CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

1 This very stimulating short book presents a multidisciplinary collection of studies, bringing together researchers in sociology, geography, and educational sciences. It is based on data collected within the INEDUC research programme (educational inequalities and construction of the trajectories of 11- to 15-year-olds in their living environments). It centres on the study of the spatial dimension of educational inequalities among adolescents living in different types of areas: rural, peri-urban, or urban.

2 In the introductory chapter, Isabelle Danic, Régis Keerle, and Jean-François Thémines present the guiding thread of the book—and of the INEDUC programme more generally—along with the methodology. The notion of education that is central to the book as a whole is a broad one: it covers not only ‘all human actions that are deliberately educational’ but also those that stem from ‘environmental influences with no explicit educational intent’ (p. 8). With its socio-spatial approach, the book explores a field that has previously received relatively little attention in the study of educational inequalities. The authors draw on the rich body of empirical material gathered through a major mixed-methods survey. This included both a quantitative survey of 3,356 students in Grade 8 and 1,043 parents, and a qualitative survey organized into nine site-specific field studies. They were conducted in 2013 in three regions in France: Aquitaine, Brittany, and Normandy.

3 In the first chapter, Patrick Lecaplain presents a socio-spatial analysis of educational inequalities based on the implementation of the national réussite éducative (educational success) programme. Lecaplain’s qualitative survey covers 88 actors in nine municipalities spread across the three regions. His analysis highlights the complexity, depending on the type of area, of the links between these programmes and three dimensions: governance and official bodies, action strategies, and professional practices. As he points out, the results call for specific complementary analyses.

4 In the second chapter, Régis Keerle highlights the advantages and limits of the effects of spatial contexts as factors influencing educational inequalities. He argues that quantitative data in this area should be improved and expanded to enable comparisons between different interventions. In addition to the suggested avenues, an information system that allows for systematic and exhaustive data collection is much needed.

5 In the third chapter, Christophe Guibert presents a quantitative and qualitative analysis of social inequalities linked to tourist mobility and to cultural practices regarded as legitimate. The benefits of the choice of a mixed methodology are notable. As Guibert points out, the results are mainly as would be expected, with differences linked to social origin, geographical context, and cumulative effects. It would have been interesting, in addition to cross-tabulations, to perform an exploratory multivariate analysis to eliminate the effects of structure while highlighting these cumulative effects within a single type of area.

6 The fourth chapter, by Agnès Grimault-Leprince, Pascal Plantard, and Rozenn Rouillard, uses multivariate models to examine the links between schooling and digital practices among adolescents in different life contexts. In light of their results, the authors offer an original analysis, which seeks to measure educational and social inequalities on the basis of whether or not students are well described in terms of an emergent figure, the ‘tactician student’.

7 Chapter 5, by Isabelle Danic, Barbara Fontar, and Agnès Grimault-Leprince, focuses on adolescents’ leisure practices. Using a mixed-methods analysis combining multivariate analyses and interviews, they distinguish five main dimensions: the intensive practice of reading and artistic activities, or the ‘cultured’ dimension; intense sociability between peers, or the ‘convivial’ dimension; high levels of screen time, the ‘digital recreation’ dimension; a sports dimension; and finally, those who do not intensively engage in any of these types of leisure activities. Strong statistical links exist between these different dimensions that vary with adolescents’ socio-educational characteristics. The complementary qualitative analysis sheds further light on these elements. The two methods of analysis converge on the importance of living environments, disparities between rural and urban areas, and urban socio-spatial segregation. Educational inequalities are either reinforced or attenuated by the conditions in different areas.

8 The general conclusion, by Jean-François Thémines and Régis Keerle, surveys the complexity of research on educational inequalities among adolescents. Drawing on the various contributions and a robust mixed methodology featuring both quantitative and qualitative surveys, Thémines and Keerle show that educational inequalities are linked to the physical dimension of space, to a public policy dimension, and to a socio-geographical dimension. A more difficult task is to measure the links, correlations, and hierarchies among these different dimensions. The book concludes on the notion of social justice.

9 This volume presents an interesting and stimulating analysis of the spatial dimension of educational inequalities among adolescents.

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