The role of social and cultural capital in choice making for post secondary school destinations : the case of contemporary Cyprus
This study investigates the choices that students coming from different social backgrounds and from the full range of secondary schools in Cyprus make regarding their post school destinations. It is based on a theory, which regards the family as a central agency in the reproduction of inequalities. This study argues that apart from making the most of their financial capital, Cypriot families utillse intentionally or in an unintended manner the non-monetary capitals they may have available such as their cultural capital and more importantly their social capital to produce social 'profits' for the education of their offspring. Social capital is seen as a major factor that can explain the unequal pattern of educational choices made by the growing ranks of students coming from -different social origins regarding their post school destinations. Different families adopt various strategies to cope with the lack of that resource and it appears that some families have more options to consider than others. The differential ability to cope with the lack of social capital constitutes a source of social differentiation. The mobilisation of various resources is examined in a social environment whereby for the past three or four decades went through a process of modermsation. This rapid transition has led to the co-existence of traditional and modernist perspectives of how social relations and gender issues are perceived. Adherence to one or another perspective affects the strategies that families employ for their children's educational prospects. This research used a multiple or mixed method approach combining quantitative and qualitative methodologies in a complimentary manner. A stratified sample of 404 students graduating from all kinds of secondary schools and their parents completed questionnaires. A selected sample of 24 parents was interviewed. The findings of the study indicate that choice making varies across social class and is influenced by gender. Of the non-monetary resources investigated social capital appears to act as a hidden mechanism of social selection in modem Cyprus particularly because it allows for the creation of a certain habitus that allows some privileged families and students mostly from middle class backgrounds to make far reaching and daring decisions which offer them the possibility for social success in a competitive and 4close' labour market whereas at the same time it makes others from lower social class backgrounds to make 'pragmatic' choices which often mean making compromises in their ambitions to achieve social success.