Social Mobility in Argentina. An Inquiry into the Educational System

Master's Thesis, 2015

93 Pages, Grade: 12/A


Social Mobility in Argentina
­ An Inquiry to the Educational System
M. Nicolas Jacobsen
Page 1 of 92
The purpose of this thesis has been to investigate the role of the Argentinean Educational System
and its relation with the degree of social mobility in the country. Considering on one side, that
education is free for everyone in Argentina, but on the other side, that the levels of attainment of
higher education are so low, this thesis aims to explore the role of education, and more specific
the functioning of the Educational System in order to highlight its impact on the degree of social
mobility. Furthermore, the thesis analyzes the consequences of the observed levels of poverty and
inequality, as well as how the pedagogies implemented in the Educational System affect its
The thesis examines the socioeconomic and sociopolitical historical events that have influenced on
the structure and the functioning of the Educational System, as well as the current situation of the
country and the future perspectives. Moreover, the thesis analyzes the determinant factors that
have influenced in the decision of a small number of people regarding higher education. Analyzing
these aspects, the thesis highlights to which extent the Educational System is reproducing the
same social structure or it is able to change that, avoiding the perpetuation of poverty and
The theo eti al f a e o k fou ded o Bou dieu's theory of social reproduction, and its main
concepts of habitus, field, capitals, and symbolic violence, made possible to analyze both the
structure and the functioning of the Educational System on one side
, a d the i di iduals'
motivation toward higher education on the other side, providing a comprehensive picture of how
the E", the i di iduals' a kg ou d, a d the interaction between them determine the degree of
social mobility.
The thesis arrives to the conclusion that the Educational System plays a very relevant role on the
degree of social mobility, and that the socioeconomic and sociopolitical contexts can conceal or
exhibit the truth behind the common perception about that role.
Key words: Habitus, Different Capitals, Field, Symbolic Violence, Education, Educational System.

Social Mobility in Argentina
­ An Inquiry to the Educational System
M. Nicolas Jacobsen
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This thesis represents the culmination of a stage in a very long journey that continues ahead into
an unknown future. A journey longer than the two years this master program has taken. A
journey, which does not have a clear start date, because when I think about it, I do not really know
when it exactly began. I do not know if it was the day I was born, the day I started at school, the
day I graduated from secondary school. I guess that the most appropriate answer will be the day I
decided that I wanted to go to Denmark. But then, when was it exactly? Because as far as I
remember, I was only a little boy when I told my mother that one day when I was grown, I would
go to the town where my grandparents were from. Then, I guess again that the best possible
answer I can give is the day I arrived to Denmark; September 24, 2003.
When I lived in Argentina in a small farm, and I graduated from secondary school in 1997, my
parents could not afford to send me to a big city in order to study at the university. Therefore, I
just remained back there and started to work in the farm with the purpose of saving money to
travel to Denmark. That had been my dream since I was a little boy; go to Denmark to explore
where my ancestors were from, learn the language, learn to know the country, the culture.
I indeed managed to achieve my purpose. The 24
of September of 2003 at the age of 23 years, I
put my feet on the Danish soil. It was the first time in my life I was abroad, the first time I was so
far away from my home, and to some extent, the first time I really was on my own. At that time, I
could not speak other languages than my mother tongue, but I still managed to buy a ticket for the
train from Kastrup Airport to Aalborg, where an uncle, I only had seen 4 times before during his
visits to Argentina, was waiting for me at the train station; I still remember that night.
Since that day, my life has certainly not been the same as if I had chosen to remain in Argentina
and never have followed my dream to satisfy my curiosity for knowing. I had to learn the Danish
language in order to insert myself in the society and better understand the culture. How could you
eall get the esse e of the ea i g of the o d h gge if you do not speak/understand
Danish? You can translate the word, but not the meaning. From the beginning, I worked in
whatever I could to provide for myself and studied other languages, economics, and other relevant
subjects at the same time. I had to learn English in order to be admitted in a bachelor study. I got

Social Mobility in Argentina
­ An Inquiry to the Educational System
M. Nicolas Jacobsen
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the opportunity to travel, to visit and live in other countries around three continents. All of them
have given me valuables and wonderful experiences, but it was my trip to Tanzania, during the last
semester of my bachelor in International Trade & Marketing Management, the one that really
changed my mind. I discovered that I was not a seller at all. I could not take advantage of the need
that people had. I would rather offer a solution. That is how I ended doing this master degree in
Development and International Relations, and for obvious reasons following the stream of Latin
American Studies.
I experienced the misfortune of losing my mother just before Christmas last year. During my stay
in my hometown under those circumstances, I talked with a man, who told me
el a u i ie to se
u a o la u iosidad, pe o la u iosidad o tie e u a , which can be translated as following:
boredom can be cured with curiosity, but curiosity has no cure
We are the consequence of our choices together with the influence of external factors upon
ourselves during determined circumstances. I could have chosen to stay in Argentina and today I
probably would have been one more example of the many persons I met and interviewed one
month ago, or maybe not. However, I chose another way, which led me to where I am today.
I am where I am today thanks to my tenacity to follow my dreams, my conviction that with effort
everything is possible, and my need to satisfy my curiosity. All what I needed was an opportunity.
It is thanks to my curiosity, my wonder that this thesis has been written within the chosen topic.
Finally, regardless of when this long journey started, many people have taken part in it, in one or
another way, or at least they have always been present in my mind. My family for example, my
own family, because with the passage of the time I got married and I got two sons. My parents and
my brothers back in Argentina, friends both here and there, professors, etc. For their patience,
their support, and their comments and contributions, as well as the guidance of Óscar, my
supervisor, each and every one of them deserve my candidly gratefulness.
M. Nicolás Jacobsen

Social Mobility in Argentina
­ An Inquiry to the Educational System
M. Nicolas Jacobsen
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Table of Contents
Abstract ... 1
Acknowledgments ... 2
Table of Contents ... 4
List of Abbreviations ... 6
Section 1
­ Introduction to the Thesis ... 7
Introduction ... 7
Problem Formulation ... 9
Aim of the Thesis ... 10
Section 2- Methodological Approach ... 11
Structure of the Project ... 11
Choice of Topic ... 12
Research Design ... 12
Methods ... 13
Sources ... 15
Theoretical Choice ... 17
Limitations and Scope... 17
Definition of Key Concepts ... 18
Section 3
­ Theoretical Frame ... 21
Introduction ... 21
The concept of Habitus ... 23
The concept of Field ... 24
Different concepts of Capital ... 25
Theoretical Reflection ... 27
Section 4
­ Analysis ... 29
Contextual Background ... 29
General Introduction to the Country ... 29
History of Education in Argentina ... 32
The Educational System & Social Mobility ... 37
The Periods of Social Mobility ... 37

Social Mobility in Argentina
­ An Inquiry to the Educational System
M. Nicolas Jacobsen
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Current Socioeconomic Aspects ... 42
The Structure of the Educational System ... 44
Different Ideal of Man, Same Pedagogical Model ... 52
F o the I di idual's Pe spe ti e ... 58
Individual Stories ... 58
Habitus & Accumulation of Capitals ... 65
Section 5
­ Conclusions ... 72
Empirical Findings ... 72
Answering the Problem Formulation ... 75
Future Research ... 76
Final Consideration ... 76
Bibliography ... 78
Books & Academic Journals ... 78
Other Sources ... 80
Appendices ... 83
Appendix A: The Location of San Cayetano in Relation to the Universities of the Region ... 83
Appendix B: Structure of the Argentinean Educational System ... 84
Appendix C: Geographical Coverage of Initial Education ... 85
Appendix D: Geographical Coverage of Primary Education ... 86
Appendix E: Geographical Coverage of Secondary Education ... 87
Appendix F: Geographical Coverage of Tertiary Education ... 88
Appendix G: Public Expenditure on Education, % of GDP ... 89
Appendix H: Government Expenditure per Student in PPP$ for Primary, Secondary and Tertiary
Education ... 90
Appendix I: The Evolution of Tertiary Education Enrollment in Argentina ... 91
Appendix J: Net Enrollment Rate by Quintile ... 92

Social Mobility in Argentina
­ An Inquiry to the Educational System
M. Nicolas Jacobsen
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List of Abbreviations
­ Canasta Básica Alimentaria [Basic Food Basket]
­ Canasta Básica Total [Basic Total Basket]
CIPPEC - Centro de Implementación de Políticas Públicas para la Equidad y el Crecimiento
[Center for the Implementation of Public Policies promoting Equity and Growth]
­ Educational System
­ Gross Domestic Product
­ Human Capital
­ Human Capital Index
­ Human Development Index
­ Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos [National Statistics and Census Institute]
­ Import Substitution Industrialization
LEF 2005
­ Law of Educational Financing of 2005
LFE 1993
­ Law of Federal Education of 1993
LHE 1995
­ Law of Higher Education of 1995
NLE 2006
­ National Law of Education of 2006
­ Programme for International Student Assessment
­ Purchasing Power Parity
­ United Kingdom
­ The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization
­ United States

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­ An Inquiry to the Educational System
M. Nicolas Jacobsen
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1. Section 1
­ Introduction to the Thesis
This section of the thesis contains the main introduction to the topic and the issue at hand,
followed by the hypothesis and research question presented in the problem formulation as well as
a brief explanation of the purpose of the thesis.
The ost alua le of all apital is that i ested i hu a ei gs.
Alfred Marshall, Principles of economics.
According to studies about social mobility, it is claimed that there is a strong connection between
the levels of inequality & poverty and the degree of social mobility. Furthermore, it is also claimed
a close association between the degree of educational attainment as well as the level of education
attained and the level of inequality & poverty. Finally, there is also claimed a correlation between
education and the degree of social mobility. Considering that there is a close interrelation
between these three elements, the Educational System (ES) of a given country becomes a
significant component of its society, as a provider of education, due to its influence on the degree
of social mobility and the level of inequality and poverty.
In 1884, the Argentinean Congress approved the Law of Common Education
­ Law 1420. This law
represented a basal stone in the building process of the national ES, establishing its obligatory,
state, lay, and free character. Therefore, since the Argentinean ES has been established for more
than hundred years, it will be interesting to investigate its role in the society, considering the
above mentioned, and the levels of inequality and poverty that the country presents.
Today, the Argentinean Constitution preserves the right to educate and learn to all the inhabitants
in the country, ensures equal opportunities and possibilities without any discrimination, and
guarantees the principles of free and equitable state public education. Nevertheless, these rights
and principles, without having character of specific law like the Law 1420, began already in the
century to be embodied in the Argentinean Constitution promulgated in 1853. They
reflected then the importance attributed to having a universal ES that could contribute to the

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­ An Inquiry to the Educational System
M. Nicolas Jacobsen
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progress of enlightenment of the newborn nation; enlightenment capable of providing the
beneficial being for the prosperity of the country. Then, continuing on that line, it could be
claimed that the role of the Argentinean ES as an entity envisioned to and capable of offering
access to education despite the socioeconomic differences among the population has been, since
the beginning, to encourage social mobility.
As mentioned in the beginning, besides education, poverty and inequality are also connected to
the degree of social mobility. When looking at the index of inequality, GINI index, based on income
distribution, Argentina had in 2011 a coefficient of 43.6 points being placed as number 45 as most
unequal country out of 174 measured countries in the world ranking, and faraway of the most
equal countries, like the Nordic countries with coefficients between 25 to 28 points. Additionally,
Argentina presents high levels of poverty. According to some measures conducted by private
agencies, the poverty rate by the end of 2014 was around 25%, and the indigence rate around 10%
of the population.
Now, having in mind the mentioned above, and assuming that the ES can contribute to reduce
poverty and inequality, the purpose of this thesis is to inquire into the role of the Argentinean ES,
as an entity envisioned to and capable of encouraging social mobility, by examining its structure
a d fu tio i g as ell as i di iduals' o oti atio i elation to achieving an education.

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­ An Inquiry to the Educational System
M. Nicolas Jacobsen
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1.2.Problem Formulation
It is difficult to distinguish whether poverty engenders inequality, or it goes the other way around.
However, both of them can exercise an indirect impact (through the ES) on social mobility, which
on the contrary, can exercise a direct influence on the first ones. Thus, the degree of social
mobility will depend on the outcome of the ES resulting in either mobility or stagnation and even
perpetuation of individuals in the different social strata. Following this argument, the ES can (in
theory) contribute to reduce inequality and poverty on a long-term perspective subjected to the
fact that they also affect the input poured into the ES.
Then, based on the claim that the role of the Argentinean ES as an entity envisioned to and
capable of offering free access to education
fo all the ou t 's i ha ita ts, despite
socioeconomic differences, in all the levels (initial, primary, secondary and tertiary) has been to
encourage social mobility; and considering the levels of inequality and poverty observed in the
country, it is relevant to pose the following research question:
To which extent does the educational system encourage or hinder social mobility
in Argentina?
In order to answer the problem statement raised in this thesis, the following sub-research
questions are considered:
Considering that education is free for everyone, that the completion of the primary level is
very high, the completion of secondary level is moderately high, and that the enrolment
rate at the tertiary level is also relatively high, why is its attainment so low?
Which considerations do people take into account when considering whether they will
continue studying or not, and which role plays their background in these considerations?
These sub-research questions are linked together supporting the objective of the problem
statement in revealing the influence of the ES upon social mobility.
In order to conduct this research, the theoretical framework is
o stituted Bou dieu's Theory of
Social Reproduction emphasizing on the concepts of habitus, field, and his different capitals.

Social Mobility in Argentina
­ An Inquiry to the Educational System
M. Nicolas Jacobsen
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1.3.Aim of the Thesis
The aim of this thesis, as briefly mentioned in the introduction, is to make an inquiry into the role
of the Argentinean ES, whose output founds the society, which at the same time fosters the input
that nurtures the ES. Considering that education, as a means to facilitate social mobility, is
hypothetically thought to contribute in reducing inequality and poverty, this thesis will try to
reveal whether this is the case in Argentina, considering the high levels of inequality and poverty,
by examining the structure and functioning of the ES
as ell as i di iduals' o opinion and
motivation in relation to attending to an educational institution in order to attain a higher

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­ An Inquiry to the Educational System
M. Nicolas Jacobsen
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2. Section 2- Methodological Approach
In this section, the reader will find all the methodological considerations I have concerned about.
From the motives to choose this specific topic to the limitations I have faced along with the
selection of a proper research design and methods in order to carry out the investigation
effectively. Furthermore, the selection of a suitable theoretical framework and the explanation of
key concepts in order to avoid misunderstandings, as well as perhaps the most critical one of
picking the sources.
Structure of the Project
The project is structured in the following way: after the introduction and problem formulation
with its hypothesis and research question already presented, the methodological approach and
the theory section, where the different considerations and research methods as well as the
applied theories will be presented and explained. Afterwards, background information will be
provided in order to familiarize the reader with the context, followed by the analysis of the
primary and secondary data. Finally, the reader will arrive to the conclusions and final

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­ An Inquiry to the Educational System
M. Nicolas Jacobsen
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2.2.Choice of Topic
I will not deny that my personal background has had a great influence in choosing this topic. I have
always been interested in topics like social inequality and poverty, and I have wondered about
how can be possible that such issues have been a part of the Argentinean reality since I can
remember, considering the richness of the country. But most of all, I have always been concerned
about what can be done I order to solve this issues. By looking at some of the so-called developed
countries, measured by economic performance, one thing that becomes peculiar to me is the fact
that not all of the top-placed countries are endowed in the same way as Argentina does, at least in
terms of natural features. However, most of them have one thing in common; they are also placed
at the top of the Human Capital Index (HCI). Therefore, I must assume that the investment and
development of human capital in these countries must be a crucial explanatory factor for their
performance. That is why education as a means to improve social mobility with the purpose of
reducing poverty and inequality became the topic of this thesis.
2.3.Research Design
As I already have mentioned in the previous chapter the topic of this thesis, is how social mobility
can be improved through education and consequently contribute to reduce poverty and
inequality. In order to select a proper research design for this investigation, the work of Alan
Bryman (2012) has been used as guideline. The chosen design for this thesis is the Case Study
design. The case in this occasion is a group of 11 persons in the age between 22 and 39 living in a
small town called San Cayetano (8.000 inhabitants) in the middle of an agrarian region of the
pampas in the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Moreover, it is a case of people that in spite of
having the possibility to continue studying at the tertiary level chose not to do that and ended
working as unskilled workers in their environment of origin. The reason for choosing this town,
besides of being my hometown, is because it is located relatively far away from university cities
(See Appendix A), which implies, for those interested in continue studying, that they have to move
from their family homes, as well as huge economic efforts. Furthermore, since the economic
activity of the town turns around the agricultural activity, the university culture is not common,
and the demand of very high-educated people is not significant, besides the basic demand of a
small society as doctors, dentists, lawyers, etc.

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­ An Inquiry to the Educational System
M. Nicolas Jacobsen
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I will analyze the reasons that have led them to make the decisions they have made regarding
tertiary level education. This case study has a character of critical and representative case or as
Bryman prefers to call it to avoid confusion, exemplifying case (Bryman 2012), since independently
of confirming or rejecting the hypothesis, the result obtained could be an illustration of similar
cases in the rest of the country as long as the social environment, the geographic, cultural and the
socioeconomic circumstances among other factors are also comparable to the chosen one.
Moreover, this thesis is characterized by the exploratory, the descriptive, and the explanatory
research methods at different stages and degree of involvement. However, the two most visible in
this paper are the descriptive and the explanatory, as the exploratory has mainly been part of
previous research, in the beginning of the process, about the connection between social mobility
and the ES.
The reason for looking at the topic from this angle is that the research done about social mobility
in Argentina until now focuses on factors like income inequality, fertility rate (especially among
poor people) investment in human capital (HC) and educational level. Notwithstanding, even
though they touch issues like HC and education, the research done takes these factors as merely
independent variables in relation to the degree of social mobility in society. However, no critical
question is raised to whether the ES is encouraging or hindering social mobility. It seems to be
taken for granted just because the ES provides education, and education is understood as a means
to achieve social mobility. Therefore, those who do not attain an education are responsible for
their own choice and consequently their fate. But then again, no critical query is raised to the role
that the ES plays in encouraging or hindering social mobility.
In order to answer the problem formulation in an appropriate manner, this thesis includes both
quantitative and qualitative data making the research strategy based on combined methods.
While the quantitative data provides qualified information about socioeconomic and sociopolitical
factors of the country and the ES like levels of inequality, poverty, number of students, etc. that
can be used to compare with other countries or other periods, the qualitative data provides
ualified i fo atio a out the easo s a d o side atio s ehi d the i te ie ees' de isio
toward tertiary education. The quantitative data is based on information and statistics that mainly

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­ An Inquiry to the Educational System
M. Nicolas Jacobsen
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builds up the chapters about the background of the country, history of education, as well as a part
of the analysis in Section 4. The qualitative data is based on the data collected through the
interviews conducted and is presented and analyzed also in the Section 4 of this thesis. The
emphasis is placed on the qualitative data, since the information gathered through the interviews
highlights pe so al aspe ts of the i di iduals' oti atio s, hi h a e ot e ealed statistics.
Regarding the statistics included in this thesis, it is important to mention that in some cases the
statistical figures about a specific subject may differ depending on the source. However, it is also
essential that the reader remember that the different statistical figures have not been mixed and
compared to each other but have been used separately to highlight different aspects of the matter
at hand.
Fu the o e, I ha e hose to i ple e t a dedu ti e app oa h sta ti g f o Pie e Bou dieu's
Theory of Social Reproduction and its concepts of habitus, field, and different kind of capitals,
which applied to the analysis of the data provided by the interviewed persons, and the secondary
data gathered through other sources, will confirm or reject the hypothesis raised in the problem
Bou dieu's theo st esses o the ele a e att i uted to edu atio a d the E" i
relation to social reproduction. Moreover, in order to be able to analyze both social structures, as
it is the ES of Argentina
o o e side, a d i di iduals' eha io toward education on the other side;
I have chosen to apply a combination of two contrasting epistemological positions that each
reflects the macro and micro characteristics of the topic. For the first mentioned, I have chosen
positivism, which, connected to the quantitative data has an objective approach and is congruent
ith the dedu ti e app oa h, si e o e of its p i iples is that theo has the pu pose to
generate hypothesis that can be tested and a
llo s the e e pla atio s of la s to e assessed
(Bryman 2012). For the second mentioned, I have chosen interpretivism, which, associated with
the qualitative data has a subjective approach, and seems more suitable to analyze the data
obtained from the people I have interviewed. This is further explained later when the theoretical
choice (item 2.6) is presented and in the theory section (Section 3).
In order to collect data for this investigation I followed the work of Bryman (2012) as guideline. I
chose to conduct semi-structured interviews, giving then the interviewee the possibility to tell
openly about its experience with the secondary school and the reasons for its decision; either the

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­ An Inquiry to the Educational System
M. Nicolas Jacobsen
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person chose to remain in town or chose to continue studying but abandoned later. As I already
mentioned, by using semi-structured interviews I gave the participants the possibility to speak
from the heart, instead of asking them close-ended questions. However, I had in my head a clear
agenda about which information I wanted to obtain from them. Based on an interview guide I had
prepared in advance, I started asking them to tell me about their life after finishing the secondary
school. Then the conversation began. If they did not mentioned it by themselves, I led the
conversation in a specific direction by asking questions about their dreams/expectations to the
future; how was to go to school, if it made sense; what did their parents expect from them;
pa e ts' a d g a dpa e ts' educational and working background; their opinion about whether
education is an end or a means; the crucial factor that determined their decision regarding
continuing studies or not, etc. I selected the participants after the following criteria:
have finished the secondary school
have not attained a tertiary level education
belong to middle class
The reason for these criteria was that (despite secondary school has been mandatory in Argentina
since 2006) it has existed an unwritten rule about the compulsory nature of the secondary level,
which means that many young people (in general, but with exceptions) went to school because
their parents told them to do that, regardless of their will. Therefore, it is first at the tertiary level
he e people's o ill a d oti atio toward education can be observed. The reason for
looking after people who did not attained a tertiary level education was to find the motives that
led them to dismiss that possibility, considering, as already mentioned, the gratuity of education in
the country. The last criterion is related to the second one in the sense that, if the lack of
economic resources was not the reason for not continuing studying, then other causes may have
been present.
The sources used to this thesis are secondary data in a major degree and primary data in a minor
degree. The secondary data will be use on the macro level of the thesis in order to build up the
contextual background for this thesis as well as to support the analysis of the ES and social

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­ An Inquiry to the Educational System
M. Nicolas Jacobsen
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mobility, whereas the primary data will be use on the micro level of this thesis to analyze the
i di idual's de isio toward tertiary education.
The primary data used in the thesis is based on 11 interviews I conducted in San Cayetano, Buenos
Aires, Argentina. I interviewed 11 persons, who had finished the secondary school and afterwards,
either chose to remain in town instead of continuing studying on a tertiary level, or actually chose
to continue but abandoned the study after short time and returned to San Cayetano. The
information provided by these 11 persons is based on their own opinion, experience concerning
the ES and education, as well as the reasons that motivated their choice. The data gathered
through the interviews will be provided and attached to the paper in a pen drive.
The secondary data is mainly based on books, academic articles, and reports. Most of the books I
have chosen as source to this thesis have a character of academic research and therefore are
consider as valid source since they are clean of subjective opinions. However, some of them have
not the same character and therefore it is possible that the authors have had another agenda
edu i g the the eut alit of the ook's content. Regarding academic journals, they are
reviewed by other researches before publication and therefore are consider being reliable. This is
not the case of articles from newspapers, which are intended for sale and therefore have a specific
aim in the public debate. This is of particular relevance in the Argentinean context because the
two major national newspapers (La Nación and Clarín) are openly in opposition to the current
government; especially the second mentioned. However, the reason for why I have chosen to
include them as sources of information is that they provide statistical material, which is not
possible to find elsewhere, also considering the current situation regarding the national agency of
statistics (INDEC). The INDEC has been intervened by the government, which means that the data
provided by that organism differs very much compared to other sources. Therefore, considering
the situation, I find it relevant to present a wide spectrum of sources instead of be arbitrary and
choose some of them while excluding others. Moreover, material from official websites as well as
online databases is also included.

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­ An Inquiry to the Educational System
M. Nicolas Jacobsen
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2.6.Theoretical Choice
The theoretical framework for this thesis is founded in the French sociologist
Pie e Bou dieu's
Theory of Social Reproduction and its main concept of habitus, field and different capitals because
I consider they offer an explanatory basis in order to understand and determine the reasons that
an individual may have when deciding whether to study or not. The extraordinary emphasis laid
on education and the role of the ES in his theory will contribute to the analytical purpose of this
thesis. However, I am aware of the criticism that this theory has been subjected to due to its
universalistic approach as well as its old-fashioned character. Notwithstanding, I consider that the
theory provides the tools to analyze all the elements that this thesis has the purpose of inspect.
Furthermore, the combination and interaction of habitus and field tries to unify the antagonistic
subjective and objective approaches, which each of them focus on the agency and the structure
respectively. This is consistent with the methodology I have chosen combining positivism and
interpretivism as mentioned in Methods Chapter (item 2.4) in order to be able to analyze the
social structures, as it is the ES
of A ge ti a, o o e side, a d i di iduals' eha io toward
education on the other side.
While habitus applies to the
age t's capacity to act and therefore interpretivism appears more
appropriate to analyze its agency, field seems more suitable to analyze the social structures with
which the agent and its agency interact due to its objective approach. Regarding the different
concepts of capital, they are related to both habitus and field exercising a determinant impact.
Given that the individual and the social structures are in constant interaction influencing each
other, I find it reasonable to conduct the analysis following this methodology within the
mentioned theoretical framework.
2.7.Limitations and Scope
The limitations that have framed this research do not follow a sequence of priority. However, the
first ones I want to mention are geography and time/distance. Geography has been a relevant
limitation to consider due to the vast territory over which the Argentine Republic spreads. In order
to increase the level of representation (the exemplifying case, as mentioned in item 2.3) as well as
the reliability, the research and the interviews should have been conducted in different places

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­ An Inquiry to the Educational System
M. Nicolas Jacobsen
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around the country. However, as explained above, the geography combined with the time frame
and the distance to the target group, considering that I live in Denmark, did not allow me to
conduct a more extensive field research as I wished.
Another limitation is the combination of the above mentioned with the chosen research design. It
is difficult to make valid concluding generalizations when the case study is based on one single
geographical place. It is difficult to argue that the result obtained from one single case can apply to
the whole country. However, as I mentioned in the chapter about Research Design (item 2.3), the
result obtained could provide an indication of the countrywide circumstances as long as the social
environment, the geographic, cultural and the socioeconomic circumstances among other factors
are also comparable to the chosen place.
In order to make clear where the focus of this thesis is placed on, the investigation is delimitated
to explore, describe, and explain the causes that determine why an individual chooses to study
further or not. The delimitation concerns also the established structured under which the
Argentinean ES is built on and functions. By looking at these two aspects, the investigation should
provide an answer to the stated research question, clarifying whether the ES is able to inspire
people, who apparently do not have predisposition to get a higher education, or an eventual
reluctant predisposition toward education is maintained, affecting then the degree of social
mobility. Therefore, the focus of this project is not placed on external elements as for example
macroeconomic factors that might affect social mobility, despite I recognize that they may
influence to some extent, but in the contrary on internal ones, as explained above. However, the
fact that the aim of this thesis, is not to analyze macroeconomic factors in details, does not mean
that the relevance they have on social mobility will be completely ignored.
2.8.Definition of Key Concepts
The purpose and the reasons for defining key concepts is to provide the reader a clearer
understanding about how I comprehend and implement these concepts throughout the thesis in
order to avoid misinterpretations. Some of the concepts are defined according official definitions,
while others are defined by my own interpretation or application during the writing process.
Social mobility
is, a o di g to E
lopædia B ita i a, the o e e t of i di iduals, fa ilies, or

Social Mobility in Argentina
­ An Inquiry to the Educational System
M. Nicolas Jacobsen
Page 19 of 92
g oups th ough a s ste of so ial hie a h o st atifi atio Encyclopædia Britannica 2015). The
mobility can be horizontal when one changes occupation but remains in the same social strata or
vertical when the change implies a movement to other social strata. The later one can
furthermore be categorized as upward or downward mobility. Moreover, social mobility can occur
ea s he the ha ges happe ithi a pe so 's lifeti e, o
intergenerational, when the changes occur from one generation to another.
For the purpose of this thesis, when I mention social mobility in this paper, I will always be
referring to vertical, upward, intergenerational mobility unless otherwise is stated. This is due to
the purpose of the thesis, which focuses on education as a means to achieve upward mobility, and
since it normally occurs in a long-term perspective, the intergenerational side is the most relevant.
Social inequality is the unevenly distribution of resources in a given society. It can refer to the
uneven distribution of income, wealth, and material goods, which is defined as inequality of
conditions; or it can refer to the unequal access to education, health, etc., which is denominated
as inequality of opportunities ( 2015).
Both aspects of this definition fit well within the framework of this thesis and will be implemented
referring to it as one concept, and distinction between the two mentioned aspects will be made
only if needed in order to emphasize in a certain context. Moreover, for the purpose of
simplification, it will be referred just as inequality, unless a clarification of a specific inequality is
necessary in a certain context.
Poverty is in general the scarcity or the lack of a certain amount of material possessions or money
(Merriam-Webster 2015). However, the term is difficult to define precisely due to its multifaceted
aspect, since it includes economic, social, and political elements. Yet the concept can be
categorized or referred to in many ways like poverty, absolute poverty/extreme poverty also
called indigence and relative poverty. While relative poverty is a measure of the difference in
income among individuals or groups in a society without suffering any scarcity or lack, poverty and
indigence are on the opposite side.
In order to keep it simple and avoid confusion using similar terms, I am only going to refer to
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Social Mobility in Argentina. An Inquiry into the Educational System
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Habitus, Different Capitals, Field, Symbolic Violence, Education, Educational System., Argentina, Social Mobility
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M. Nicolás Jacobsen (Author), 2015, Social Mobility in Argentina. An Inquiry into the Educational System, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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