Utbildningssegregation och självsortering. Om gymnasieval, genus och lokala praktiker.

Anna Sandell

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


This thesis explores and analyzes segregation and self-sorting in education. It aims at discussing how this relates to gender, individualization and young men and women's positionings in local practices, through choices of upper secondary school education. It focuses on how young men and women cope with and adapt to the changing society in late modernity.

The thesis is based on three empirical studies as well as national and local statistics. Observations in a natural science programme class at upper secondary school, interviews with study and vocational counsellors and statistics made the foundation for an interview study with 35 ninth graders about to make their choice of upper secondary school education in a middle-sized city with tradition of labour work. Statistics show a clear segregation among girls and boys at upper secondary school, especially when differentiated by class, geography, and to some extent ethnicity. The segregation continues on higher levels of education and then on to the labour market. This challenges political goals, both in gender equality and in education. It also challenges the late modernity demand for individualization. Theoretically this is explored with Bourdieu's concepts of habitus and capital as well as with late modernity concepts of cultural release, individualization, agency and positioning. Gender is explored by Harding's model for analyzing the gender order.

The interview study shows that both girls and boys distance themselves rhetorically from what is traditionally considered female. Both female domains and behaviour are lowly ranked. Girls? strategy is to choose gender neutral marked programmes. They experience restrictions on basis of their gender, and want to use education as a means to break gender patterns. The boys? also positioned themselves, but to a higher extent to avoid divergence from the hegemonic masculinity. These differences could not be seen in the observation study, which is interpreted as a result of the self-sorting young people do in relation to their gender and class.

The conclusion is that the place encourages girls and boys to act differently. The relation between structures and agency differs. Girls are, in the interview study, encouraged to have a broader perspective on education, future professions, moving and so on. Their future can also be looked for outside the place and the positionings they now possess. Boys are encouraged to have a narrower perspective on the same phenomenons. The place also enables for the boys to stay to a higher extent than for the girls. The boys have, for example, a local labour market that corresponds to their choices.

It is suggested that agency should be better supported in school. The pupils themselves stressed the importance of getting alternative experiences, for example through the work experience programme. It is also of importance that teachers encourage pupils to make changes in positions. The counsellors stressed the importance of doing outreached work and find pupils that do not voluntarily come to counselling. Through counselling, the pupils can be given tools for opening alternative ways. The gender marking of programmes could be loosened by introducing branches that attract the opposite gender. The naming of the programmes should also be under consideration. New technology and computers as means to enable changes in positionings are discussed.
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
  • Education
  • Tallberg-Broman, Ingegerd, Supervisor, External person
Award date2007 Apr 27
Print ISBNs978-91-976537-3-2
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Bibliographical note

Defence details

Date: 2007-04-27
Time: 10:15
Place: Lärarutbildningen, Malmö högskola, sal D 138

External reviewer(s)

Name: Öhrn, Elisabeth
Title: Prof.
Affiliation: Högskolan i Borås, Institutionen för pedagogik


Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Educational Sciences
  • Pedagogy


  • Pedagogy and didactics
  • gymnasieskolan
  • självsortering
  • segregation
  • lokala praktiker
  • genus
  • senmodernitet
  • Pedagogik
  • didaktik

Cite this