The paper aims to review main approaches in research on educational inequalities, focusing mainly on quantitative studies of social structure. The review starts with a discussion of the 'status attainment school' developed in nineteen sixties, followed by 'educational transition approach' and empirical generalizations proposed in nineteen nineties, namely 'maximally maintained inequality', 'effectively maintained inequality' and rational choice theory. The article shows how the concept of educational process has been redefined in these perspectives, what research questions have been asked and what types of statistical techniques have been used. Such comparison leads to the conclusion that changes in research strategies in the past five decades evolved towards more valid and detailed models which were better fitted to actual educational paths. Nevertheless they can be still seen as rather crude research patterns. Their application in the context of differentiation of educational institutions can seriously limit possibilities of asking new questions concerning educational stratification.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.