Entre el 20 y el 23 de agosto, el estudiante patrocinado COES, Carlos Palma Amestoy, quien está investigando sobre los procesos de reproducción social en vinculación a la educación superior en Chile, presentó en la Conferencia European Sociological Association (ESA) en Manchester. Su ponencia, titulada “Aspirations and Boundaries in the Transition to Higher Education: Self-selection and Self-exclusion in Youth”, forma parte de los resultados de su investigación doctoral en Sociología por la Universidad de Bristol.
While the expansion of higher education in the last few decades may be considered as the widening of opportunities for young people in the process of transition from the school to a new stage, at the same time new barriers and symbolic boundaries (Lamont et al. 2015) have emerged which may limit their choices and decisions (Reay et al. 2005). In the case of Chile, a country dominated from the 1980s by neoliberal policies and a market-oriented scheme in the educational sphere, the transformation of the higher education system has entailed its institutional diversification, rapid expansion and extreme privatisation. In this context, this paper explores the subjectivities and aspirations of young people living in Chile who are in their last year of secondary school. Through qualitative interviews, aspirations and desires of 46 students from different types of schools, social class and gender are analysed. The results show that class and gender are essential categories in the formation of students’ aspirations. Furthermore, the process of institutional segmentation has brought about a field where the desires of the youth are in correspondence with the structure of the field of institutions of higher education (Bourdieu 1996). Aspirations and expectations, therefore, seem to be rooted in the objective structures of the field. Thus, social segmentation and reproduction of social inequalities in the country are highly associated with self-selection and self-exclusion, which occur as a result of internalised dispositions and aspirations of the youth.