Xavier Rambla Sociologia

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Archive for the category Desigualtats

set. 04 2020

En la recuperació post-Covid, el PIB no ho és tot

Article a Pensem.cat


 


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nov. 27 2018

EU Lifelong Learning Policies and the Vulnerability of Young Adults


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març 23 2018

Why should Europe care for the future of young adults?

I recently published a short comment in the Young Adulllt project newsletter (here). Empirical reports are about to be publised.


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jul. 31 2017

Social mobility narrows down

Posted in Desigualtats |

For decades research on social stratification has measured social mobility in a variety of countries. Contrary to initial hypotheses, the findings do not show declining statistical associations between parental social position, individuals’ level of instruction and individuals’ position. At most, these linkages have loosened in a few Scandinavian countries.

Recently, Thomas Piketty has noticed the disparity between the return of high fortunes invested in finance and the average economic growth. In his view, this disparity is likely to constrain future opportunities of social mobility. This month some evidence of this effect has been published. Apparently, social mobility is certainly narrowing down in the US and the UK.

The available corpus of sociological theory suggests a few explanations. First, financialisation and global value chains endow the elite of the income distribution to appropriate a great share of the added value. This phenomenon has been defined as exploitation. Second, the continuous tension between the expansive rights of citizenship and the advancement and retrenchment of fiscal redistribution used to compensate for exploitation, but the outcome of mainstream policies implemented since the seventies seems to have damaged the potential of citizenship. This phenomenon is normally labelled as social closure. Third, the misrecognition of social identities and the common circumstances people experience during their life course also has to do with this imbalance.

Some normative strands of social theory also contribute to understand the importance of these findings. In essence, this debate has confronted those who legitimise inequality if the agregate welfare improves with those who see a flaw of social justice in inequality. The first perspective basically prioritises economic growth and does not worry much about inequality if production levels are eventually increasing. The second perspective argues that social justice is flawed if people are not endowed with enough resources to enjoy a meaningful life. In this view, child poverty, forced labour, evictions, mass imprisonment, economic vulnerability and other correlative manifestations of inequality indicate that many people are not endowed with that mininum threshold of resources.

 

 


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des. 31 2015

Variations in the connections between the sectors of development

Posted in Desigualtats |

The current agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals takes into consideration the complexity of interactions between the goals. Actually, a growing movement of opinion is challenging the silo structure of the Millennium Development Goals.

A cursory exploration of some well-known regularities shows that these connections do not reproduce the same correlations everywhere at any time, but that important variations are easily observed.

Firstly, Samuel H. Preston’s curve shows that the relationship between income and life expectancy varies for low- and high-income countries. Although a correlation is established among low-income countries, it is not among high-income ones. Moreover, the curve moves upwards over time at the same time as life expectancy rises everywhere. The Gap Minder website not only shows these trends, but it also allows us to explore the situation in the nineteenth century. Remarkably, in many countries at that time economic growth did not impact on life expectancy (here).

Secondly, the correlation between income and mean years of schooling is much more linear. The correlation is similar for male and female populations, but there are some slight differences that should be taken into account carefully (here and here).

But if the range of variables is expanded, some variations are also noticeable. To start with, among low-income countries there is no correlation between income and the number of out-of-school children (here).

In addition, among middle-income PISA countries some correlation is noticeable between income and reading scores, but this correlation is much weaker among high-income PISA countries (here).

 


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ag. 30 2014

Piketty and social class

Posted in Desigualtats |

Thomas Piketty‘s analysis of the wealth and income of the richest 10% has provided very relevant insights on the history of economic inequality in the twentieth century. Furthermore, the author also suggests a couple of very interesting implications for sociological analyses of social stratification.

On the one hand, his book significantly contributes to the debate on the accuracy of class typologies (e.g. Wright, Goldthorpe, Bourdieu) and socio-economic scales (Treiman’s income-occupation scale, Cambridge Scale, OECD’s socio-economic status scale and many others). For some years sociologists have debated on the advantage of either focusing on the discrete position of each class (e.g. concerning political alliances, the effects of deindustrialisation, the impact of fiscal austerity, mobility through education) or focusing on the distances estimated by scales (e.g. prestige and influence, income gaps, distributions of skills, social networks). However, mixed approaches looking at the advantage of both types of analytic tools certainly have a point. Piketty illustrates one of these mixed approaches by closely scrutinising the richest 10% whose wealth comes from specific sources (like class typologies) but whose income can be ranked with regard to the whole of the population (like scales of social stratification).

On the other hand, sociologists have convincingly proved that the school system reproduces the class structure to the extent that lower-class students feel strangers in schools. In this vein, the trend to a more influential inheritance, as identified by Piketty, is also showing the force of class reproduction despite widespread wishful thinking on the potential egalitarian effects of educational reforms targeted to the most vulnerable students. Unless policy-makers align these reforms with wider progressive, social and fiscal reforms, these policies face a severe risk to be ineffective.


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jul. 18 2014

Dimensions of human development

Posted in Desigualtats |

SOCIAL CHANGE AND GLOBALISATION (Sociology & International Students)

The United Nations Development Programme, the World Bank, the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, the Education for All Monitoring Reports and the Global Partnership for Education agree that development consists of progress in an array of human capabilities. Instead of restricting the concept to income, these international organisations argue that education, public health, urban conditions and others have to be taken into account. Albeit with a different wording, the European Union is also aware to these varied dimensions.

Richard Wilkinson’s speech on inequality and public health highlights the connections between inequality and some of these dimensions. As you can see, this researcher draws on several social sciences to argue for a correlation between inequality and certain shortcomings in human development.

In order to frame this debate within issues of social change and development, it is crucial to discuss a couple of questions. Have a look and think about them:

– Do life expectancy and child wellbeing provide a relevant normative information? Does it tell us anything about social justice?

– In Wilkinson’s view, what mechanism accounts for the correlations between income inequality and life expectancy and child wellbeing accross countries?

SOCIETAT DE LA INFORMACIÓ (Empresa i Tecnologia & Gestió Aeronàutica)

El Programa de les Nacions Unides per al Desenvolupament, el Banc Mundial, els Objectius de Desenvolupament del Mil·lenni de les Nacions Unides, els Informes sobre l’Educació per Tothom i el Global Partnership for Education  creuen que el desenvolupament estreva en el progrés en un ventall de capacitats. En comptes de restringir el concepte a l’ingrés, aquestes organitzacions internacionals addueixen que l’educació, la salut pública, les condicions urbanes i altres factors han de ser tinguts en consideració. Tot i algunes diferències terminològiques, la Unió Europea també ha pres consciència d’aquesta varietat de les dimensions.

Aquesta conferència de Richard Wilkinson sobre la desigualtat i la salut pública remarca les connexions entre la desigualtat i algunes d’aquestes dimensions. Tal com podeu veure, aquest investigador fa servir diverses ciències socials per tal de mostrar una correlació entre les desigualtats i certes mancances en el desenvolupament humà.

Per tal d’emmarcar aquesta tesi en els debats sobre la societat de la informació caldria que penséssiu sobre aquestes preguntes:

– De quina manera les desigualtats de Wilkinson afecten el mercat de treball?

– De quina manera afecten l’economia del coneixement?

– Com es podrien neutralitzar aquests efectes?


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març 03 2014

La educación y las dimensiones del desarrollo humano (cat, esp, eng)

Las distintas facetas de la pobreza multidimensional condicionan seriamente las oportunidades educativas.

Artículo en UAB Divulga


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febr. 27 2014

Can early school leaving be prevented?

The 2020 Strategy of the European Union expects to curb early school leaving and boost graduation in tertiary education. These two objectives are defined as the main contributions of education to a knowledge society.

Between 2011 and 2013 a series of meetings have been hold in the corresponding Thematic Working Group convened by the Commission. Apparently, governments have reported to the TWG how they are intervening on the problem and struggling to compensate for it. Common measures include early warning systems, mentoring, flexible grouping, systematic support and second-chance education. However, the recently published report of the TWG also reminds governments of prevention, a concept which makes reference to wider action such as good quaility early childhood education, a relevant and engaging curriculum, flexible educational pathways, integration of migrants and minorities, smooth transitions between educational levels, high quality VET, teacher training and strong guidance systems.

This policy framework assumes that early school leaving may be effectively prevented if preventative strategies are ambitious enough and coherent. However, some of these strategies are politically very sensitive. For instance, integrating migrants and minorities may lead to reforms in school choice schemes in order to counter-act socio-economic segregation. In this vein, some of these recommendations may even have a perverse effect if they are only partially put in place. Thus, flexible pathways and a renewed rhetorical emphasis in VET may convey a selective policy that fosters early and durable tracking in comprehensive school systems.

The final outcome is likely to depend on the official understanding of these policies in a given country. This crucial factor has a political and a cognitive side. The political angle depends on the agenda of priorities and the balance of power between interests, social movements, lobbies, parties and other political players. From the cognitive side, governments normally make sense of their challenges by means of causal beliefs articulated in small “theories” about which may be the probable consequences of their policy. Since these theories are not always coherent with research findings, their evaluation and the resulting feed-back are indispensable to take stock of past experiences and improve the design of new programmes. This gap may be the outcome of an ideological bias, or simply, of a difficulty to translate mixed evidence into a relavant enough language for decsion-makers. Both causes are eventually very difficult to overcome.

So, a careful and complex account of interaction between policy-makers and researchers will be extremely necessary to make sense of the final outcomes and the reflexive reviews of former policies.  But new and more effective approaches can only be outlined through the process of (sometimes controversial) decision-making, complex implementation and partial evaluation. New and more accurate approaches can only arise from these intricate circuits where politics meets expertise and expertise meets politics.


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juny 20 2013

Over-age school enrolment in Brazil

This video is a Spanish summary of  some findings about the drivers of over-age enrolment in Brazil. It is the outcome of a recent article in Education Policy Analysis Archives (written in Spanish too).

Over-age enrolment rates reflect the mismatch between students age and academic year. In this country many youth are still attending primary and lower-secondary schools in their late teens and early twenties. As a rule, this situation is linked to severe academic underperformance due to difficulties in attending classes regularly.

The analysis explores the impact of the Brazilian index of multidimensional poverty on the risk to experience over-age enroment. Four dimensions provoke a very significant effect. Problems in child development are the first one.  It means that children and youth who live with other children and youth suffering from extreme conditions (drop-out, illiteracy, child labour, or over-age enrolment too) are more likely than others to be schooled in years correspoding to a lower age. A second factor is informal labour. The youth are likely to be enrolled over-age when their household depends on insecure jobs which are not supported by a contract and a formal wage. The third factor is family vulnerability, that is, the presence of children or elderly and/or the absence of employed adults in their household. The forth dimension is economic deprivation due to a very low income.

This analysis is helpful to discuss two mechanisms that provoke educational inequalities according to the international specialists. These are the accumulation of material, social and cultural deprivation along people’s life, and opportunity hoarding through social closure.


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