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Social mixing in neighbourhood and school? The role of parental choice strategies for the development of school segregation
Client:German Research Foundation (DFG)
Partner(s):Prof. Dr. Andreas Farwick (Ruhr University Bochum/ Institute of Geography); Dr. Isabel Ramos Lobato (University of Helsinki/ Faculty of Sciences, Department of Geosciences and Geography, Finland)
Time frame:11/2020 – 12/2023

The main aim of this research project is the theoretically based, systematic analysis of the interrelationship between residential and school segregation. In light of the so far small number of existing empirical research on school segregation in Germany, the project seeks to examine parental school choice practices by combining quantitative and qualitative empirical data. Starting point is the aggravation of socio-spatial polarization in German and other European cities – not only on the neighbourhood level but also on a smaller spatial scale, particularly in educational organisations. Even in childcare centres and primary schools, a quite high level of social and ethnic segregation becomes visible – not only in segregated but also in mixed neighbourhoods illustrating the high significance of this topic. Consequently, a better understanding of the relationship between the composition of urban neighbourhoods and primary schools is needed. The question arises how a more heterogeneous composition of primary schools can be promoted – in particular in socially and ethnically mixed neighbourhoods where the spatial requirements for a more balanced school composition are given.

Within the case study neighbourhood, the interplay of individual characteristics, (local) information sources, parental networks, and the development of primary school profiles and information policies as well as its impact on parental school choice practices is analysed. For the first time in the German context, quantitative and qualitative empirical data is captured and combined in one spatial setting. The project’s mixed-methods design allows not only to illustrate the extent and development of parents’ primary school choice strategies and school segregation but also to scrutinize the underlying motivations and considerations more in-depth. The project focuses on four central thematic areas: 1. processes and patterns of residential and school segregation, 2. individual determinants of school choice; 3. role of parental networks and 4. role of primary schools.

Based on the explanation of structures and determinants of social and ethnic segregation in German primary schools, the project’s aim is to contribute to the existing geographical research on segregation and socio-spatial inequalities as well as to decisive progress in research on the geography of education (in Germany).


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