Journal article
Adaptivity or conformity? The relevance of the reference group and of children's actual achievement for the development of parents' educational aspirations at the end of elementary schooling

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Stocké, V.
Springer Science Business Media
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Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft
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This article examines the factors determining parents' educational aspirations for their children at the end of elementary schooling and development of those aspirations over time. It analyzes the relative importance of the children's academic achievement and the perceived educational aspirations of the parents' reference group. Further, it tests the hypothesis that the impact of these factors differs depending on the parents' social status. The research draws on data from the Mannheim Educational Panel Study (N = 819). The results show that higher parental educational and occupational status is associated with the development of more ambitious educational aspirations. To some extent, this development is the result of aspirations being adapted to the children's actual academic achievement. In line with our expectations, this process of adaptation is more pronounced in parents with lower social status. However, parents also adapt their aspirations to those of the reference group. Contrary to theoretical expectations, this conformity is also stronger in families from less privileged social strata. Much of the social differentiation in the development of parental aspirations at the end of elementary schooling is attributable to differences in student learning progress, to the aspirational climate of a family's social network, and to the selective receptivity of social groups to these factors.

educational aspirations, reference group, social inequality, tracking decisions


Last updated on 2019-25-07 at 11:09