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The marketization of a selective school transition in Switzerland


Bauer, Itta; Landolt, Sara (2024). The marketization of a selective school transition in Switzerland. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space:Epub ahead of print.

Abstract

This article seeks to contribute to ongoing debates on geographies of marketization, which are used in social and geographical research on education to account for the performativity and inherent inconsistencies of markets. This case study draws on students’ transition to the state-funded academically focused school track of Gymnasium in Zurich, Switzerland, which merges intellectual and social selectivity in a central entrance examination. This situation has fostered both a flourishing market of costly private preparation courses offered by educational entrepreneurs and free school courses. We elaborate a detailed picture of this educational market by showcasing the entanglement of public education, private supplementary education and parents obliged to advance their children’s educational careers and well-being. For this purpose, we draw linkages between these groups of actors and three key elements of geographies of marketization: problematization, commodification and calculative agents. Our findings show how this complex set of actors interacts in a constant reproduction and contestation of this market. The issues of social inequalities and subtle forms of resistance appear recurrently in our findings, and we argue that a geographies of marketization approach enables a fuller picture to be drawn of this educational transition market. In our conclusion, we suggest that this approach might also be helpful in critically questioning the borders between state-funded education and private supplementary education to improve the chances of transition to Gymnasium for all aspiring children regardless of their social or migration background.

Abstract

This article seeks to contribute to ongoing debates on geographies of marketization, which are used in social and geographical research on education to account for the performativity and inherent inconsistencies of markets. This case study draws on students’ transition to the state-funded academically focused school track of Gymnasium in Zurich, Switzerland, which merges intellectual and social selectivity in a central entrance examination. This situation has fostered both a flourishing market of costly private preparation courses offered by educational entrepreneurs and free school courses. We elaborate a detailed picture of this educational market by showcasing the entanglement of public education, private supplementary education and parents obliged to advance their children’s educational careers and well-being. For this purpose, we draw linkages between these groups of actors and three key elements of geographies of marketization: problematization, commodification and calculative agents. Our findings show how this complex set of actors interacts in a constant reproduction and contestation of this market. The issues of social inequalities and subtle forms of resistance appear recurrently in our findings, and we argue that a geographies of marketization approach enables a fuller picture to be drawn of this educational transition market. In our conclusion, we suggest that this approach might also be helpful in critically questioning the borders between state-funded education and private supplementary education to improve the chances of transition to Gymnasium for all aspiring children regardless of their social or migration background.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Geography, Planning and Development
Physical Sciences > Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
Language:English
Date:5 June 2024
Deposited On:04 Jul 2024 09:44
Last Modified:05 Jul 2024 20:00
Publisher:Sage Publications
ISSN:1472-3409
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/0308518x241256844
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID192207
  • : Project TitleYoung peopleâ��s transition to Gymnasium and the role of private and public supplementary learning programs
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)