thesis of “increasing merit selection”, the authors analyse data from two British cohort studies relating to children born in 1958 and 1970 respectively. They find that, from the later to the earlier cohort, the pattern of relative rates of class mobility changed little; and that individual merit, as they are able to measure it, did not play a greater part in mediating the association between class origins and destinations. In fact, the effects of ability and educational attainment on individuals' relative mobility chances diminished somewhat. These findings, the authors argue, are less surprising than they may at first appear if viewed in the context of the problematic relationship between the idea of meritocracy and the operation of a free-market economy.


            KEY WORDS: Class; Class Mobility.


13. Castells, M. (Ed.). (1999). Critical education in the new information age. Lanham: Rowan & Littlefield.


            This book in the Critical Perspectives Series (Macedo, general editor), a series dedicated to Freire, focuses on new developments in education capable of promoting social/political change. Leading educators critically address crucial issues in light of communications technologies, the information society, globalization, multiculturalism, ecology, feminism, the media, & individual liberty. Contributors are committed to a pedagogy of social justice in their search for new ideas to inform the practice of education & contribute to a more humane civil society. It is maintained that postmodern capitalism is facing a structural crisis that is mirrored in new educational inequalities exacerbated by new networks & identities that are products of the information society. Themes of postmodernism, commodity fetishism, politicized pedagogies, & the crippling impact of globalization on democracy are threaded through the essays. It is argued that the crisis in capitalism reflects a radical rupture with the past induced by globalization. Current discourses of postmodernism are examined in light of insights that emerge from the dialectical relationship between modernism & postmodernism.


            KEY WORDS: Critical Pedagogy; United States; Popular Education; Social Aspects; Work and Learning.


14. Davis, J. M., & Watson, N. (2001). Where are the children's experiences? Analysing social and cultural exclusion in 'special' and 'mainstream' schools. Disability & Society, 16(5), 671-687.


            In this article, we employ ethnographic data to show that disabled children encounter discriminatory notions of "normality" & "difference" in both "special" & "mainstream" schools, & that these experiences relate to the structural forces in schools & the everyday individual & cultural practices of adults & children. In contrast to much of the literature in the field, this article examines the daily life experiences of adults & disabled children from their own perspective. We bring to light disabled children's own criticisms of "special" & "mainstream" schools to illustrate the fluid nature of disabled children's lives within educational settings. We argue that schools will be prevented from becoming fully inclusive until adults who control schools recognize children's views of specific educational processes & until educational policymakers take on a more nuanced multilevel approach to inclusion.


            KEY WORDS: Handicapped; Children; Discrimination; Mainstreaming; Educational Inequality; Educational Policy; Adults; Policy Making; Learning Disabilities.


15. Diekman, A. B., & Murnen, S. K. (2004). Learning to be little women and little men: The inequitable gender equality of nonsexist children's literature. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 50(5-6), 373-385.


            The change in gender roles has been predominantly asymmetric: the roles of women have changed more than the roles of men. To investigate the reflection of such asymmetry in the popular culture, we examined how books recommended to teachers & parents as "nonsexist" differed from books categorized as "sexist." Multiple participants read a sample of elementary-level novels & rated the portrayals of various forms of sexism, including stereotypic personality, segregated work & family roles, status inequality, gender segregation, the traditional idealization of femininity, & unequal representation of the sexes. Although nonsexist books were more likely than sexist books to represent female characters who adopted male-stereotypic characteristics & roles, both types of books similarly portrayed female-stereotypic personality, domestic chores, & leisure activities. Such representations may contribute to the perpetuation of gender inequality, particularly if they are held up as examples of equality.


            KEY WORDS: Literature; Children; Sex Stereotypes; Socialization Agents; Sexism.


16. Downey, D. B., Broh, B. A., & von Hippel, P. T. (2004). Are schools the great equalizer? Cognitive inequality during the summer months and the school year. American Sociological Review, 69(5), 613-635.


            This paper examines how schooling affects inequality in cognitive skills. Reproductionist theory has argued that schooling plays an important role in reproducing & even exacerbating existing disparities. However, seasonal comparison research has shown that gaps in reading & math skills grow primarily during summer vacation, suggesting that non-school factors (eg, family & neighborhood) are the main source of inequality. Using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study - Kindergarten Cohort of 1998-99, this paper improves upon past seasonal estimates of school & non-school effects on cognitive skill gains. Like previous research, this study considers how socioeconomic & racial/ethnic gaps in skills change when school is in session vs when it is not. This study reaches beyond past research by examining the considerable inequality in learning that is not associated with socioeconomic status & race. This "unexplained" disparity is more than 90% of the total inequality in learning rates and is much smaller during school than during summer. The results from the analysis suggest that schools serve as important equalizers: nearly every gap grows faster during summer than during school.


            KEY WORDS: Schools; Cognitive Development; Socioeconomic Status; Skills; Seasonal Variations; Educational Inequality; Black White Differences.


17. Dunn, N. A. W., & Baker, S. B. (2002). Readiness to serve students with disabilities: A survey of elementary school counselors. Professional School Counseling, 5(4), 277-284.


            Surveys the actual and perceived role elementary school counselors in North Carolina have in working with students with disabilities. Data reveals that many school counselors acquired some formal education about students with disabilities prior to entering the profession, yet many have found the demands for them to possess expertise in this domain have exceeded their perceived level of knowledge.


            KEY WORDS: Counselor Attitudes; Counselor Role; Counselor Training; Disabilities; Elementary Education; School Counseling; School Counselors; Special Needs Students; Surveys.


18. Fenwick, T. (2004). What happens to the girls? Gender, work and learning in Canada's 'new economy'. Gender and Education, 16(2), 169-185.


            Policies hailing lifelong learning in the so-called New Economy promote equitable knowledge work & work-related learning opportunities for all. Gender is hardly mentioned in these discourses; some might assume gender is “resolved“ in a new economy emphasizing entrepreneurism, technology, knowledge creation, & continuous learning. However, a closer look reveals that gendered inequity persists both in access to & experience of these learning opportunities. Indeed, familiar issues of women, work, & learning are exacerbated in the changing contexts & designs of work comprising the so-called New Economy. This is argued in the frame of Canada's most recent policies on work & learning, drawing from contemporary Canadian studies & statistics to underline the point. Current provisions for girls' & women's vocational education in Canada are assessed in light of these issues, focusing on particular learning needs of girls & gendered issues they face in entering the labor market of the New Economy. To move beyond a critical analysis & outline a possible way forward, four directions for change are suggested: more gender-sensitive career education for girls; sponsored vocational education for women; management education in gendered issues arising in the changing economy; & critical vocational education in both schools & workplaces.


            KEY WORDS: Canada; Women's Education; Vocational Education; Education Work Relationship; Educational Policy; Educational Opportunities; Economic Change; Labor Market.


19. Ganding, L. A., & Apple, M. (2002). Can education challenge neoliberalism? The citizen school and the struggle for democracy in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Social Justice, 29(4), 26-40.


            Examines how negotiating local control of schooling can be an effective force of resistance against the market-economy paradigm of education, describing the policies of the popular administration in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Focuses on the Citizen School, "which provides quality education to impoverished people." Also examines proposals that are explicitly designed to radically change both the municipal schools and the relationship between communities, the state, and education.


            KEY WORDS: Citizenship Education; Democracy; Educational Change; Educational Policy; Elementary/ Secondary Education; Foreign Countries; Governance; Politics of Education; Poverty; Social Change; Work and Learning.


20. Gibson-Graham, J. K., Resnick, S., & Wolff, R. D. (2001). Toward a poststructuralist political economy. In J. K. Gibson-Graham, S. Resnick & R. D. Wolff (Eds.), Re/presenting class (pp. 1-22). Durham, NC: Duke University Press.


            This book is a collection of essays that develops a poststructuralist Marxian conception of class in order to theorize the complex contemporary economic terrain. Both building upon and reconsidering a tradition that Stephen Resnick and Richard Wolff—two of this volume's editors—began in the late 1980s with their groundbreaking work Knowledge and Class, contributors aim to correct previous research that has largely failed to place class as a central theme in economic analysis. Suggesting the possibility of a new politics of the economy, the collection as a whole focuses on the diversity and contingency of economic relations and processes. Investigating a wide range of cases, the essays illuminate, for instance, the organizational and cultural means by which unmeasured surpluses-labor that occurs outside the formal workplace, such as domestic work-are distributed and put to use. Editors Resnick and Wolff, along with J. K. Gibson-Graham, bring theoretical essays together with those that apply their vision to topics ranging from the Iranian Revolution to sharecropping in the Mississippi Delta to the struggle over the ownership of teaching materials at a liberal arts college. Rather than understanding class as an element of an overarching capitalist social structure, the contributors-from radical and cultural economists to social scientists-define class in terms of diverse and ongoing processes of producing, appropriating, and distributing surplus labor and view class identities as multiple, changing, and interacting with other aspects of identity in contingent and unpredictable ways.


            KEY WORDS: Poststructuralism; Class Analysis; Marxism; Political Economy.


21. Gouthro, P. A. (2002). Education for sale: At what cost? Lifelong learning and the marketplace. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 21(4), 334-346.


            Critical and feminist analyses illustrate how the marketplace has influenced lifelong learning discourses to emphasize competition and individualism. Justice, equity, and critical thinking are suppressed when the marketplace predominates in education.


            KEY WORDS: Competition; Critical Theory; Discourse Analysis; Economic Factors; Equal Education; Individualism; Lifelong Learning; Role of Education.


22. Green, A., Preston, J., & Sabates, R. (2003). Education, equality, and social cohesion: A distributional approach. Compare, 33(4), 453-470.


            This article distinguishes social capital from societal cohesion and argues that education acts in different ways for each. The article goes on to develop a distributional model showing the relationship between equality of educational outcomes and various measures of social cohesion. A discussion of theories explaining country trends and variations in educational inequality and social inheritance in education is also presented.


            KEY WORDS: Adult Literacy; Comparative Analysis; Comparative Education; Cultural Pluralism; Educational Policy; Equal Education; Foreign Countries; Global Approach; Learning Processes; Life Style; Secondary Education; Social Capital; Social Integration; Socialization.


23. Ground, I. E. (Ed.). (2000). Lifelong learning, equity and inclusion. Proceedings of the UACE Conference, March 29-31, 1999: Cambridge, UK: Universities Association for Continuing Education.


            This document contains 41 plenary papers, speeches, papers, abstracts, and workshop presentations from a conference on continuing education, lifelong learning, equity, and inclusion in further education (FE) and higher education (HE). Some papers contain substantial bibliographies.


            KEY WORDS: Access to Education; Adjustment (to Environment); Adult Learning; Articulation (Education); Case Studies; Change Agents; Community Education; Continuing Education; Corporate Education; Disabilities; Distance Education; Education Work Relationship; Educational Change; Educational Needs; Educational Policy; Educational Technology; Equal Education; Ethnic Groups; Experiential Learning; Foreign Countries; Inclusive Schools; Individual Development; Lifelong Learning; Mainstreaming; Minority Groups; Needs Assessment; Open Education; Parent School Relationship; Partnerships in Education; Postsecondary Education; Rural Education; School Business Relationship; Sex Differences; Social Integration; Staff Development; Student Educational Objectives; Technology Education.


24. Guthrie, J. W., & Springer, M. G. (2004). Returning to square one: From Plessy to Brown and back to Plessy. Peabody Journal of Education, 79(2), 5-32.


            This paper describes significant legal & policy system changes in America's 50-year crusade to curtail or eliminate racially segregated public school. In retrospection, a more forceful initial policy system stance regarding judicial enforcement may well have resulted in greater desegregation success. After 5 decades of judicial & operational compliance trial & error, American public schools presently appear almost as racially segregated as before the landmark case, Brown v. Board of Education. The modern-day cause of school segregation relates more with income & housing patterns than with explicit apartheid policies. Regardless of cause, however, even if something much closer to equal educational opportunity exists now than was true 50 years ago, there clearly is not anything close, nationally, to racial parity of educational achievement. Aware of the remaining achievement gap, this paper posits that it is time to reconsider past policies built almost exclusively around busing & achieving physical mixes of Black & White students. It is now time to rely on new strategies involving elevated expectations, explicit learning standards, notions of financial "adequacy," & effective accountability. In effect, it is time to measure racial policy progress by student success, not by transportation & school resource processes.


            KEY WORDS: Educational Inequality; Racial Segregation; Educational Policy; Judicial Decisions; School Desegregation; United States of America.



25. Hattery, A. J. (2003). Sleeping in the box, thinking outside the box: Student reflections on innovative pedagogical tools for teaching about and promoting a greater understanding of social class inequality among undergraduates. Teaching Sociology, 31(4), 412-427.


            Teaching about social stratification & social inequality is essential to any curriculum in sociology. Yet time and again students are not as excited about these courses as they are about others. In order to involve students in active learning, the author developed a course that used a variety of pedagogical strategies designed to provide experiential & service-learning situations to help students connect readings such as those by Marx, Olin Wright, & Davis & Moore with the situation of social class in contemporary US. Students were required to keep journals of their experiences to provide the data for this paper. Though there is considerable room for improvement, the data suggest that the teaching tools employed were successful in promoting a deeper level of learning around issues of inequality, particularly social class inequality, as it exists in the US.


            KEY WORDS: Sociology; Education; Social Stratification; Social Inequality; Teaching Methods; United States of America.


26. Jackson, S. (2003). Lifelong earning: Working-class women and lifelong learning. Gender and Education, 15(4), 365-376.


            Argued is that despite the rhetoric that surrounds lifelong learning, barriers to participation for working-class women are too often ignored or made invisible. From a critique of current policies and practices of lifelong learning, the article addresses the diversities of working-class women's multiple identities while considering some of the (apparent) wider benefits of learning for working-class women. Concluded is that many working-class women are trapped in a cycle of lifelong earning that centers on low-paid, low-status jobs. In a learning society driven by market forces based in inequalities of gender, race, & class, there is no political escape.


            KEY WORDS: Adult Education; Women’s Education; Females; Working Class.


27. Jones, S. T. (2004). Living poverty and literacy learning: Sanctioning topics of students' lives. Language Arts, 81(6), 461-469.


            This article examines the social class differences among students and its impact students' engagement with literacy practices in the classrooms. The article stresses that teachers must hear and validate stories of poverty as an effective strategy to gain class-specific understanding.


            KEY WORDS: Social Differences; Poverty; Literacy Education; Social Class; Language Teachers; Teaching Methods; Relevance (Education).


28. Karen, D. (2005). No child left behind? Sociology ignored! Sociology of Education, 78(2), 165-169.


            As part of a special journal symposium on the George W. Bush administration's 2001 No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, the author argues that this legislation was implemented with poor funding & an even worse implementation plan. Most egregiously, NCLB is based on an insufficient understanding or complete contradiction of a large body of sociological & other research that has identified factors in schools & communities that impact the academic achievement of children from disadvantaged backgrounds. The NCLB provisions are examined & potential contributions that sociologists can make in its implementation & evaluation are reviewed. Particular attention is paid to the ways that the social structure of inequality in the US shapes children's achievement, a fact that the NCLB's focus on test scores as a measure of school success ignores.


            KEY WORDS: Academic Achievement; Educational Policy; Disadvantaged; Opportunity Structures; Learning; Schools; Achievement Tests; Sociological Research; Sociology; Education.


29. Lamb, S., Long, M., & Malley, J. (1998). Access and equity in vocational education and training: Results from longitudinal surveys of Australian youth. Melbourne: Australian Council for Educational Research.


            A study examined access and equity in vocational education and training (VET) in Australia for youth from different social and educational backgrounds using data from a program of national longitudinal surveys. Secondary VET participation was low; youth from lower socioeconomic backgrounds were more likely to enroll; and students were more likely to proceed to further studies in the postschool VET sector. Post-school education and training participation had grown, with substantially increased rates of entry to higher education for girls and to postschool VET for boys; higher education was the main destination for youth from higher status origins, VET for those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and early school leavers; and rural youth were more likely to participate in VET. Apprenticeship continued to be male dominated; it was stronger among lower socioeconomic groups and was chosen by middle and low achievers. Traineeships were important for females. Technical and further education (TAFE) completion rates varied by course, rural or urban location, and level of schooling attained. Work-based findings showed younger employees received less formal and more informal training, and higher educational qualifications were associated with higher levels of training. Durations of unemployment were shorter and earnings higher for males with apprenticeship training or who participated in TAFE diploma courses; female higher education graduates had a substantial earnings advantage; and males with a TAFE diploma training or who completed apprenticeship had the highest average weekly earnings.


            KEY WORDS: Academic Achievement; Access to Education; Apprenticeships; Educational Background; Educational Benefits; Educational Discrimination; Enrollment Influences; Enrollment Rate; Enrollment Trends; Equal Education; Foreign Countries; Geographic Location; Longitudinal Studies; Postsecondary Education; Secondary Education; Vocational Education; Youth; Australia.


30. Lewis, L. S. (2003). Will education reform create more opportunity? Society, 40(5(265)), 57-61.


            This article analyses the value of the "No Child Left Behind Act of 2001" (H.R.1) which is intended to "close the achievement gap" among America's children. The main goals of the program are to increase standardized test scores, decrease student/teacher ratios, & improve the quality of teachers. Although well intentioned, the law is likely to fail because it is based on five questionable assumptions: (1) school attendance is valued by all individuals; (2) school practices significantly affect academic achievement; (3) cognitive skills are learned almost exclusively in school; (4) socioeconomic success is largely determined by the possession of cognitive skills; & (5) education creates opportunities.


            KEY WORDS: United States of America; Educational Policy; Educational Reform; Theoretical Problems; Academic Achievement; Social Inequality; Income Inequality; Educational Opportunities; Social Influence.


31. MacNevin, A. L. (2004). Embodying sociological mindfulness: Learning about social inequality through the body. Teaching Sociology, 32(3), 314-321.


            This article uses a sociology teaching method that communicates the reality of social inequality through attention to everyday body language & proxemics. By using role playing & nonverbal exercises, students are reminded that power relations are an intimate & intuitive experience. Body language, as observed by Edward Sapir (1949), is "an elaborate & secret code that is written nowhere, known by none & understood by all." Body language maintains an intricate role in maintaining social order, through subtly communicating dominance, threat, & submission (Henley 1977). Along with assigned readings in body & social class, gender, & power, as part of a third-year sociology course called "Body & Society," developed by the author, the exercises offer a moving understanding of dominance & subordination in intimate relationships & in formal status hierarchies.


            KEY WORDS: Sociology; Education; Nonverbal Communication; Social Inequality; Spatial Behavior; Power; Hierarchy; Role Playing; Teaching Methods.


32. Marks, A. (2000). Lifelong learning and the 'breadwinner ideology': Addressing the problems of lack of participation by adult, working-class males in higher education on Merseyside. Educational Studies, 26(3), 303-319.


            Considering the cultural and economic positions of working-class men in the context of Merseyside, their attitudes towards education and the effects on their levels of participation in higher education. Taken from research into mature students in British universities, the author suggests that universities themselves need to change if they are to offer an image and environment that will appeal to the adult working class, and in particular the adult working-class male and the universities must reassess their “community” role.


            KEY WORDS: Lifelong Learning; Males; Men; British University; Working-Class.


33. McCowan, T. (2003, March). Participation and education in the landless people's movement of Brazil. Retrieved July, 2006, from


            This article analyses the significance of participation in the educational work of the Landless People’s Movement of Brazil (MST), a social movement for agrarian reform that has established a network of schools in its communities. In contrast to the tokenist approaches of many government and supranational agencies, the MST’s view of participation is grounded in principles of radical democracy and social justice. The movement aims to enable the landless to participate fully as citizens in society and to be active in challenging and reformulating societal structures. Education in the MST is related to participation in two ways: first the education system itself is participatory, allowing the involvement of all stakeholders in planning, implementation and evaluation; second, education is a means by which landless people can develop the skills and knowledge to participate more effectively in the wider society. While there are certain areas, such as gender, where the MST is still developing an effective strategy, the movement demonstrates high levels of internal participatory equality, and has developed a pedagogy designed to enable transformatory participation in the political, economic and cultural spheres.


            KEY WORDS: Work and Learning; Globalization; Class Struggle; Class Relations; Brazil; Education and State.


34. Mehran, G. (1999). Lifelong learning: New opportunities for women in a Muslim country (Iran). Comparative Education, 35(2), 201-215.


            Examines literacy education for women in postrevolutionary Iran and whether it empowers women. Discusses seemingly contradictory roles demanded of Muslim women (traditional wife and mother plus social and political supporter of revolutionary ideology) and the role of literacy education in linking women to the sociopolitical network. Analyzes content of textbooks and reading materials in literacy classes.


            KEY WORDS: Adult Basic Education; Content Analysis; Cultural Maintenance; Empowerment; Females; Foreign Countries; Islamic Culture; Literacy Education; Muslims; Propaganda; Sex Role; Textbook Content; Traditionalism; Women's Education; Iran.


35. Merrill, B. (2004). Biographies, class and learning: The experiences of adult learners. Pedagogy, Culture and Society, 12(1), 73-94.


            Adult education in the United Kingdom is historically connected with working-class movements in the nineteenth century. Recently, with the popularity of postmodernism, social class has become a neglected concept among sociologists & adult educators. An increase in participation strategies has raised the number of adult students returning to education, many from the working class. This article examines the biographies of working-class learners to illustrate the continued centrality of class & class inequalities in the lives of adult learners. Biographies reveal how class inequalities confine learning in many ways, making it a risk; however, through the utilization of agency, education can also be transformative. Adult educators need to take note of the voices of working-class adult learners & challenge the structures, policy & practices in their institutions in order to improve the learning experiences as well as to reassert class in academic debates.


            KEY WORDS: Adult Education; Learning; United Kingdom; Autobiographical Materials; Social Class; Working Class; Social Inequality.


36. Mojab, S., & McDonald, S. (2001). Women, violence and informal learning. NALL Working Paper No. 41. Toronto: Centre for the Study of Education and Work, OISE/UT. Available at:


            A comparative study of the impact of violence on immigrant women's learning was conducted among immigrant women of two communities in the Toronto area: the Spanish-speaking community and the Kurds. The two authors of the study each worked with one of the communities in which they had knowledge of the language. An in-depth, non-structured, conversational interview was used with 14 women of each group in order to document the life histories of these women as they experienced them. The Spanish-speaking women also participated in a workshop wherein they focused on learning about the law. All the women had been involved in violence, whether the mostly-domestic violence that the Spanish-speaking women had experienced or the political violence in which the Kurdish women or their husbands, sons, and brothers had participated. The study, reported separately for each group, found that the experience of violence places stress on the women that impedes their learning. The study also found that learning should be viewed as larger than just the learning of content - it includes learning to trust and act on their own behalf and take charge of their own learning. Some of the recommendations of the study included having peer-oriented learning groups to teach women about the legal system and the provision of legal materials in their native languages.


            KEY WORDS: Adult Basic Education; Adult Literacy; Anxiety; Battered Women; Cognitive Style; Developed Nations; Educational Attitudes; Fear; Females; Foreign Countries; Functional Literacy; Immigrants; Informal Education; Kurdish; Language of Instruction; Law Related Education; Laws; Learning Processes; Learning Strategies; Legal Problems; Literacy Education; Minority Groups; Peer Teaching; Personal Narratives; Refugees; Spanish Speaking; Stress Variables; Teaching Methods; Victims of Crime; Violence; War; Women’s Education; Kurds; Ontario (Toronto).


37. Overwien, B. (2000). Informal learning and the role of social movements. International Review of Education, 46(6), 621-640.


            Discusses the benefits of an enlarged view of learning that emphasizes the abilities of the individual learner and the role of the teacher as partner in a joint educational process and includes informal acquisition of skills on-the-job. Argues that much is to be learned from popular educational movements in Latin America.


            KEY WORDS: Case Studies; Conference Papers; Disadvantaged Youth; Education Work Relationship; Entrepreneurship; Foreign Countries; Informal Education; Inservice Education; Nonformal Education; On-the-Job Training Popular Education; Vocational Education; Latin America; Nicaragua.


38. Raffo, C. (2003). Disaffected young people and the work-related curriculum at key stage 4: Issues of social capital development and learning as a form of cultural practice. Journal of Education and Work, 16(1), 69-86.


            A work-based learning initiative was examined in interviews and focus groups with 110 disaffected/at-risk British youth. Results show how configurations of networks and values at macro, meso, and micro levels enhance or constrain social learning and the ability to develop forms of cultural practice and social capital that aid school-to-work transition.


            KEY WORDS: Adolescents; Cultural Influences; Disadvantaged Youth; Foreign Countries; High Risk Students; Networks; Postsecondary Education; Social Capital; Sociocultural Patterns; Student Development; United Kingdom; Work Based Learning; Work and Learning.


39. Ranson, S. (2003). Public accountability in the age of neo-liberal governance. Journal of Education Policy, 18(5), 459-480.


            Analyzes the impact of neo-liberal corporate accountability on educational governance since the demise of professional accountability in the mid-1970s. Argues that corporate accountability is inappropriate for educational governance. Proposes an alternative model: democratic accountability.


            KEY WORDS: Accountability; Democratic Values; Elementary/ Secondary Education; Governance; Liberalism; Work and Learning.


40. Smyth, J. (2003). The making of young lives with/against the school credential. Journal of Education and Work, 16(2), 127-146.


            Interviews with 209 Australian young people who chose not to complete secondary education reveal the complexity of this decision is based on their individual agency in constructing alternative lives. They resist credentialing, which poses an impediment rather than serves as an access mechanism.


            KEY WORDS: Australia; Credential; Early School Leavers; Work and Learning.


41. Thiessen, V., & Blasius, J. (2002). The social distribution of youth's images of work. The Canadian of Sociology and Anthropology, 39(1), 49-79.


            The extent and manner in which youth's description of work reflects their location in the social structure is examined using face-to-face structured interview responses from 1,209 17-year-olds. In this paper, the authors show that social class is the primary organizing principle when youth look at their parents' work, whereas it is gender with respect to their own expected work. The fundamental cognitive principle when youth looks at parental occupations is an evaluative one, juxtaposing desirable with undesirable work characteristics. This evaluative opposition evaporates when youth contemplate their own future jobs, except among working-class boys, who are more likely to expect work with undesirable characteristics.


            KEY WORDS: Children & Youth; Attitudes; Sociology; Employment; Social Classes; Youth; Polls and Surveys; Work; Social Aspects; Work and Learning.


42. Torres-Velasquez, D. (2000). Sociocultural theory: Standing at the crossroads. Remedial and Special Education, 21(2), 66-69.


            The introductory article to this special issue on sociocultural perspectives in special education focuses on sociocultural theory in the 21st century, especially cultural shifts as a function of history, demographic shifts, power shifts to such groups as non-government organizations, and the importance of assuring equal access to education for children with disabilities.


            KEY WORDS: Access to Education; Cultural Context; Demography; Disabilities; Elementary/ Secondary Education; Equal Education; Social Influences; Sociocultural Patterns; Special Education; Theories; Trend Analysis.


43. Tseng, V. (2004). Family interdependence and academic adjustment in college: Youth from immigrant and U.S.-born families. Child Development, 75(3), 966-983.


            This study is an examination of family interdependence and its implications for academic adjustment among late adolescents and young adults in college (18 to 25 years). Survey data and university records were collected on 998 American youth with Asian Pacific, Latino, African/Afro-Caribbean, and European backgrounds. Results indicate that Asian Pacific Americans placed more importance on family interdependence than did European Americans. Across all pan-ethnic groups, youth with immigrant parents placed greater emphasis on family interdependence than did youth with U.S.-born parents. The study distinguished between family interdependence attitudes and behaviors and found that they had counteracting influences on academic adjustment: Family obligation attitudes contributed to greater academic motivation among youth from immigrant as compared with U.S.-born families, but greater behavioral demands detracted from achievement.


            KEY WORDS: College Students; Family Relations; Immigration; Racial and Ethnic Differences; School Adjustment; Academic Achievement Motivation; American Indians; Asians; Blacks; Hispanics; Whites.


44. Vite Perez, M. A. (2003). Notes for thinking about the new social inequality. Sociologica, 18(52), 211-225.


            Changes in the welfare state in the last 20 years leading to the new social inequality are reviewed, using Mexico as a case. The new social inequality is the product of capitalist accumulation utilizing privatization & deregulation within a neoliberal perspective. Neoliberal policy introduced market logic into social services administered by the welfare state, so that the state is now in a position of serving only a limited population, with the consequent deterioration of the collective welfare. High levels of unemployment & underemployment have also led to new modes of social inequality. Contradictions between the logic of capital & the logic of state have reduced the capacity of the state to guarantee social rights. Poverty and limited access to basic services have serious negative effects on the excluded population, who are even criminalized for their role in the problem.


            KEY WORDS: Neoliberalism; Mexico; Social Inequality; Privatization; Deregulation; Social Services; Welfare State; Social Closure.


45. Wedgwood, N. (2005). Just one of the boys? A life history case study of a male physical education teacher. Gender and Education, 17(2), 189-201.


            Studies of physical education teacher training have already established that hegemonic forms of masculinity are reinforced and reproduced both in the hidden curriculum (Flintoff, 1997) and the informal student culture (Skelton, 1993). Given this, an important feminist concern is whether male PE teachers whose own masculine identities are anchored in their athletic prowess simply "teach" their young male charges to construct hegemonic forms of masculinity through PE and school sport and/or whether they necessarily marginalize and inferiorize female students. This paper provides a life history case study of a male PE teacher's role both in reproducing and challenging gendered norms in his capacity as coach of a schoolboy and schoolgirl Australian Rules football team.


            KEY WORDS: High Schools; Masculinity; Hidden Curriculum; Physical Education Teachers; Gender Issues; Males; Foreign Countries; Sex Stereotypes; Sex Role; Teacher Influence; Women’s Athletics.


46. Willis, P., & Carden, P. (Eds.). (2004). Lifelong learning and the democratic imagination: Revisioning justice, freedom and community. Flaxton: Post Pressed.


            This book is a collection of essays from Adult and Community Educators in Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Canada, America and South Africa. There is a general belief here that democracy is about people consciously sharing power and that such deliberate choices to share power, draw on ideals and values of sharing with and including others. In modern life this generous and equitable stance has to be learned and re-learned against competing cultures of individualism and competition. Such learning needs more than logical argument. It occurs when powerful evocations of human equality and dignity capture the human imagination and move the heart. The work of this book is to pursue what needs to be done to generate suitable pre-dispositions for this unselfish sociable spirit to take root and grow. The book has five sections. The first concerns visions of democratic imagining: the second looks at predispositions for democratic imagining. The last three explore the educational work of imagining democracy in three learning arenas: community and work locations, higher and work-related education and schools.


            KEY WORDS: Lifelong Learning; Australia; New Zealand; England; Scotland; Canada; America; South Africa; Democratic Values; Work; Higher Education.


47. Wright, E. O. (Ed.). (2005). Approaches to class analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


            Few concepts have been as central to sociology as ”class” and yet class remains a perpetually contested idea. Sociologists not only disagree on how best to define the concept of class but on its general role in social theory and as well on its continued relevance to the sociological analysis of contemporary society. Some people understand that classes have largely dissolved in contemporary societies; others think class remains one of the fundamental forms of social inequality and social power. Some view class as a narrow economic phenomenon whilst others adopt an expansive conception that includes cultural dimensions as well as economic conditions. This book examines the theoretical foundations of six major perspectives of class with each chapter written by an expert in the field. It concludes with a conceptual map of these alternative approaches by posing the question: ”If class is the answer, what is the question?”


            KEY WORDS: Sociology of Work; Work and Learning; Class Analysis.


48. Zvoch, K. (2001). Contextual effects on adolescent educational expectations: A life history perspective. Dissertation Abstracts International, Section A: Humanities & Social Sciences, 62(4-A), 1328.


            Data from the U.S. National Education Longitudinal Survey of 1988 (NELS: 88) is analyzed investigating macro-level effects on adolescent educational expectations. Consistent with hypotheses derived from the logic of life history theory, adolescents living in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods (i.e., high mortality contexts) are more likely to discount the value of intermediate or advanced levels of education (as reflected in expectations of future educational attainment) when compared with peers from more advantaged areas. Neighborhood influence is robust to individual and macro-level controls. Adjusting for the effects of familial SES, child achievement, parental support, and several aspects of the school environment, neighborhood context, an average of within-neighborhood familial SES scores remained the strongest macro-level influence on adolescent expectations. To assess whether adolescents with short educational time horizons are more likely to engage in behaviors that bring short term gain, data from the longitudinal component of NELS:88 are analyzed. Analysis of follow-up data indicate that adolescents who report low educational expectations in the eighth grade are more likely to later drop out of school, engage in risky sexual behavior, and begin reproducing when considered relative to peers with high educational expectations.


            KEY WORDS: Educational Aspirations; Expectations; Socioeconomic Status.


About the CFI Project

1. General Resources
for Work & Learning

2. Work

3. Learning

4. Work & Learning

   4.1 General Perspectives

   4.2 Formal Training

   4.3 Informal Learning

   4.4 Unpaid Work

   4.5 Education-Job Match

   4.6 Power Relations

   4.7 Labour Unions

   4.8 School-to-Work


   4.9 Life Course Learning

5. Other Topics in
Learning & Work


  |About WALLRB|General Resources |Work |Learning |Work & Learning |Other Topics |