Panel A.12 — The analysis of educational choices: empirical evidences, research approaches, and theoretical implications

Convenors Orazio Giancola (Università di Roma “Sapienza”, Italy); Adamo Locicero (Università di Roma “Sapienza”, Italy); Federica Rizzi (Università di Roma “Sapienza”, Italy); Matteo Bonanni (Università di Roma “Sapienza”, Italy)

Keywords Educational choices; Social and educational inequalities; Cumulative inequalities; Research methods in education


A large empirical literature has shown, over decades of research, that educational choices are a key junction in educational pathways and life trajectories. Educational choices are influenced by a wide range of factors. As well-known those related to social background and relationship contexts are relevant but also those linked to school-level factors, guidance practices etc., appear to be of significant weight. At the same time, educational choices at a particular bifurcation point in the school/education path reverberate in subsequent choices in following steps of educational career. In this sense, educational choices become a field of production and reproduction of inequalities, in a process that is often cumulative.

The panel aims to gather empirical (qualitative or quantitative), comparative, national or local contributions on various educational choice transitions, according to a logic of theoretical pluralism (theories of social reproduction, rational action, school experience, and so on).

The main areas of interest are the transition from lower to upper secondary school (especially for countries characterized by institutional or “school-track” differentiation and/or a marked difference between public and private schools), between work or tertiary education at the end of upper secondary education. Another area of interest is related to those who opt for tertiary education, in terms of choice among various fields of study. One more field of interest is related to the changes in educational choices before, during and after the pandemic period.

Further factors of interest in this field are linked to demographic and social transformation in the composition of schools and also the constant increase in educational offerings by various institutions (both school and university). A final relevant topic in this panel could be related to the methods used for collecting and analysing information and data in a very specific as the analysis of educational choices.


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