Sociology of Education


The Sociology of Education SIG aims to:

  • build a network of researchers interested in sociological approaches to research in education and to stimulate debate and discussion,
  • pursue opportunities for advancing sociological analysis of education and sociology of education in broad terms,
  • encourage and support postgraduates and early career researchers working in the field of sociology of education, and
  • provide a basis for streams on the sociology of education at AARE conferences.

Research interests:

The Sociology of Education SIG has interests in empirical and conceptual research that engages with social theories of class, culture, identity and knowledge. 

The SIG focus is broad; it includes, among other things:

  • the social processes underpinning schooling,
  • workplace learning,
  • family/school relationships,
  • stratification,
  • globalisation, and

More information:

  • The Sociology of Education SIG has been established to create a visible and active community of sociologists in the field of education in close collaboration with our sister SIG in the Australian Sociological Association.
  • The Sociology of Education SIG communicates with members through AARE Newsletters and runs symposia and workshops annually. 

Upcoming Events:

AARE Sociology of Education ‘Lunch and Learn’ Seminars

The Sociology of Education SIG invites you to a series of ‘Lunch and Learn’ online Seminars to spotlight research. Hosted by Garth Stahl, Babak Dadvand, Nerida Spina and Sarah McDonald.

See below for details:

Seminar One: The old and new sociology of education

When: Friday 11 August 12-1.30pm (AEST)

Julie McLeod

In this inaugural presentation as part of the Sociology of Education SIG’s ‘Learn and Lunch’ seminar series, Professor Julie McLeod (University of Melbourne) opens the conversation about the sociology of education with critical commentary about the field's past, present and future directions. 


Seminar Two: Researching digital ecologies of primary school children

When: Tuesday 22 August 12-1.00pm (AEST)

Susan Nichols, Education Futures, University of South Australia 
Karen Dooley, Queensland University of Technology 
Hannah Soong, Education Futures, University of South Australia 
Michelle Neumann, Southern Cross University 

How digital technologies enable, constrain and mediate children’s social and educational lives is the subject of this project (ARC DP 2101010226; Nichols, Dooley, Neumann & Soong). This presentation will begin with a consideration of what is meant by ‘digital ecologies’ with reference to theorisations taken from developmental psychology, technology studies, media studies, and new literacy studies. The design of a study capable of investigating digital ecologies is described with specific reference to the How Do You Connect networking interviews conducted with Grade 5 children and followed by close case studies of a cohort of children, their parents, and educators. Findings of analysis conducted to date will be presented and the audience will be invited to discuss possible implications. 

View Slides


Seminar Three: Explorations of belonging with African diaspora youth

When: Thursday 14 September 12-1.00pm (AEST)

Melanie Baak, UniSA Education Futures, University of South Australia
Hellen Magoi, UniSA Education Futures, University of South Australia
Eddie Hypolite, UniSA Education Futures, University of South Australia
Simon Angok, UniSA Education Futures, University of South Australia
Cas Gemoh, UniSA Education Futures, University of South Australia

As the number of Black African diaspora youth increases in Australia, their sense of belonging becomes an increasingly urgent social issue. On the one hand, many Black African diaspora youth now struggle to belong in hegemonically white Australian schools and society. Yet ‘belonging’ is an aspirational demand of policies that reflect the norms of an Australian national identity based on cultural diversity and multiculturalism. In this presentation we will discuss research approaches and emerging findings from research with African diaspora youth as co-researchers (ARC DE230100249). This research uses decolonial participatory action research approaches to examine understandings and experiences of belonging, particularly in schools, for African diaspora youth. In addition, we will reflect on possibilities for collaborative exploration with Black African diaspora PhD candidates and youth co-researchers. 


Seminar Four: Intersections of class and ethnicity: revisiting Asian educational achievement in Australian schools

When: Tuesday 19 September 12-1.00pm (AEST)

Quentin Maire, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne
Christina Ho, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Technology Sydney

The colour line of educational success is a recurring issue in Australian public discourse, and it has received increased academic attention. In particular, a range of explanations have been offered for the comparative educational success of Asian Australians. Arguments regularly appeal to the culturally distinctive educational dispositions and practices of Asian migrant families to explain this pattern. In this paper, we argue that a more systematic consideration of the intersection of social class and ethnicity helps develop more robust analyses of the educational trajectories of Asian Australians. We argue that taking class seriously helps overcome the limitations of explanations resorting to coarse and homogenising racial categories and to cultural essentialism. To examine the intersections of class and ethnicity among Asian Australians, we use survey data from successive cohorts of Australian high school students. The results highlight the diversity of educational outcomes and experiences among Asian Australians. We conclude by arguing that future research on Asian families’ educational practices in Australia would benefit from exploring migration trajectories more dynamically, i.e. from the point of view of class positions and cultures of origin and destination.  


Seminar Five: Pressure to attend university and the changing job market: Beyond narrow conceptions of pathways to a ‘good life’

When: Wednesday 18 October 12-1.00pm (AEST)

Sally Patfield, University of Newcastle
Kristina Sincock, University of Newcastle
Leanne Fray, University of Newcastle

Securing stable and well-paid employment has become increasingly difficult world-wide. In recent years, job insecurity has been further exacerbated by new global economic challenges. Particularly since the 2008 financial crisis, traditional full-time permanent positions of employment have given way to casual, part-time, or temporary work globally. This transition has had broad repercussions for young people, including generating impediments to first-time home ownership, with implications for marriage, family formation and social mobility. Concerned about current prospects for youth, we extended a study on school student aspirations by re-interviewing 21 young people about their educational and career outcomes and aspirations since leaving school one-to-five years prior. Questions focused on how participants are navigating their post-school transition into further study or employment. The interviews were thematically coded using a combination of inductive and deductive logic, with the analysis aimed at determining key equity issues that impacted participants’ ability to realise their educational and occupational aspirations. Results demonstrated a range of factors that impacted the participants’ trajectories, with the overwhelming pressure to attend university, the impact of mental ill-health, and the impact of COVID-19 on universities most prevalent. In this paper, we report on the former of these themes in detail. We found that these participants experienced immense pressure from their families, teachers, and communities to attend university, even if career aspirations did not require a degree. They spoke of being repeatedly told that university is key to securing the ‘good life’ and of other post-school pathways being derided. Concerningly, many of these participants faced uneven, fractured and sometimes difficult pathways through university, with a change of degree a common occurrence. This contrasted markedly with their peers who pursued vocational education, who spoke of more secure pathways and post-study jobs. Given evidence elsewhere that up to a third of students who enrol in university do not graduate and data showing that many young people with professional degrees struggle to find permanent work, we argue that the pressure on youth to attend university risks creating a generation disillusioned by false promises.