Which socio-economic class is most self-reflective?

Social class and education


Tables and figures

1 Introduction

2 education and social class
2.1 Education
2.2 Social class
2.3 Class-specific education
2.3.1 Theoretical and methodological explanations of educational differences
Power and control theoretical considerations
Rational Choice Theory
Modernization theoretical hypotheses
2.3.2 Pre-school education
2.3.3 School education
The school: tasks, goals, limits
The role of the parental home
Class-specific school types
Desired and actual degrees
2.3.4 University studies and vocational training
University degree
Vocational education
2.4 Summary

3 Intergenerational educational mobility
3.1 Educational expansion and advancement
3.1.1 The educational expansion in Germany
3.1.2 Educational advancement as a consequence of the educational expansion
3.2 On the inheritance of educational advancement and educational or professional status
3.2.1 Social mobility in the form of school-based educational advancement
Fuchs and Sixt on educational mobility over three generations
Becker's reanalysis by Fuchs and Sixt
3.2.2 Social mobility in the form of vocational educational advancement
Girod's study on social mobility among adolescents
Becker's analysis of intergenerational mobility over the life course
Status inheritance processes between mothers and daughters
3.3 Summary

4 discussion



Tables and figures

Table 1: Level of education - adult population (2006) in percent: Level of education of 25 to 64-year-olds, according to the highest level of education. (Based on OECD 2008: 45.)

Table 2: Professional and social origin and professional intentions. (Based on Girod 1961: 232.)

Table 3: Professional and social origin and professional intentions. (Based on Girod 1961: 233.)

Table 4: Professional and social origin and professional intentions. (Based on Girod 1961: 234.)

Figure 1: Graduation rates in upper secondary education (1995, 2006). (Based on OECD 2008: 55.)

Figure 2: Education outcome rates by gender in percent. Basis: SOEP 1986; ALLBUS 1980-1992 (weighted according to the microcensus). (Based on Müller / Haun 1994: 14).

Figure 3: Proportion of respondents with at least medium maturity by class of origin and year of birth. Basis: SOEP 1986; ALLBUS 1980-1992 (weighted according to the microcensus). (Based on Müller / Haun 1994: 16).

Figure 4: Proportions of respondents with at least medium maturity by class of origin and year of birth. Basis: SOEP 1986; ALLBUS 1980-1992 (weighted according to the microcensus). (Based on Müller / Haun 1994: 16).

Figure 5: System of the 3-generation approach; Designation of the generations. (Based on Fuchs / Sixt 2007: 10)

Figure 6:: 4-generation model (based on the 3-generation

Approach by Fuchs / Sixt 2007)

1 Introduction

Intelligence and education of the Germans, so it says in the bestseller “Generation Doof. How stupid are we actually? ”By Stefan Bonner and Anne Weiss, are on a downward slide - and have been for years. The “generation stupid”, as the authors call the next generation, which is characterized by certain stupid attitudes, interests and behaviors and consists of today's 15 to 25 year-olds, is slowly but surely taking over the helm. Education is not the same as intelligence. Individuals can have a certain basic education "without a particularly large amount of light being on in the upper room" (Bonner / Weiss 2008: 53). Conversely, they can also be intelligent "without ever having opened a book" (ibid .: 53). The authors sum up: “As far as our education is concerned, there is a huge problem not only with the hardware but also with the software. Above all, general knowledge today is something that one should have known - but meanwhile we know practically nothing ”(ibid.).

In a simple way, but still aptly, they make it clear that real knowledge is not only important for the main prize in an educational show, but also has a practical use (cf. ibid .: 59). The indiscriminate acquisition of encyclopedic knowledge is not crucial. Today, when dealing with knowledge, it is not the fundus in one's own head that is decisive, but the ability to pick out and assemble those puzzle pieces from the unlimited sea of ​​knowledge that not only result in a blurred picture salad, but a coherent overall picture (cf. ibid .: 61).

The roots of education are bitter and the fruits are sweet. - Cicero

This work picks up on an old but still current topic: the social selectivity of education. Education is not only understood as school education, but also the areas of pre-school and vocational education are to be presented and examined here. The focus of the work is intergenerational educational mobility.

Social selectivity of the educational system means that the results of educational and learning processes always correspond to the social origin of the individual learning. Even in childhood, the differences, divisions and divisions of society mean that individuals are directed towards social careers and educational paths that determine their chances in life in many ways. Selectivity of the educational system or educational inequality describes the difference in educational behavior and in the educational qualifications achieved by children who grow up under different social conditions and in different family contexts.

Various theoretical approaches are discussed in the literature to explain educational differences. These can be roughly divided into socio-structural approaches that examine the resources of the family of origin that are shaped by the socio-economic situation, into educational approaches that address teaching and learning processes in school and the family, and into cognitive-psychological approaches that emphasize the influence of basic cognitive skills , classify. The main focus of this thesis is on socio-structural approaches to explain educational differences. Pedagogical issues are deliberately excluded, such as the effect of individual, cognitive, motivational and social learning requirements that address the individual processing and the mediating influence of teaching processes, as well as processes of the school context. This is not intended to suggest that these issues are irrelevant. The exclusion of educational and contextual determinants occurs because the social origin of a child is so important that it must first be shown which influencing factors on the side of the family of origin are important for the differences in performance. Subsequently, it would then be necessary to examine which pedagogical and contextual measures are suitable to equalize or even compensate for the family disadvantage and at the same time to achieve a higher level of performance.

In the first chapter of this thesis, the theoretical basics are presented. The point is to highlight what is under the terms education and layer is to be understood and therefore to work out in which context they are. To a vast range of relationships between education and layer To be able to show, the educational process is divided into three phases of life: pre-school education, school education and university studies as well as vocational education. Conclusions can also be drawn from attending a kindergarten on later attending secondary school and the associated graduation, as well as - logically - from the successful completion of a school career on later professional success.

The following chapter focuses on intergenerational educational mobility. It's about working out whether parents can pass on their own educational achievements to their children. Here, too, education is to be understood not only as school education, but also as vocational education. Logically, pre-school education is no longer relevant in this chapter.

The final discussion also serves to summarize the findings presented and to formulate any questions that have not yet been answered.

2 education and social class

2.1 Education

The concept of education as it is used today comes from a normative-idealistic environment that is always present in today's usage. In modern society it is education but at the same time a resource (cf. Löw 2006: 19).

The concept of education is attached to a process of self-formation and through the result of being educated, an understanding of culture that forms the basis for decisions and judgments. The increase in knowledge also serves for self-formation and personality development. According to Martina Löw, he is liable education a moment of emancipation and democracy, as it gains social importance, as all people (should) have the chance to understand culture and to develop themselves through general education. At the same time, naming a group as educated but also always produced population strata, which as uneducated were valid. Thus separates education Classes and sexes from one another, as they are also used to regulate access to power and money. education In summary, refers to self-reflexivity and economic functionality, the ability to make judgments and influence by the state, to equality and to hierarchy (cf. ibid .: 21).

The concept of education is to be understood here as conveying values, attitudes, knowledge and skills that people need in order to be able to assume their social role in society in adulthood. This includes training for specific professions and skills. It is not of interest how many and which educational content is imparted to schoolchildren and students, but which educational qualifications are obtained from which educational institutions.

How important education is in today's society, almost Hradil put together:

Educational institutions and the knowledge imparted there have become more and more important in the course of history, both for the individual and for society as a whole. Today, for most people, education is the most important “capital” needed to lead their lives successfully. And for modern post-industrial societies, education and the “knowledge” conveyed here have become so important that they are referred to as “knowledge societies”. Education and knowledge are the engines of social development, no longer land, as in pre-industrial society, or machines and factories, as in modern industrial society. (Hradil 2006: 129)

In addition, Hradil mentions the advantages of investing in higher education: Investing in a higher-quality educational qualification enables better protection against unemployment and higher earnings, which in turn enables better living conditions, even if little or no income is earned during the training period . Higher educated people have more opportunities for further training, experience a higher reputation and are better able to assert themselves in private life and against public institutions. They also have more options for shaping their lives and have a better chance of staying healthy and living better. However, education is generally less profitable for women than for men. In all countries, although to a different extent, women continue to have a higher risk of unemployment than men if they have the same education and they also earn less, especially if they are married. As far as later income is concerned, an upper secondary school leaving certificate is particularly profitable in the EU. Every additional training brings an additional income supplement (cf. Hradil 2006: 60f.).

2.2 Social class

The fact that societies are socially stratified is by no means a phenomenon of modern societies. Social stratification is the result of an unequal distribution of property (cf. Dahrendorf 1967: 340) and is therefore probably as old as humanity itself, even if there were certainly cultures without personal property.

The concept of social class is defined differently in sociology by different representatives.

Theodor Geiger defined it in 1962 social class as follows:

Each class consists of many people (families) who have some recognizable characteristic in common and, as bearers of this characteristic, have a certain status in society and in relation to other classes. The concept of status includes standard of living, opportunities and risks, opportunities for happiness, but also privileges and discrimination, status and public reputation. [...] Stratification means the structure of society according to the typical status (the social positions) of its members, without any further definition of these social positions or the characteristics to which they are linked in the special historical case. (Geiger 1962: 186)

According to Geiger, the term says the social class from "that the structure of a given society through [...] the stratification decisively determines that the established type of stratification is characteristic of this society" (Geiger 1962: 194). In principle, a social class can exist without its members being aware of it (cf. ibid .: 201). However, so criticized Geiger, today's society is interpreted with a stratification model that was read from the society of the day before yesterday (cf. ibid .: 195).

Dahrendorf wrote against it:

The social stratification [...] has been defined as a system of inequality of the distributive status of people, i.e. as a system of different distribution of coveted and scarce goods. (Dahrendorf 1966: 30f.)

Karl Martin Bolte and Stefan Hradil refer to a number of people who appear the same or similar with regard to certain socially relevant differentiations as one Social category. People who have the same or a similar status refer to them in turn as one Status group. Only when there is between Status groups based on the criteria that determine the status clearly show the gradations in life situations, should be layers be the talk of the town (cf. Bolte / Hradil 1984: 32).

Fundamental differences to the typical class models can be seen in all of the above definitions. The main features of the social class no longer apply to stratification concepts: stratification concepts neither concentrate on economic aspects by definition, nor do they represent theoretical and analytical models. Hradil 1987: 73).

Rather, the class concept describes social groups that have certain living conditions in common and that in this context have certain socio-cultural peculiarities that one in the interaction and communication with other individuals layer other layers subordinate or superior (cf. ibid .: 73f.).

The shift model can include both economic and non-economic criteria. With their help, it describes certain social situations, but does not explain them and does not make any statements about their development. The shift model is usually aimed at individual characteristics and only to a limited extent at social relationships. It primarily serves to emphasize the vertical order within the structure of social inequality and is only secondarily designed to make dependencies and conflicts visible (cf. Hradil 1987: 74).

In the literature on the sociology of education and on social inequality, contributions can also be found that use the class term or the milieu term instead of the class term. The concept of social class, which has its origins in Karl Marx, includes core economic structures, external living conditions that can be experienced, forms of consciousness and community as well as collective forms of action, i.e. socio-economic, socio-cultural and socio-political components. The class concept according to Marx is of only limited value for sociology, as Theodor Geiger also put it:

For Karl Marx, society is primarily an economic society. For him there is therefore no disciplinary distinction between sociology and social economics. Nowhere is this so obtrusive as in his doctrine of social stratification. A prehistoric society that knew no personal property was therefore classless. A future society will once again be classless after private ownership of the means of production has been abolished. In between lies world history known to us, which is - essentially, if not exclusively - the history of class struggles. [...] as far as Marx's concept of class is concerned, its cognitive function is already given. It is philosophical of history: classes, determined by their location in the production relationship, are collective powers that make history. Classes are at war with one another, and the subject of the struggle is the economy of society. (Geiger 1962: 188f.)

In the debates about the social structure - especially in Germany - the majority of social scientists emphasize the existence of Classes doubted. Instead, the Pluralization of lifestyles and the differentiation of Milieus placed in the foreground. There is often an implicit reference to the social structure of a certain phase.

The concept of social milieus but is not used very much in the sociology of education. On the basis of various studies, Helmut Bremer differentiates between three basic types of milieus: Upper, middle and lower milieus, which in turn are subdivided into further sub-groups (cf. Bremer 2007: 140ff.).

Even if in the sources cited in this work the term class or des Milieus is used, the term is used here social class prefers.

2.3 Class-specific education

The fact that social origin has an influence on the educational path of every individual is not a new phenomenon. Bourdieu illustrates how clearly people differ from one another through their education. Going through or not going through the education system draws a line between the actors. This limit

eventually becomes in and through the concours himself and clearly in the ritual step he has taken, that truly magical boundary with which an essential difference is set between the last one that existed and the first one that failed, and through the right to wear one Called, one Title is marked. This incision is a truly magical process, and its paradigm is the division between the sacred and the profane as analyzed by Durkheim. The act of classification through education is always, but especially in this case, a Ordination act, an act of assignment like dedication. He sets social rank differences, final status. The elected are distinguished for life by membership (for example as former members of a grand école), they are members of an 'order' in an almost medieval sense and of a nobility, a sharply delineated ensemble (to which one belongs or not) of people who are separated from ordinary mortals by an essential difference and are legitimized to rule. In this respect, the separation from school is also an ordination in the sense of a consecration, an enthronement in a sacred category, a nobility. Our familiarity with these seemingly purely factual acts carried out by the educational system prevents us from seeing all that they hide. (Bourdieu 1998: 37)

Bourdieu may sound a bit drastic and exaggerated, but it is precisely through his exaggeration and the reference to the church and the nobility how outdated and hardened the educational structures are: the educational system, which actually serves to create equality, introduces and legitimizes social closure processes .

With Hradil, too, it can be clearly seen, albeit not as drastically as with Bourdieu, how selective the educational system is:

As mentioned, educational institutions have, among other things, the task of selection and placement. Graduates should be given appropriate grades and qualifications to open or close certain occupational fields and positions in society higher or lower. This link between formal educational qualifications and the later professional position is closer in Germany than in most other countries. Therefore, the inequality of educational opportunities in Germany is "objectively" particularly momentous. (Hradil 2006: 149).

In summary, it can be said that the already existing selectivity due to the social origin of an individual is further strengthened by the education system.

The link between the parents' social origin or social status and the educational success of the children is not only very high in Germany, the same applies to Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg. In Japan, Korea, Iceland and Finland, Canada and Sweden, however, it is possible to achieve a certain decoupling of social origin and individual performance with a high level of performance (cf. ibid .: 155).

2.3.1 Theoretical and methodological explanations of educational differences

Various theoretical and methodological approaches to explain educational differences can be found in the literature. These are to be briefly described here.

Power and control theoretical considerations

Education as a resource serves to secure and legitimize advantages for privileged population groups. Structurally, advantageous social positions cannot be increased at will and for this reason, when the educational system is opened up, the educational requirements for access to positions are shifted upwards and increasingly linked to new conditions. Fulfilling these conditions is only possible with economic, social and cultural resources of the privileged origin (cf. Müller / Haun 1994: 4).

Rational Choice Theory

Educational decisions can be explained with the help of rational choice theory. The educational path is a consequence of parental decisions about the change in school type and thus about the continuation or termination of the educational process. Parents from higher classes decide to a far greater extent to continue the educational process of their children, while the lower social classes opt for short school or training courses. Educational decisions are made with a view to their costs and benefits, which thus cause educational inequality (cf. Hill 2006: 249f).

Modernization theoretical hypotheses

In the hypotheses of modernization theory, increasing mechanization and rationalization make education more and more important in modern societies. For this reason, educational institutions are being expanded, access to education is being made easier and social barriers are being reduced through appropriate reforms. In addition, according to the hypotheses of modernization theory, modern societies are characterized by generally improved living conditions and a lower degree of distributional inequality. In a society beyond class and class, differences between social groups in the demand for education and in actual participation in education become smaller as a result of these developments and as a result of an alignment in ideal value orientations (cf. Müller / Haun 1994: 3f.).

2.3.2 Pre-school education

Early childhood support is no stranger to Germans. The worry that their own offspring will flourish or learn too poorly, too late, or too slowly determines the everyday life of many families. The readiness of the parents to help with the development of the children, to accelerate it if possible, has become enormous. In Germany, a quarter of children are sent to private support therapy in their first eight years of life. Music schools and private providers of language courses are very popular (cf. Kullmann 2009: 40).

For a long time the kindergarten was understood as an object of material equipment, as a place in which there are a number of teachers, a number of rooms and a number of play materials, which, if they are conveniently arranged, result in favorable conditions for the education of the children (cf. / Rabe-Kleberg 1977: 23).

But the kindergarten is much more than just a place with toys, teachers and children. In kindergarten, children learn the outline of their future role in the partnership. In doing so, they will certainly lean on their parents or the kindergarten teacher again and again. But they also create their own sphere of influence, shape their sphere of influence and work out techniques for building relationships (cf. Spitz 2000: 78). For children, the kindergarten is an opportunity to have social contacts and play opportunities outside of the family. The kindergarten is the predominant form of institutional early childhood education in the Federal Republic of Germany and, in spite of country and provider-specific differences, represents a consistent structure in its specific form, in that learning areas can already be found that are based on school subjects, for example music education, language education or movement education (cf. Karsten / Rabe-Kleberg 1977: 66).

A characteristic of the kindergarten is that it is subordinate to the family and social ministries of the federal states and is both chargeable and voluntary. The last two points in particular are characteristic of socially selective participation in kindergarten. A high degree of similarity can be found between the children who attended kindergarten late or not at all and the children who later showed low results in performance tests (cf. Kratzmann / Schneider 2009: 231).

The decision to go to kindergarten can already be interpreted as a secondary effect of origin. Under the assumption that attending kindergarten will accelerate the increase in competence of one's own child, the decision against early kindergarten attendance is to be interpreted as a waiver of special support, which is particularly made by parents with little education (cf. ibid .: 229).

Empirical studies indicate that attending kindergarten has a positive effect on the child's development. However, this influence depends on the age at entry and the duration of kindergarten attendance. Children who attended kindergarten at a very young age show better skills and greater school success in the further course of their education (cf. ibid .: 217).

Jens Kratzmann and Thorsten Schneider specify these results, which have so far been very general[1]. In doing so, they place a special focus on the effects on when they start school: Children are more likely to start their school career early if they have already attended kindergarten at the age of three. The same applies to children who did not attend kindergarten at all (cf. Kratzmann / Schneider 2009: 223).

Early school enrollment is significantly less common in the new federal states. As far as the origin effects are concerned, hardly any influences can be determined if all children are considered regardless of their age. In-depth analyzes, however, show an influence of social origin if the legal scope for decision-making is large, i.e. the children reach the age of 6 in the first three months after the start of schooling (June 30th) and the parents can decide whether their child should start school early or not (cf. ibid .: 224).

Children who have reached the age of 6 immediately before school enrollment are more likely to be deferred. However, those of them who attended kindergarten at the age of three have a significantly lower risk of being deferred. This risk is also reduced if the children's parents have a higher formal level of education (cf. ibid .: 224). In the case of children whose parents do not have a formal educational qualification, every second child is deferred; if the parents have an intermediate level of education, 29 percent of the children are put on hold; if the parents are academics, the figure is only 9 percent. However, this educational gap no longer exists if the children have already attended kindergarten at the age of three (cf. ibid .: 227).

In the years 1992-1994, 88 percent of the pupils attended kindergarten before starting school, whereas 12 percent did not. 92 percent of the children who attended grammar school at the age of 14 were in kindergarten at pre-school age (cf. Büchel / Spieß / Wagner 1997: 533). It should be noted that a higher income when attending kindergarten plays a major role. A higher income of the parents leads to kindergarten attendance more often (cf. Büchel / Spieß / Wagner 1997: 536). Attending kindergarten is especially important for foreign children. The foreign children examined at the grammar school were all in a kindergarten before starting school; in the case of foreign students at secondary school, it was only 57 percent (see ibid .: 534). Büchel, Spieß and Wagner conclude from this that the kindergarten promotes the integration of foreign children and improves their equal opportunities (cf. ibid .: 537).

It can therefore be summarized that when deciding on school enrollment, social origin comes into play in several ways. Parents with close links to education often have better conditions for family stimulation, which lead to a faster development of skills in a child and thus enable them to be able to attend school at a younger age. Primary origin effects of socially disadvantaged children or migrant children can be reduced by attending kindergarten. They in particular benefit from early kindergarten attendance, because the risk of deferring after their parents have completed their education is (almost) completely offset by attending kindergarten early.

2.3.3 School education

The school: tasks, goals, limits

The school is the core of a differentiated and comprehensive system of state-organized education. It has the task of ensuring the education of the next generation. The concept of education represents a very broad spectrum of societal requirements and related individual competencies. The school must at the same time conform to the professional qualification requirements of the economic system, be based on the framework conditions of the political system, and enable appropriate forms of participation. With its external and internal forms of differentiation, it relates to the established mechanisms of social status distribution. In addition, with its educational offers, it must ensure that the basic convictions of the cultural community that guide action are passed on (cf. Veith 2008: 41f.).

In 1961, Hansjürgen gave the school the following function at home:

It serves less and less to assert the status of the upper class and is developing into the place where, regardless of origin, the skills are developed, the skills are imparted and the achievements are demonstrated which are required for access to the individual positions. School education thus becomes a “strategic factor” in the process of assigning professional positions according to universalistic criteria. (At home 1961: 200)

Is that really the case? There is no question that the school and the achievements achieved there serve to later assign professional positions, but it does not do so without being socially selective, as will be shown below.

Charlotte Lüttgens says the tasks of the school are as follows: The preservation and communication of the cultural heritage to the pupils and the exercise of the social heritage by introducing the pure primary group of the family into the increasingly differently faced world of adults, the secondary group. Through the interplay of both functions - the more conservative of cultural mediation, the acquisition of knowledge and skills and the more dynamic of the actual upbringing and teaching of behaviors and evaluations - the school has a forward-looking as well as a backward-gathering direction (cf.Lüttgens 1971: 26 ). At the same time, Lüttgens warns that the school system strengthens the social hierarchy by differentiating the quality of the knowledge imparted and documented (cf. ibid .: 25). It is also of the opinion that as long as and insofar as the school sees itself in the gradation of the knowledge it provides as a preliminary stage to the university, it must also see its primary goal in the educational values ​​of the university. And as long as the university and university education are reserved for an elite that is not determined by talent alone, medium-sized society does not have an adequate young talent situation in the school where the university graduate is ascribed direct prestige (cf. ibid.).

Jean Floud formulates his statement about the school's task fulfillment even more clearly. He is of the opinion that in every industrial society the educational system is inevitably increasingly entangled with the dynamics of social stratification and the economy (cf. Floud 1971: 41). As early as 1971 he wrote: “It has long been known that the ties between social class and job and between job and schooling are getting closer” (Floud 1971: 41). No matter how the educational system is organized, it seems to be inevitable that schools and universities exercise selective functions that to a greater or lesser extent cover up the educational goals or make them difficult to achieve (cf. ibid.). According to Floud, there are two main sources of social influences on the schooling process: 1.) The family environment and the general origin of students and teachers and 2.) the social, formal and informal structure of schools and universities (cf.ibid .: 47). A child's educational ability depends to the same extent on the assumptions, values ​​and goals that the teacher personifies and embodies the school organization to which the child is intended to bind, as it does on the values ​​and ideas that are conveyed to the child at home ( see ibid.).

Future generations essentially learn what is offered to them in school, and they learn it to a degree that is largely determined by the quality of the teaching. The result of this learning is school grades. However, school grades are limited in terms of their objectivity, reliability and validity and are also determined by the interest and motivation of the students (cf. Holling / Preckel / Vock 2004: 47). However, the school and the qualifications acquired through it are of decisive importance for the allocation of life opportunities. For this reason, it is interesting and useful to take a look at which parents choose which type of school for their children.

It is clear that social origin has a massive impact on children's educational skills. Children from socially weaker families start their (pre-) school education late and find it difficult to adapt to everyday school life (cf. Holz 2003: 5). These educational imbalances lead to massive deficits and even illiteracy and are easily passed on from one generation to the next (cf. Allmendinger / Leibfried 2003: 12). As far as the growth of the measured intelligence is concerned, there is also a limit for this in school: If the main factors - good teacher, intensive care from parents - are met, there is hardly any improvement. As long as not all children grow up under these conditions, there is still plenty of room for mankind to develop their cognitive potential (cf. Heinsohn 2007: 7).

For every child, Volker Müller-Benedict differentiates between the p marginal social effect and the secondary social effect. Under the primary social effect Müller-Benedict understands that children are less successful because they have less performance potential. Children have different interests, intellectual abilities, energy and stamina and therefore have better or worse performance potential. The secondary social effect means that the performance potential of a child is not recognized, not adequately supported, not used, not used appropriately or incorrectly by them or their parents (cf. Müller-Benedict 2007: 616). Part of the primary social effect is the inheritance of performance potential; part of the secondary social effect are school organization and classroom communication that lead to certain social classes achieving greater school success (cf. ibid .: 617f.). The secondary social effect also remains when the familial socializing influence, the difference in individual performance potential, is neutralized (cf. ibid .: 620).

The basic cognitive equipment of a child is the cause of the primary social effect. However, there can be equally productive children in the lower and upper social classes, for example because a child from the lower class experiences numerous intellectual stimuli despite the poor economic situation of the parents or a child from the upper class spends a lot of time watching television or video games and does not enjoy learning ( see ibid .: 619).

As a conclusion from the separation of the two effects, Müller-Benedict sees that all measures that generally promote the talent of school children, as they are present in school as primary social influences, are primary social effects cannot remedy them and thus only contribute to a limited extent to changes in the social inequality of school success (cf. ibid .: 620).

The role of the parental home

The family background of students is very important for school performance. "Raising" the children, according to Paul B. Hill, is the responsibility of the parents in (almost) all cultures, even if other institutions such as kindergarten, school, mass media and later the professional reference group also make significant contributions. The socialization benefits that families provide vary enormously. These variations are mainly class-specific: A family can only socialize its children within the framework of its own social, cognitive and material possibilities. This means that the future workers emerge from working-class families and the people from the upper class who take on management positions and earn high incomes (cf. Hill 2006: 246ff.).

Pupils whose parents have a university degree also do better, as do pupils whose parents were born in Germany and children who live with both parents. A quarter to a fifth of the differences in performance between students can be attributed to characteristics of family background. School characteristics such as equipment, teacher characteristics or school autonomy contribute much less to the explanation of these differences (cf. Wößmann 2003: 36).

In order to prepare for a school career, the family has to provide specific socialization services: the parents must prepare the children socio-culturally, place them strategically in a school form and be a motivational and instrumental support for the child during the school career. But even then, differences in the individual social groups can be recognized, which will be explained using the example of reading. Reading aloud promotes a child's linguistic development, imagination and identification. Half of mothers read to their children or tell stories every day, but only a quarter of fathers do the same. Only a fifth of mothers read less than two or three times a week, but half of fathers do. The following differences can be determined for each class: Three fifths of the upper class mothers, but only one third of the lower class mothers read aloud every day. Fathers of the upper class do this to 22 percent, fathers of the lower class to 16 percent (cf. Bargel 1982: 230ff.).

If the number of books in a household is taken as a measure of the educational and social background of a family, it becomes similarly clear how important the parents' suggestions and the provision of educational resources are: the knowledge advantage of students who live in a household Growing up with at least two shelves full of books is about twice as large as the average difference in knowledge between pupils in seventh and eighth grade compared to pupils in households with less than one book shelf (cf. Wößmann 2003: 36f.).


[1] The empirical analyzes by Kratzmann and Schneider are based on data from the Socio-Economic Panel from 1995-2004. In this case, the database consists of 1481 examined children.

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