'We value your food but not your language' : education systems and nation-building processes in Flanders
Faculty of Social Sciences. Sociology
European educational research journal. - Wellingford
, p. 1-18
University of Antwerp
Education systems are crucial social and cultural apparatuses. They are designed to homogenize at least to a large extent the discourses and praxis of the citizens of a nation by channelling them as much as possible through a unified educational system. However, in ethnically and culturally diversified societies, these homogenizing social institutions can become counterproductive as they are primarily designed by and for the dominant ethnic group. This issue is particularly important in nation-building processes, something that is still explicitly ongoing in Flanders (Belgium), as these institutions put forward a unified nation with one culture and language. In this article we study how these macro-level processes can be related to the interaction processes in and between families and schools. The central research question this article tries to answer is: is the idea of a culturally and linguistically unified representation of the Flemish nation relevant when studying teacher-pupil-parent relations? We aim to build upon the existing literature by relating meso-level processes of institutional racialization and culturalization to micro-level interactions in educational settings and to macro-level processes of nation-building in Flanders. To answer these questions, we rely upon data from two qualitative research projects: (1) one study that focuses on the family socialization processes in ethnic majority and minority families and collected 42 interviews with parents; and (2) a second study that focuses on the educational trajectories of students, with specific attention on the school environment, and collected 114 interviews with students and 57 interviews with school actors. The findings show clear similarities between the macro-level processes and the interactions between families and schools in such a way that the article discusses if ongoing and explicit nation-building processes are capable of appreciating the existing diversity in a nation.