Sociology of education

The SSA Sociology of Education Research Network advocates the sociological analysis of the cultural, socio-structural, historical, institutional/organisational, political and economic context of educational processes and states on individual, institutional and societal levels in Switzerland and beyond. Thereby, education (éducation, Bildung) can be regarded both as the explanans or the explanandum of social relations, facts and problems.

On a macro, societal level the interest lies in the contribution of education to society (stability, inequality), on the dynamic and linkage between different social systems (above all between education, family and labour market/economy), on the social value of education (e.g. status-attainment/allocation), on the role of the state to provide education and on the social change. On a meso level the functioning and change of educational organisations as well as the educational profession are scrutinised (e.g., curricula, recruiting and channelling, cultures, professionalisation). On a micro level social interactions between teachers, learners, parents and headmasters, their decision-making and the contribution of education for strengthening individual autonomy are looked at.

The field of education spans a broad variety of educational processes and states in informal settings (family, peer group, leisure, workplace), formal settings (preschool, primary school, lower and upper – both general and vocational – secondary education, tertiary education, tertiary level professional education and training, further education and adult education), and non-formal, extracurricular settings (e.g. youth work, private teaching, commercial education offers).

The analysis of educational processes includes individual learning processes and pathways embedded in familial, regional, national or international opportunity structures. At an institutional level, educational processes also include the making of curriculums and the implementation of educational policies and reforms on local, regional, national and transnational levels. Educational actors and decision makers can be individual, corporate or institutional/organisational (individuals, groups, organisations, institutions, states).

As a state, education can be perceived in different embodied, institutionalised and symbolic forms of intended or unintended nature (such as cultural capital, knowledge, know-how, skills, competence, qualification, certificates, educational levels etc.).

The Sociology of Education Research Network welcomes comprehensive analysis of educational processes and states in the context of social relations and inequality (by gender, ethnicity, class, age etc.), taking into account intersectionalities, social and institutional change and local or international variability. It relates the analysis of educational processes to the logics of different contexts and discourses (educational markets, achievement-oriented education, educational communities, efficient educational organisations, civil society etc.). Processes and outcomes of the education system may also be related to the access to resources, power and status in other systems such as the economic system (especially the labour market) or the civil society.

The Sociology of Education Research Network aims at stimulating and organising scientific exchange – both disciplinary and interdisciplinary – in the area of education. It particularly supports the promotion of young scientists in the field of educational sociology.

The network strengthens the development and visibility of sociological perspectives and theory building in the field of educational research. Bound to sociology, it promotes the theoretical and empirical description and analysis of educational processes in different, more or less institutionalised social contexts. It respects the plurality of methodologies and avoids a dominant theoretical or methodological paradigm.

To demonstrate the relevance of contexts for educational processes and outcomes, the network encourages comparative analysis of different temporal, spatial, organisational and international contexts. It takes the advantage of Switzerland’s federal setting of different educational policies and education systems to promote comparative research and theory building of international significance in educational sociology.

To encourage the plurality of theoretical and methodological approaches within the field of educational sociology, the network aims at representing and connecting scholars of the different (language) regions of Switzerland. Thus, it accommodates disciplinary traditions and developments in the French-, German- and Italian-speaking fields as well as in the Anglo-Saxon field of educational sociology. To enable countrywide communication and exchange within Switzerland, English (together with French and German, when appropriate), serves as a main language within the network. Beyond national activities, the network aims for international exchange.

The network promotes sociological exchange and discussions on a national and international level through

  • workshops and conferences
  • cooperation in research and joint publications
  • teaching
  • other forms of academic exchange (e.g. newsletter, online channels and discussions)

There are no formal barriers or requirements to join the network. Active participation however is welcome. If you are interested to join please contact the coordinating board.

  • 2022, University of Teacher Education, FHNW|University of Basel: “Educational institutions in Switzerland and their paradoxical contribution to social cohesion and disintegration” (Organizers: Regula Julia Leemann (FHNW), Elena Makarova (University of Basel)). [Link auf Conference Program]
  • 2020, University of Bern|PH Bern: “Heterogeneity and Inequality – Differentiation in Education and Consequences for Educational Inequalities” (Organizers: David Glauser (University of Bern), Caroline Sahli Lozano (PHBern), Mathias Mejeh (University of Bern)). Conference-webpage:
  • 2018, hep Lausanne: “When the Sociology of Education meets the world of work” (Organizers: Barbara Duc (SFIVET Renens), Kerstin Duemmler (SFIVET Renens), Héloïse Durler (HEP Vaud), Philippe Losego (HEP Vaud)) [Flyer] [CFP] [Programme and Abstracts]
  • 2016, PH Zurich: “Sociological Perspectives on Education” (Organizers: Christoph Mäder (PHZH, Alex Knoll (PHZH), Christian Imdorf (UniBE))
  • 2014, HEP|PH Fribourg: “Sociological Perspectives in Research on Education in Switzerland” (Organizers: Christian Imdorf, Carmen Zurbriggen, Alex Knoll, Hugo Hanbury, Daniel Hofstetter)

David Glauser (University of Berne)

Irene Kriesi (Swiss Federal university for Vocational Education and Training SFUVET)

Gaële Goastellec (University of Lausanne)

Kerstin Duemmler (Swiss Federal university for Vocational Education and Training SFUVET)

Mario Steinberg (University of Basel and Zürich University of Teacher Education)

Former members of the coordination board:

Barbara Fouquet-Chauprade (University of Geneva)

Chantal Hinni (University of Freiburg)

Philippe Losego (Vaud University of Teacher Education)

Farinaz Fassa (University of Lausanne)

Christian Imdorf (Leibniz University of Hannover)

Carmen Zurbriggen (University of Luxemburg)

Contact for general inquiries:

Contact for newsletter contributions: Fanny Marila Klaffke or