The School and the student is of foreign origin. Genesis of a category of public action.

The School and the student is of foreign origin. Genesis of a category of public action. A book of Geneviève Mottet and Claudio Bolzman (IES Editions, Collection of the Centre for social research, Geneva, 2009)

The discourse on the school and “the crisis” that it goes through are many, and yet fail to explain the issues of this institution. On the contrary, these speeches seem to emphasize the confusion and the lack of knowledge of the school and its social mechanisms, rather than make them more obvious and identifiable. However, this is not a finding isolated, speech, common support and accentuate factors that would be likely to reveal by their only engagement of the key social problems. Thus, the origin of “ethnic” students would be a central element, if not unique, in order to explain the inequality of educational pathways. The pervasiveness of this representation culturalist is manifest, since the media up to the teachers, to the political representatives. It does not, however, to the authors of this book, to point to the work and action of the actors in the field of teaching working with pupils of foreign origin. Their approach corresponds to the one that had been adopted by Bernard Lahire about ‘illiteracy’1. Thus, their focus is on the structures and discourses that govern and affect the work and the performances of these actors in the school.

The teachers, who arrive in the last line of the ” chain of production ideological “, are therefore directly identifiable as the bearers of essential to an explanation culturalist of the inequality of the chances of success in school. This book helps to put in perspective this point of view and, on the other hand, to better understand the mechanisms at work in the construction and dissemination of an explanation “ethnicisante” problems related to the determination of the inequality of opportunities between students. It is to be noted that the study supporting this work was conducted in the canton of Geneva, which does not, by itself, to extend their conclusions to the case of swiss or French, but requires, it seems, shades or certain changes. On the one hand, the Swiss, and especially the canton of Geneva, have seen strong immigration since the beginning of the 20th century. On the other hand, the employment situation is more favourable in Switzerland than in France, even if the lake geneva region is experiencing an unemployment rate among the highest in Switzerland2. As soon as the job market is less competitive, the role of the school institution, the selection of individuals for jobs which are relatively rare, becomes less necessary.

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