How is sociology related to education?

Social milieus

Jutta Allmendinger

To person

Ph.D., born 1956; Director of the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) in Nuremberg and Professor of Sociology at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich. IAB Nuremberg, Regensburger Strasse 104, 90478 Nuremberg.
Email: [email protected] Internet:

Rita Nikolai

To person

Political scientist, born 1977; Consultant to the director of the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) in Nuremberg.
Email: [email protected]

In Germany, the characteristics of the family background are closely linked to participation in education and the acquisition of skills. Against this background, advocates improving early childhood education, promoting the expansion of all-day schools and making tuition fees socially acceptable.


Something seems to be wrong in the land of poets and thinkers. Not least since the PISA studies, which repeatedly demonstrated the poor international performance of German schoolchildren in reading, mathematics and the natural sciences, the educational misery in Germany has been lamented. Education debacle, educational deficit and social inequality are the keywords that determine the discussion about the German education system. The crossfire of criticism is the close connection between social origin and educational achievements. Compared with other countries, the promotion of children from socially disadvantaged classes and from immigrant families is less successful in this country.

The starting point of this article is the connection between social origin and education, which is proven by the results of the international PISA study, the first national education report "Education in Germany" and analyzes of empirical educational research. The different priorities of national social policy and their effects on education policy are then discussed. The contribution closes with a discussion of reform proposals in family and education policy that are currently being discussed to improve the quality of school education and improve equal opportunities.