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Institutional discrimination: Stereotypes and social reproduction of “class” in the Swedish upper-secondary school

Journal article
Authors Anna-Carin Jonsson
Dennis Beach
Published in Social Psychology of Education
Volume 18
Issue 4
ISSN 1381-2890
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Education and Special Education
Language en
Keywords Stereotypes Institutional discrimination Social class Upper-secondary school Education
Subject categories Pedagogy, Social Psychology


This article discusses the effects of separating 15–16 years-old school students in isolated academic and practical study programs in upper-secondary education. It is based on an investigation of the social identities developed by and about youth learners in these circumstances. In particular we examine the creation of identity positions by youth on academic programs regarding themselves and people like them (in-group characteristics) on the one hand and for other kinds of students on the other, on vocational programs. These constructions are analyzed as a product of self-categorization theory. The investigation involved 224 students from upper-secondary school academic programs. Our results showed that the academic program students expressed strong stereotypes with extremely negative potentials in relation to future social solidarity and equity. On the basis of the findings we strongly recommend introducing mixed classes in upper-secondary school, where students from academic and vocational programs take the same courses in general subjects as a way of reducing stereotypes and prejudice.

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