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Content archived on 2024-04-30

School Experience in two European Multicultural Societies: A Comparative Study between Belgium and Britain


Research objectives and content

This project aims to compare the school experience of adolescents from ethnic minorities' in different schools in Brussels and Birmingham. The way educational systems face social and cultural heterogeneity has become an important issue in Western European multicultural societies and poses the questions of their equity as well as their efficiency. The way British and Belgian educational systems deal with multiculturalism thoroughly differs, and the school experience within each context has not been thoroughly and comparatively analysed. To construct our theoretical framework we will use recent theories of ethnicity, sociology of education (educational strategies and school experience theories) and socialisation.

Our main research questions will be:
.How can the strategies developed by both educational systems to deal with multiculturalism be characterized?
.How do the school strategies affect adolescents' school experience?
.How do the characteristics of the different ethnic groups observed influence adolescents' school experience?

After a brief review of both national and local contexts, the main fieldwork will be conducted in two similar multi-ethnic boroughs: one in Brussels and one in Birmingham.

This part will be dedicated to the comprehension of school experience, through individual interviews combined with the method of sociological intervention (Touraine, 1978, Dubet, 1995).

Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact)

This project will provide two principal products:
1. A qualitative comparison of the way two European educational systems deal with multiculturalism;
2. A global and qualitative approach of school socialisation as a "social experience", analysing the articulation between its different dimensions (norms integration, school career and self- construction).

The harmonisation of European educational systems requires the accumulation of comparative research.

This project will contribute to this task providing information out two important facets of the problem: efficient and democratic educational strategies with respect to social and cultural heterogeneity and the school experience of adolescents from ethnic minorities.

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