Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Final Report Summary - YOUNG PEOPLE COMM (Communication strategies in groups of young people and their interaction with schools)

1. Hypotheses and method The research investigated the modes of interaction of young people with school, their expectations and hopes, how they construct their self-image as students and build networks of sociability, and how these nets affect their identity. The plan was to collect data via focus groups and surveys, but only the former were conducted due to health issues, maternity leave and status change of the Researcher Correa. 11 focus groups were recorded and analysed: beside two pilots (in Rome and Scampia, a degraded suburb of Naples), 4 groups in Rome, 5 in Belo Horizonte, in high schools on humanities, science, technology and education, with high, middle, working class students.
2. Results The focus groups revealed differences between Italy and Brazil as to the students' expectations toward education, and similarities as to their school experience, the role of school in their life, their interaction with school.
a) Expectations and hopes Italian students differ from Brazilians as to the perceived role of education for social mobility. If after World War 2, in Italy social mobility was achieved through mass education, today a major fraction of students show impressive levels of pessimism about the possibilities of social ascension via schooling. They express strong feelings of decline of the Italian social, cultural and economic reality. On the opposite end Brazilian students, though living in tragic levels of violence, poverty, hunger, look aware of the quick ascending trajectory of their country, showing confidence in their future and in the role of school in their life project construction. Brazil's economic growth and governmental policies to combat hunger and illiteracy and to create new markets and jobs have a role here, while the Italian youth feel the impact of recent cuts and crisis in educational policies, and serious societal problems due to the inefficient Italian management of multiculturalism, religious heterogeneity and marginalization following recent migratory fluxes. Italian students have feelings of decadence and failure of the educational system; many declare that social mobility is not linked to school, and view economic stability as only possible if one is lucky, or helped by one's family, or one can participate in reality shows or become famous in sport or show-business. Students in Brazil, instead, where recent policies opened school to historically excluded social groups, view education as a tool for social mobility and a locus for socialization and personal formation.
b) School experience Both in Italy and Brazil, the perceived quality of schooling experience varies across different social groups. Only some schools can make the difference in the students' life project, based on their type (humanities, science, technological, professional) and organization (curriculum, peer groups, teachers, social capital, etc). So, unequal access to school reproduces social inequalities.
c) The role of school in life In choosing a school, young people live a tension between instrumentality (what is best for my social ascension), and individuality (what I like most, following my dreams and desires). They feel that school can orientate their professional and personal choices, and that knowledge and culture are important, but their acquisition is highly affected by school environment and relationships with teachers. For Italians as for Brazilians, in value transmission and comparison both family and school contribute to the construction of identity.
d) Interaction of peer groups with school School is an important place for meeting, conviviality and socialization. In groups and nets the youth affirm their identities, establish frontiers between individual and collective life, give a meaning to gender, ethnic, age and socioeconomic realities. Participation in teams and communities, leisure-time, fashion, new modes of communication, construct groups and define forms of appropriation of school experience.

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