This thesis investigates the social phenomenon of the construction and evolution of realistic educational aspirations among high school graduates during the eight-year period preceding graduation. Its aim is to determine which factors most affect realistic educational aspirations in the light of two sociological concepts of major importance in the field of education: Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of habitus and Raymond Boudon’s concept of rationality. In short, this thesis explores the manner in which factors linked to educational experience (the baseline for rational calculating) and to socio-cultural heritage (habitus) may affect the construction of so-called realistic educational aspirations and their evolution.
The construction and evolution of realistic educational aspirations are dependent on both cultural legacy and recent educational experience.
The analysis was carried out in two distinct stages. The first consisted of a logistic regression analysis using cross-sectional data drawn from the Youth in Transition Survey (YITS). The aim of this analysis was to identify the main factors that enter into consideration during the construction of educational aspirations for Canadian students approaching high school graduation. The second analysis, also using YITS data, examined this phenomenon from a longitudinal perspective in order to identify which factors affect aspirations throughout Canadian students’ educational experience. This was done using generalized estimating equations (GEE) regression.
The results suggest that students do use rational calculation when constructing and adjusting realistic educational aspirations, but also that this calculation is highly influenced by the habitus, especially by the parents’ education level (institutionalized cultural capital). Moreover, the students’ calculation proved to be significantly influenced by the self-reported overall high school average and additional grades in the first years of postsecondary studies. Consequently, it can be asserted that the construction and evolution of realistic educational aspirations are dependent on both cultural legacy and recent educational experience, conceptualized under “rationalization habitus”.
Main researcher: Maxime Marcoux-Moisan, Université du Québec à Montréal
Original title: Variation des aspirations scolaires