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Educational Choices and Social Interactions: A Formal Model and a Computational Test
Linköping University, The Institute for Analytical Sociology, IAS. Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2013 (English)In: Class and Stratification Analysis / [ed] Gunn Elisabeth Birkelund, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2013, p. 47-100Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In their authoritative literature review, Breen and Jonsson (2005) claim that ‘one of the most significant trends in the study of inequalities in educational attainment in the past decade has been the resurgence of rational-choice models focusing on educational decision making’. The starting point of the present contribution is that these models have largely ignored the explanatory relevance of social interactions. To remedy this shortcoming, this paper introduces a micro-founded formal model of the macro-level structure of educational inequality, which frames educational choices as the result of both subjective ability/benefit evaluations and peer-group pressures. As acknowledged by Durlauf (2002, 2006) and Akerlof (1997), however, while the social psychology and ethnographic literature provides abundant empirical evidence of the explanatory relevance of social interactions, statistical evidence on their causal effect is still flawed by identification and selection bias problems. To assess the relative explanatory contribution of the micro-level and network-based mechanisms hypothesised, the paper opts for agent-based computational simulations. In particular, the technique is used to deduce the macro-level consequences of each mechanism (sequentially introduced) and to test these consequences against French aggregate individual-level survey data. The paper's main result is that ability and subjective perceptions of education benefits, no matter how intensely differentiated across agent groups, are not sufficient on their own to generate the actual stratification of educational choices across educational backgrounds existing in France at the beginning of the twenty-first century. By computational counterfactual manipulations, the paper proves that network-based interdependencies among educational choices are instead necessary, and that they contribute, over and above the differentiation of ability and of benefit perceptions, to the genesis of educational stratification by amplifying the segregation of the educational choices that agents make on the basis of purely private ability/benefit calculations

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2013. p. 47-100
Series
Comparative Social Research, ISSN 0195-6310 ; 30
National Category
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-148773ISBN: 978-1-78190-537-1 (print)ISBN: 978-1-78190-538-8 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-148773DiVA, id: diva2:1220766
Available from: 2018-06-19 Created: 2018-06-19 Last updated: 2018-06-19Bibliographically approved

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Manzo, Gianluca

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The Institute for Analytical Sociology, IASDepartment of Social and Welfare StudiesFaculty of Arts and Sciences
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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
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Language
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  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
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Output format
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