Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Educational Systems and the Core Tasks of Schooling: Social Mobility, Work, and Civic Engagement

WZB Distinguished Lecture in Social Sciences by Herman van de Werfhorst

Discussant: Martin Neugebauer, FU Berlin
Moderated by Heike Solga, WZB

Contemporary societies expect a lot from educational systems: they should promote social mobility by providing equal opportunities independent of social class, gender, or migration background, provide valuable skills for the labour market, and prepare for active civic engagement. How do educational systems fare in achieving these goals? Can educational systems be organized in a way that promotes all these goals, or do trade-offs emerge when promoting one goal comes at the cost of losing out on another?

This lecture focuses on the relationship between educational system characteristics and three core outcomes: providing equality of opportunity, creating a smooth connection between education/training and work, and promoting active civic engagement. Drawing on insights from the fields of stratification sociology on educational systems, and education, politics and economics on the core tasks of education, it will show how early tracking, school accountability, and the vocational orientation of educational systems affects these outcomes. The results, based on comparative and longitudinal data, point to a clear policy trade-off in the design of educational systems. Systems that perform well with regard to the school-work linkage, often perform worse with regard to promoting equality in civic engagement.

Herman van de Werfhorst is professor of sociology at the University of Amsterdam, and director of the Amsterdam Centre for Inequality Studies (AMCIS).

The lecture is part of the WZB Distinguished Lectures in Social Sciences.


Lecture by Herman van de Werfhorst

October 10, 2018

Manuela Ludwig
manuela.ludwig [at]
Registration deadline
Please register until 08.10.2018.
manuela.ludwig [at]

The WZB provides for child care during the lecture. Please respond by September 26, 2018 to Friederike Theilen-Kosch: friederike.theilen-kosch [at]

WZB, Reichpietschufer 50, 10785 Berlin, Raum A 300
Wednesday, 10 October 2018
Start 5:00 pm
Schwerpunkt Dynamiken sozialer Ungleichheiten

Our event location is wheelchair-accessible. If you need support, please let Friederike Theilen-Kosch know: friederike.theilen-kosch [at]