- 教育社会学研究 (ISSN:03873145)
- vol.78, pp.279-301, 2006-05-31 (Released:2011-03-18)
The aim of this paper is to investigate when and how the meaning of high school diplomas changed during the era of educational expansion in two senses:(1) ubjective and (2) objective. More concretely, it examines:(1) how people recognized high school diplomas and (2) how high school diplomas functioned in the achievement of occupational and economic status. To examine these points, the authors focus on postwar Japan, when the high school enrollment rate rose dramatically under the new educational system. The data used in the analyses are Social Stratification and Social Mobility (SSM) data collected every ten years since 1955.Three cohorts, divided according to the high school enrollment rate, are compared. The high school enrollment rate is 50% to 65% among the first cohort, 66% to 89% for the second, and more than 90% for the third. The enrollment rate increased continuously during the first and second cohorts, so the former is named the “early phase” and the latter the “later phase.” The enrollment rate reaches a plateau in the third. “Desired educational level” and “desired occupation” are used in the analysis of subjective meaning. “Occupation of first job, ” “occupation of present job, ” and “present personal income” are used to clarify the meaning in an objective sense.The analysis of subjective meaning reveals the following. As the high schoolenrollment rate increased dramatically, the desired level of education rose with it. More people wanted to go on to higher level of education: high school and higher education. But the desired occupation of people who wanted to go to high school was almost the same for the early phase and later phase cohorts. However, the actual first jobs of high school graduates in the two cohorts were very different. Fewer people obtained white-collar jobs and more entered into blue-collar jobs in the latter cohort.Comparing present job and present personal income for each of the four data sets since 1965, the three cohorts can be characterized as follows. In the early phase, a relatively large number of people acquired white-collar jobs at an early stage of their occupational careers, and a substantive ratio maintained these jobs to 1995. In addition, personal income increased steadily as people of this cohort became older. On the other hand, a large number of people in the later phase cohort started working in blue-collar jobs. But as they got older, they seemed to move into different types of jobs. The personal income of this cohort increased dramatically in 1995. Therefore, it can be said that this cohort “caught up.” For the last cohort, however, there seemed to be little chance of upward mobility in either occupational or economic status.In sum, if only the function of high school diplomas is considered, the meaning of high school diplomas changed between the early and later phase. But if the “catching-up” of members of the later phase and the subjective meaning of high school diplomas is taken into account, there is little difference in how people recognize and value high school diplomas between first two cohorts. Therefore, a distinctive line can be drawn between the later phase and the next cohort (i. e., the plateau), when the premium of being a high school graduate diminished.