Panel A.04 — Educational choices: theoretical approaches, methodological challenges, and case studies

Convenors Martí Manzano Moliner (Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain); Sara Gil Morales (Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain)

Keywords Educational Choices, Educational Transitions, Educational Trajectories, Social Justice



Certainly, choice is an inevitable concept in any research that seeks to understand how people navigate their educational trajectories and transitions. Rather than an individual decision occurring in a vacuum, sociology of education highlights that choice is a complex process affected by subjectivities, structural constraints, relational factors, institutional frameworks and policy enactments (Cuconato & Walther, 2015; Tarabini & Ingram, 2018).

As a result, sociology confronts the hegemonic neoliberal and individualistic discourse that defines educational trajectories as a series of individual and rational decisions made by informed students that choose in educational turning points similarly to how they consume in free markets (Furlong, 2009). Furthermore, choice is strongly linked to educational inequalities because, as research has extensively demonstrated, people with different levels of power, capitals and recognition experience unequal processes of decision-making that reinforce the social reproduction of class (Ball, 2003), gender (Lappalainen et al., 2013), race (Gillborn et al., 2012) and ethnicity (Franceschelli, 2016) inequalities. Despite this consensus about what choice isn’t, sociology still faces challenges in developing a robust approach to understand choice that incorporates its multilevel nature and multicausal complexity.

With the aim of addressing these challenges, we welcome to the panels theoretical proposals that unpick the complex multicausality of choice in education, methodological innovations to anhance analytical tools to study it, and empirical case studies that place choice in education at the centre of their research focus. The areas of analysis in the considered contributions could focus on policy enactment and framing of processes of choosing, the institutional contextualisation of choices, relational negotiations of educational decisions among key actors such as peers, families or teachers, and subjective negotiations of choice as dispositions resulting of structural positions.


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