Oslo Summer School in Comparative Social Science Studies 1995

Comparative European Perspectives on Education and Social Inequality

Main discipline: Sociology, Education studies
Lecturer: Professors Robert Erikson and Walter Müller
Institution: University of Mannheim, Germany, and University of Stockholm, Sweden
Dates: 7 - 11 August, 1995


Social inequality of educational attainment and the role of education for occupational outcomes have since long been major objects of study . It is considered to be a crucial variable for the reproduction of social inequality as well as for processes of social mobility in modern societies. It has furthermore been assumed to increase in importance with regard to social positions and occupational careers when societies move into a 'post-industrial' phase. Since educational systems differ considerably between nations it is of particular interest to study to which extent these differences affect outcomes of educational and social reproduction in different countries.

The aim of the course is to introduce the major modes of analysis that have been used to study these questions and to discuss results that have been obtained from various approaches. Central among them are the study of education as a central factor in the status attainment process, the analysis of consecutive transitions between levels of schooling, and the study of how the level of education structures occupational outcomes and class destinations.

The course will emphasize a comparative perspective since it is essential for understanding whether national educational systems produce specific effects or whether more general traits of modern societies structure education processes in different nations in similar ways.

Basic readings

The lecturers
Robert Erikson is professor of sociology at the University of Stockholm. He has in his research mainly been concerned with inequality, level of living, and social mobility. He recently (together with Jan O. Jonsson) lead a governmental commission on social selection to higher education in Sweden.

Walter Müller is professor of sociology at the University of Mannheim. His research has been mainly on social stratification and in particular on the effect of education on patterns of social mobility in industrial societies.