Key Perspectives

The research of GOETE is guided by five key perspectives: education, access, coping, relevance and structures.

The GOETE project aims at re-connecting different concepts, traditions and perspectives of education. The German concept of ‘Bildung’ refers to the reflexive process of an individual realising its human potential and of becoming a subjective agent by actively exploring the material and social world.

Educational sociology has been concerned with the fact that education has proved to be a key factor in reproducing structures of social inequality. While until the 1970s this meant that working class children ‘inherited’ the working class jobs of their parents, nowadays low education implies risks of social exclusion. Education has become an indispensable prerequisite of social inclusion while it no longer leads predictably to specific careers. Labour markets are more flexible and as a consequence life courses become de-standardised. Neither access to, successfully coping with, nor the relevance of education can be taken for granted.

Success or failure in education can be interpreted in terms of coping with educational demands. The concept of coping has been extended from psychology of stress and critical life events to everyday life and biography under conditions of de-standardised life courses.

In order to fulfil societal functions as qualification, allocation and integration (Fend 1974), education needs to provide skills, knowledge and competencies held relevant by teachers and school representatives, students and parents, and employers. Curricula and qualifications represent institutionalised agreements on relevant education differentiated according to age and occupation.

The regulation of access, coping and relevance of education depends especially on different institutional structures. Comparative studies have focused on the dimensions of stratification, and of standardisation.