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Title: Conviviality under the cosmopolitan canopy? Social mixing and friendships in an urban secondary school
Authors: Hollingworth, S
Mansaray, A
Keywords: Social mixing;Comprehensive schooling;Education;Social class;Ethnicity;Community cohesion;Inequality
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Universities of Surrey and Stirling, the British Sociological Association and SAGE Publications Ltd
Citation: Sociological Research Online, 17(3), Article no. 2, 2012
Abstract: Social mix and social mixing are topics of increasing significance to both the policy and academic communities in the UK, and have particular salience in urban multi-ethnic and socially diverse contexts. Enshrined in the comprehensive school ideal, and implicated in the now legal duty to promote 'community cohesion,' (urban) schools play a pivotal role in agendas for social mixing but little is empirically known about how this is lived and experienced by the young people in those schools. This paper begins to develop a theoretical understanding of social mixing drawing on qualitative data on the patterns, discourses, and experiences of associations and friendships collected in a London comprehensive school. We find that while the social mix of the school is celebrated, in official discourse as congenial and 'convivial', by staff and students alike, the extent of actual mixing - of associations and friendships forming between those of different social and ethnic backgrounds - is both constrained and complex. We point to the social and cultural factors which produce this sense of conviviality, and the opportunities for cultural learning it supports. At the same time, we argue that there are limitations. Schools are sites of differentiation, and friendships as exemplars of social mixing, both (re)produce and are (re)produced by existing social hierarchies and inequalities.
Description: This article is available open access through the publisher’s website at the link below. Copyright © Sociological Research Online 2012.
ISSN: 1360-7804
Appears in Collections:Education
Dept of Education Research Papers

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