Prof. Dr. Jürgen Gerhards (Freie Universität Berlin)
Prof. Dr. Ulrich Kohler (Universität Potsdam)
Tim Sawert (Universität Potsdam / FU Berlin)
Although Latin and ancient Greek are no longer spoken languages and learning them is of no direct use for the communication between people from different linguistic backgrounds, the proportion of pupils which decide to learn these languages in school increased in Germany over time.
In the research project we investigate why pupils and their parents decide against the alleged rationale logic of learning a modern language (Spanish, French) in a continuously globalizing world and for acquiring competences in languages of no communicative use (Latin, ancient Greek).
Based on Bourdieu’s theory of habitus and a rational action model an explanation for the phenomenon is developed and the derived hypotheses are tested empirically. Here, the main focus is on the relevance of processes of distinction, exclusion and pretension. The central assumption is that the distribution of the different crucial motives in the decision-making process varies depending on the socio-economic background. This leads to differences in the foreign language profile selected: The classes which are privileged with cultural capital want to realize gains through distinction and exclusion. The members of the middle classes copy the practices of the privileged classes but incorporate these practices into their own logic, which oriented more strongly towards an orientation of utilization: Consequently they decide for Latin in order to realize positive transfer effects for example.
Detailed description of the project (only in German)
To separate the different motives and their effect on the decision for a foreign language profile, at selected schools two different surveys will be conducted during the project:
12/2016 – 09/2018
The project is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).