2000 年 66 巻 p. 213-230
In the field of the sociological study of educational attainment, inequality due to socioeconomic status has long been a major theme. Many theories have been proposed to explain such inequalities: heredity, cultural deprivation, linguistic socialization, anti-school culture, and cultural capital. Most of these theories, which emerged from the West, emphasize differences in ability or preschool-family socialization depending on SES (socioeconomic status). Based on empirical analyses of the study hours of Japanese high school students, this study attempts to challenge these Western theoretical traditions by introducing a theory of inequality of effort.
This study uses two survey data sets of 11th graders in 11 Japanese high schools: one was collected in 1979, and the other in 1997, using questionnaires with the same questions. Using these two data sets, the after-school study hours of students are compared between the two periods, and the influences of socioeconomic status on study hours are also examined. Cross tabulation analysis, comparing means of study hours, and regression analyses are conducted. The results of these analyses show that study hours decreased over the 18 years, that the degree of decrease differed among different SES groups, and that the effect of SES has increased over the 18 years, after controlling other variables.
Based on these findings, we argue that inequality of effort contributes to the inequality of educational attainment, that the effect of SES is dependent on educational situations, such as the reduction in the pressure of “exam hell” which has been caused by a decline of young people's population and education reform, and that even in Western societies, inequality of effort may be involved in inequalities of educational attainment. We contend that the ideology of meritocracy, particularly the Japanese version of it with its strong emphasis on effort, successfully conceals a reality of unequal educational attainment by assuming an equal distribution of efforts.