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Open Access ‘Als je onderaan staat dan kun je stijgen’

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Recent publications on inequality in the Netherlands mostly describe objectively measured dimensions of inequality, but we know little about the subjective dimension: how do people experience inequality? In this article we examine how students in secondary school perceive status inequality, whether they construct a social hierarchy, and how they relate inequality to their own position. The article is based on qualitative research among 177 students (15-17 years old) enrolled in vmbo, havo and vwo. Students were asked to make a visual representation of their perception of society based on 23 photos of social situations and to indicate their own position in society. Sixty percent of the students construct the photo’s hierarchically, which can be interpreted as a reflection of perceived status inequality. The meritocratic ideal seems to justify status inequality. We also find differences in how students of different educational levels see their own social position. Furthermore, we describe how students find ways to neutralize implicit value judgements related to status inequality. In the discussion we elaborate the possible consequences of experienced inequality in general and for students in particular, and the role of our education system in the construction and reproduction of status inequality.
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Keywords: beleving; meritocratie; onderwijs; sociale hiƫrarchie; statusongelijkheid

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2015

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  • Sociologie publiceert over actuele maatschappelijke vraagstukken en sociologisch-theoretische onderwerpen. De artikelen en essays zijn interessant voor een breed, interdisciplinair publiek. Naast onderzoeksartikelen, onderzoeksnotities en boekbesprekingen biedt Sociologie met de rubrieken Debat en Inspiratie een podium voor gedachtewisseling en sociologische verbeelding. Sociologie is het resultaat van het samengaan van de gerenommeerde tijdschriften Sociologische Gids en Amsterdams Sociologisch Tijdschrift en bestrijkt een breed terrein van de sociologiebeoefening in Nederland.

    Sociology (Sociologie) publishes articles on current social issues and sociological-theoretical subjects. The articles and essays are interesting for a wide interdisciplinary audience. In addition to research articles, research notes and book reviews Sociology provides a platform for exchange of views with the sections Debate and Inspiration. Sociology is the result of the merging of the prestigious journals Sociologische Gids and Amsterdams Sociologisch Tijdschrift and covers a wide field of sociology in the Netherlands.

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