CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

By leaning on longitudinal data produced by the depp, we would first like to reconstruct the school trajectories of pupils who entered junior high school in 1995. The main aim of this article, however, is not only to show that junior high school can only be called “unique” if the social sorting that takes place at this level of the school system is minimized, but also that vocational training is an essential element of this system. Indeed, it has the specific function of offering a “path to salvation” to working-class kids who are the most difficult in school socialization and/or have the most problems in learning, and who because of these two reasons are excluded from general and long-term studies. Junior high school thus appears to be an institution that operates school and social sorting, and this through three procedures that produce cumulative effects: placement in atypical classes, repeating, and counseling at the end of junior high school. In addition, we lean on field studies led in vocational secondary schools to show how pupils retrospectively give meaning to their school paths, so as to improve the explanation of working-class kids’ school trajectories.


  • junior high school
  • vocational training
  • working class
  • school trajectories
  • school democratization
  • repeating
  • counseling
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