Immigration and education

Authored by: Ramona Fruja Amthor

Routledge International Handbook of Migration Studies

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  May  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415779722
eBook ISBN: 9780203863299
Adobe ISBN: 9781135183493


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Education and progress, both personal and social, have been intricately linked in the human imagination and across historical contexts. The link became even more powerful with the introduction of free, open, and eventually compulsory education—for example, from the early days of the “common schools” in mid-nineteenth-century United States, education has carried tremendous symbolic weight in the national imagination. It connected the gains of an education to personal self-improvement, social mobility and the fulfillment and perpetuation of the new republic's virtues. Such potential eventually engendered previously absent support for publically-funded schools from multiple social strata, as each was able to find a relevant promise in this institution. Among these supportive groups were the newest members of society who, ironically, were among the very reasons native-born populations supported free schools that would aid with their integration. Drawing mainly on US-based immigration, this chapter centers on the intersections between immigration and education conceptualized both as a social institution and as lived experience. I position the education of immigrants in historical context as well as in the context of assimilation and integration theories, emphasizing the relationship between education and aspects of inequality and social reproduction. After a brief overview of the historical development in this area of inquiry, I highlight major issues in the field—focusing on immigrant education along several relevant social locations—and subsequent critiques. I conclude with potential areas of future investigation.

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