Ongoing inequality in a 'knowledge economy': perceptions and actions

Triangle Journals
Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Studies in Sociology of Education, 2003, 13 (1), pp. 55 - 76
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The concept of the 'knowledge economy' is increasingly used to underpin education policy in developed countries. In Australia, it has been applied to post-compulsory education policy, with efforts to increase retention in senior secondary education and reform of vocational education in the senior years. The article draws on two research projects with senior secondary schools. Many students (and their teachers and parents) perceived qualifications not so much as providing the knowledge considered necessary by government policy for the contemporary economy, but rather as a 'screen' used by employers to sort and select. Knowledge of opportunity structures and access to resources, while not only defined by social class, operated to create differential access to available choices in the educational market place. Despite ongoing inequality, the article argues that the hope many students expressed in relation to education can be fulfilled in practice.
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