Dissertation Abstracts

Factors Affecting Educational Achievements of Students from Economically Disadvantaged Families in Latvia

Author: KARKLINA, IEVA , ieva@petijums.lv
Department: Department of Sociology and Psychology
University: Riga Stradins University, Latvia
Supervisor: Dr.oec., Professor Andrejs Geske
Year of completion: 2013
Language of dissertation: Latvian, with

Keywords: OECD PISA , social resilience , educational achievements , students from disadvantaged fa
Areas of Research: Education , Poverty, Social Welfare and Social Policy , Family Research


Latvia has some of the highest poverty and social exclusion rates in the European Union. Consequently, also the proportion of secondary school students with high risk of academic failure is high. There exists a direct relationship between students’ socioeconomic background and educational achievements: on the whole, students from well–off backgrounds have higher educational performance than pupils coming from economically disadvantaged families. At the same time, studies have shown that a certain number of economically disadvantaged students are capable to positively adapt to critical situation and to earn high educational achievements despite all difficulties and problems caused by material deprivation. The doctoral thesis deals with educational achievements of children from economically disadvantaged families in Latvia and focuses on the factors affecting educational results. Its aim is to analyze the possibilities for improving school performance of children from such families. The theoretical framework is constructed according to research model than includes P. Bourdieu and J. S. Coleman views on family and school capital effect on students’ achievements, B. Bernstein and A. Lareau approach to the interpretation of cultural capital, and ideas of social capital theorists’ – H. Flap, N. Lin, R. Burt and X. S. Briggs. M. Ungar approach to social resilience as the concept construed in certain society and culture as result of interaction between positive changes contributing factors – is implemented. The research project includes analysis of information gathered from interviews with members of economically disadvantaged families, reflects on the circumstances of those families, and characterizes restrictions in provision of education caused by economical deprivation. Educational achievements of students from low–income families in Latvia and other Baltic States as well as determinants of social resilience have been assessed based on data from the internationally comparative education study OECD PISA 2006. Using the guidelines of capital theory and the concept of social resilience, it is concluded that economically disadvantaged families do not form a homogenous group – although they share a similar socio-economic status, they are different with regards to other forms of family capital: human, cultural and social capital. Socially resilient pupils from economically disadvantaged families use these other forms of capital along with school-level capital and personal capital to reach high educational achievements.