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On the theoretical-methodological aspects of studying the influence of professional education on social stratification

Ekaterina S. Popova, Candidate of Sociology leading researcher, , PhD in Sociology,, Leading Researcher, Institute of Sociology FCTAS RAS, Moscow, Russia
On the theoretical-methodological aspects of studying the influence of professional education on social stratification.
Vestnik instituta sotziologii. 2020. Vol. 11. No. 3. P. 14-27

Дата поступления статьи: 01.09.2020
This Article is downloaded: 255 times
Topic: Youth Sociology: Education, and the Vision of the Future

For citation:
Popova E. S.. On the theoretical-methodological aspects of studying the influence of professional education on social stratification. Vestnik instituta sotziologii. 2020. Vol. 11. No. 3. P. 14-27


This article presents an attempt to define the framework and the possible guidelines for analyzing the influence of professional education on social stratification given the current conditions of social reality.

The author points out that the structural changes in all social institutions (including professional education and the labor market), the fluidity and dynamism of modern social reality, and conserving a dichotomy of fluidity when speaking of the Russian context – rigidity, the expansion and inflation of professional education combined with the preservation of inequality when it comes to implementing educational trajectories – all of this makes studying the connection between social stratification, professional education and social mobility ever the more relevant.

Researchers face the following acute questions: what sort of role is played by professional education in promoting or restricting an individual’s social mobility? How has the expansion and inflation of education redefined the selection and allocation of human capital? In which way does the connection change between social stratification, professional education and social mobility, what are the foundations, the sociological study tradition and the theoretical-methodological prospects for the future?

In order to find answers, the author examines both traditional theoretical-methodological approaches, and ones that are new to sociology of education.

The article substantiates the notion that structural-functional theory does not possess a comprehensive explanatory potential in the study of the socio-structural role of professional education in regards to social mobility. The author substantiates the following thesis from a conflict analysis standpoint: democratizing access to professional education does not mean the reduction of class inequality or the emergence of a society of equal opportunity. Within the paradigm of an activity-related approach in sociology of education, where education is viewed not just as a separate social institution, but as part of a larger system of social action and social inequality, the definitive role of motivation and proactiveness is emphasized, with them producing a positive effect when it comes to attaining higher professional status.

The accelerating rate of change in society, the multidimensionality and polyvariance in implementing educational and professional trajectories in modern society indicate the need for a multidimensional evaluation of social mobility. In regards to the topic of education, and when it comes to analyzing the implementation of educational trajectories, professional education represents a vital condition and a necessary prerequisite for an individual to exercise social mobility both in terms of objective and subjective coordinates of mobility, and in regards to research methods and methodology, this demands synthesizing quantitative and qualitative research strategies, and, consequently, opens up new opportunities for interpreting results and perceiving social reality.


sociology, social stratification, professional education, social mobility, education, labour market


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