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[ 28.11.2013 ] - Ieva Karklina defends Doctoral thesis «Factors Affecting Educational Achievements Of Students From Economically Disadvantaged Families In Latvia»

RIGA — The Riga Stradins University promotion council unanimously recognized Ms. Karklina's academic work and awarded her Doctoral degree in sociology. The doctoral thesis focuses on the factors contributing to educational achievements of children from economically disadvantaged families in Latvia and aspires to identify possibilities for improving school performance of children from such families. The thesis was elaborated at Riga Stadins University between 2006 and 2013, and was supported by academic work at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology in research grants «Risk factors for social exclusion» and «Youth in modern risk society.»

Latvia has some of the highest poverty and social exclusion rates in the European Union. Consequently, the proportion of secondary school students with high risk of academic failure is high. A direct relationship exists between students’ socioeconomic background and educational achievements: in general, students from well-off backgrounds have higher educational performance than pupils coming from economically disadvantaged families. At the same time, studies have shown that a certain number of economically disadvantaged students are capable to positively adapt to critical situation and to earn high educational achievements despite all difficulties and problems caused by material deprivation.

The theoretical framework is constructed according to research model that includes P. Bourdieu, J. S. Coleman and C. Buchmann views on family and school capital effect on students’ achievements, B. Bernstein and A. Lareau approach to the interpretation of cultural capital, and ideas of individual social capital theorists’ — H. Flap and N. Lin —, as well as R. Burt and X. S. Briggs.

The research project includes analysis of information gathered from interviews with members of economically disadvantaged families, reflects on the circumstances of those families, and characterizes restrictions in provision of education caused by economic deprivation.

Factors contributing to high educational achievements of students from economically disadvantaged families in Latvia as well as social resilience — result of interaction among those factors —, have been assessed based on data from the internationally comparative education study OECD PISA 2006. M. Ungar approach to social resilience as the concept construed in certain society and culture as result of interaction between positive changes contributing factors — is implemented. Using the guidelines of capital theory, implemented by V. Meņšikovs within the sociological analysis of Latvian Youth, and the concept of social resilience, it is concluded that economically disadvantaged families do not form a homogenous group — although they share a similar socio-economic status, they are different with regards to other forms of family capital: human, cultural and social capital. Socially resilient students from economically disadvantaged families use these other forms of family capital along with school-level capital and personal capital to reach high educational achievements.


Since 2006, Ieva Karklina has been active in youth research and social exclusion research at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology.


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