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À l’école du travail social. Une sociologie comparée des formations d’assistantes sociales en France et en Italie

Abstract : The goal of this dissertation is to question the social origins of social service assistants (or social workers) in France and Italy. Based on a cross-national comparative design focusing on social workers’ training trajectories, this research combines approaches from the sociology of higher education, sociology of professions and theories of socialization. While social workers’ curricula in the two countries vary across forms of “pre-service”, “in-service”, vocational as well as university training, they generally stem from the tension existing between academic and professional educational systems. This study addresses this tension, focusing on the interplay between students’ social background and the logics of education in social assistance. The research design combines qualitative and quantitative methods, including face-to-face interviews, questionnaires and ethnographic observation at four educational institutions. By comparing the configuration of the disciplinary field in the two countries, and by following students longitudinally from entry to graduation, hence, this study aims to shed light on the process of socialization in social work education.The first section offers a social history of training in social service, investigating the background of the different types of curricula in the two national contexts. While social work training in France generally takes place outside of the high education system, in Italy it was ultimately integrated in the university field throughout the 1990s and 2000s. Exploring the more or less successful process of institutionalization of this specific form of training, allows elaborating on the academization of the social service sector in light of the progressive professionalization of higher education. The second section focuses on aspirations and orientations among social service students. By classifying students’ choices hierarchically in the two national higher education sectors, we identify three main types of orientation, which have to do with a student’s educational trajectory, their class membership, as well as her preferred justification.Based on a statistical typology of students’ life stories, we illustrate the social and academic background, as well as the individual and collective conditions, in which students embarking in this type of education are embedded. The comparative, cross-sectional analysis of ten individual trajectories, in fact, shows that while some students display socio-academic continuity, others experience professional readjustment or even social reorientation.The third section addresses selection mechanisms at entry and throughout the educative path in the two countries, while also focusing on the content and skills within the curricula of the four training institutes under study. It shows that, albeit often claiming otherwise, institutes do not select students based on their school background (previous school experience), but rather target candidates with specific profiles stemming from distinctive social origins and experiences. While institutes belonging to the school cluster target primarily students of working class background in line with the tradition of school institutions, those of the professional cluster target specific interactional predispositions as well as adaptability to professional conditions, which are more frequent among students that are better off in terms of cultural capital. Furthermore, all institutes put forth a progressive selection, as not all of the students ultimately get a diploma. Learning social work takes place at the crossroads between social docility and adaptability to the job market, which implies adjustments, resistances and re-appropriations of the singular ethos of a professional space in constant redefinition.
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Ruggero Iori. À l’école du travail social. Une sociologie comparée des formations d’assistantes sociales en France et en Italie. Sociologie. Université Paris Saclay (COmUE), 2018. Français. ⟨NNT : 2018SACLV028⟩. ⟨tel-02891564⟩



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