Dropout – institutional selection and social exclusion For the last ten years dropout of vocational education has increased strongly in Denmark. The questions addressed in this paper are why and how dropout in VET takes place. The objective is to provide more detailed and qualified knowledge of the complex processes of dropping out. The present study is part of a large national research project on retention in VET. The paper aims to understand dropout as a result of the interplay of students’ agentic actions and social interactions and the opportunities for participation afforded by the colleges. Dropout is studied as a combination of on the one hand processes of social and cultural in- and exclusion among the students and on the other hand processes of institutional selection of vocational colleges. It draws on critical theories of reproduction in education and cultural studies of education. The study shows how the institutionalised selection of students is integrated in the working of the colleges, and that this practice contributes to dropouts. In addition the students make friendships and form groups in their daily life in college and outside according to gender, ethnicity, age, residential area, sub-cultural style, etc. It is shown how the students, through the interplay of institutional selection and social in- and exclusion, pass through different trajectories of participation in the programmes.
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Journal of Vocational Education and Training 9th International Conference, 2011