Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg


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Mechanisms of Elite Formation in the German Educational System (FOR 1612)

The research group analyses processes of social construction and creation of excellence from early childhood education and care (ECEC) to higher education in Germany, and their significance for recipients and professionals alike. In the first funding phase, six research projects explore educational discourses on elites and excellence, cooperation between families and institutions in child care and primary schools, the exclusive secondary school segment, elite universities with claims of excellence, and social distinction in juvenile peer worlds. Contrasting cases are also considered.

Cooperation across projects in the first funding phase concentrated on refinement of the mechanism concept of elite formation and the analysis of selection criteria and practices at transitional stages in the educational system and their embedded distinction mechanisms and coherence construction, as well as on examination of the implementation and dissemination of policy-driven excellence and elite semantics.

In the second funding phase, the research group intends to explore the ongoing transformation of discourses on excellence and equality, and the exclusive educational landscape in a chronological comparison. It will also examine changes in the selection strategies and educational orientation of parents with pre-school and primary school children, and with a qualitative longitudinal approach, study the educational biographies and interpretative patterns of excellence of adolescents at exclusive secondary schools at the transition stage to higher education or working life. Moreover, a typology of arguments for exclusive educational institutions will be identified systematically and the significance of international ECEC and primary and secondary schools taken into account in view of the current internationalization of the German educational system and transnational elite formation. Here an innovative method of linking micro-analytical qualitative studies with discourse analysis comes to the fore. At the end of the second funding phase, the research group’s findings will shed light on the dynamics of elite formation in a chronological comparison, on selection strategies, processes and conflicts in a longitudinal perspective, and on the early education biographies of elites and the impact of these processes on the educational system in general.

Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Heinz-Hermann Krüger
Vice-Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Werner Helsper
Research Associate: Jasmin Lüdemann M.A.


Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Zentrum für Schul- und Bildungsforschung (ZSB)
c/o Jasmin Lüdemann M.A.
Franckeplatz 1, Haus 31 (Hans-Ahrbeck-Haus)
06099 Halle (Saale)
Tel.: 0345/55-21705