ERIC Number: EJ721405
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Nov
Reference Count: 4
Parental Choice, Social Class and Market Forces: The Consequences of Privatization of Public Services in Education
Bernal, Jose Luis
Journal of Education Policy, v20 n6 p779-792 Nov 2005
This paper is part of a research project into parental choice, social class and market forces carried out by a team in Zaragoza (Spain). The main objective was to evaluate parents' choice of school and the consequences this may produce in terms of social exclusion and inequality. Additionally, our aim was to determine whether certain populations, ethnic minorities, economically disadvantaged groups and immigrants, are concentrated in the same schools. The methodology was ethnographic. We studied 13 private and public schools in Zaragoza, in which 40 students carried out research for 5 months, using interviews, observations and document analysis. The interviews were fully transcribed and analysed using a Straussian methodology. We found three micro-markets, varying according to different socio-cultural factors, that share the patterns of an "old and stable" market. This kind of market does not work strictly under the rules of the marketplace, where there is tough competition between schools. However, its outcomes are similar. This "old and stable" market is a mechanism of social class reproduction. The middle and upper classes go to private schools, while ethnic minorities, economically disadvantaged groups and immigrants attend the public sector. The parents' expectations, experiences and ideology play a key role in the marketplace, as well as in the several micro-markets. Middle class families have more chances to choose a school, due to greater resources and cultural status. Among several conclusions I emphasize that a market system is not necessary for social inequalities to take place. It will occur when the possibility of choice arises. The middle class are favoured under current circumstances, while the working class are disadvantaged. What are the prospects of disadvantaged classes if a market system is developed, with full freedom of choice being promoted and no compensatory actions carried out? Everybody would have the same rights, but would everyone enjoy the same conditions or possibilities? It is possible to predict that the struggle between a public education monopoly and a market system will produce greater differences between social classes. In fact, these policies could provoke a decline of the public school in Spain.
Descriptors: School Choice, Privatization, Public Education, Equal Education, Public Schools, Private Schools, Private School Aid, Access to Education, Social Class, Foreign Countries
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Spain