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Education for disadvantaged groups — Structural and individual challenges


  • Johansson, Helena
  • Höjer, Ingrid


Who pursues an educational pathway, and who doesn't is highly connected to class position. On the other hand, education may function as a means of disconnecting with a socially disadvantaged background. This article explores the situation of one of the most disadvantaged groups; young people with experience of being placed in foster or residential care. As part of the YiPPEE project, including five European countries, two extensive data sets were combined and analyzed, 33 young people were interviewed, as well as 111 social service managers and 26 nominated adults. The article discusses, using Bourdieu's much used concepts of capital, barriers for continued education after compulsory school. These barriers are found on both individual and family level as well as in relation to national policies and welfare regimes. The findings point to low expectations for higher education from both professionals and carers. The analyses also show that having acquired an educational identity, or cultural capital, is one of the strongest incitements for continued education. However, our results also show that not all young persons from a public care background have had the possibilities of acquiring a sufficient cultural and social capital, and often stand alone and thus choose other pathways. The results have consequences for social work and the authors draw the conclusion that in order to improve the situation for this group, as well as other disadvantaged groups, it is necessary to take into consideration both individual educational support and structural measures.

Suggested Citation

  • Johansson, Helena & Höjer, Ingrid, 2012. "Education for disadvantaged groups — Structural and individual challenges," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(6), pages 1135-1142.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:cysrev:v:34:y:2012:i:6:p:1135-1142
    DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2012.01.042

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jonathan Bradshaw & Petra Hoelscher & Dominic Richardson, 2007. "An Index of Child Well-being in the European Union," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 80(1), pages 133-177, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ngai, Steven Sek-yum & Cheung, Chau-kiu & To, Siu-ming & Liu, Ying & Song, Han-yu, 2013. "Parent–child relationships, friendship networks, and developmental outcomes of economically disadvantaged youth in Hong Kong," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 91-101.
    2. Villegas, Susy & Rosenthal, James & O'Brien, Kirk & Pecora, Peter J., 2014. "Educational outcomes for adults formerly in foster care: The role of ethnicity," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 42-52.
    3. Evans, Rhiannon & Hallett, Sophie & Rees, Alyson & Roberts, Louise, 2016. "The acceptability of educational Interventions: Qualitative evidence from children and young people in care," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 68-76.

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    Public care; Sweden; Education; Social class; Capital;


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