Dissertation Abstracts

Non-Standardized Transitions in Educational Careers

Author: Winkler, Oliver , oliver.winkler@soziologie.uni-halle.de
Department: Institute of Sociology
University: Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Reinhold Sackmann
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: German

Keywords: education , life course , reversibility , educational system
Areas of Research: Education , Biography and Society


Social inequality in educational opportunities is an important question in the debate of permeability and opening of the German educational system. Therefore, most sociological studies have focused on the social selectivity that impacts standardized transitions at the nodes of educational paths, e.g. transitions into secondary education after completing primary education or transitions into higher education after graduating secondary education. Less attention has been given to non-standardized transitions that are also related to continuation decisions but occur not after completed educational tracks and/ or do not correspond to typical shapes of educational trajectories. The thesis develops a framework of non-standardized educational transitions and analyzes social inequality in the early leaving of Gymnasium, the returning into Gymnasium and the access of "second-chance" education.
In the first chapter, i give an overview of 16 German educational systems and their institutional setups concerning permeability in educational tracks. By using theories of social closure, I discuss how permeability in German educational systems develops. In a further step, I build theoretical ideal-types of opening in the educational systems. In a historical perspective, I analyze how the federal states and their educational systems empirically fit into the ideal-types and how ideal-types of opening correlate with different factors, e.g. ruling political parties or student mobility.
In the second chapter, I develop the term non-standardized educational transitions. From a life-course perspective, these transitions arise not only as consequences of de-standardization. Institutional requirements have always produced transitions that lead into sequences that do not follow social norms, i.e. shapes of the "normal biography". Later, I discuss how this kind of transitions could challenge theoretical assumptions of life-course decisions.
In the third chapter, I try to explain how social selectivity could affect non-standardized transitions. I rely on theory of cultural reproduction by Bourdieu and rational choice theory. As these theories are often discussed to develop conflicting explanations for educational subjects, I compare both theories.
In the fourth chapter, I analyze early leaving of Gymnasium as an example for non-standardized transitions. I build a theoretical assumption of its temporal shape, i.e. its time-dependency. Using GSOEP and NEPS data and techniques of event-history analysis, I estimate how dropping out is affected by social origin. Furthermore, I test the impact of the theoretical ideal types of opening as independent variables on early leaving.
In the fifth chapter, I observe "second-chance" education. I analyze how social origin may affect the transition into different kinds of sequences, e.g. school-training-work versus school-school or school-training-work-school. Sequence types are modeled using sequence analysis for NEPS data. The impact of social origin for different sequence types is estimated through multinomial logistic regression.
In the sixth chapter, I draw conclusions on the interplay of opening of educational systems, non-standardized transitions and social origin.