New Audiences and New Educational Stratifications in Brazilian Higher Education in the 21st Century

Celia Caregnato, Leandro Raizer, Gregório Grisa, Bernardo Sfredo Miorando


This article addresses the contradictions associated with the access of new audiences to higher education in Brazil in the last decade, aiming to describe and characterize the expansion of the system. Advances and limitations can be identified, as there are democratization movements and changes in patterns of persistent inequality. The discussion is based on studies about educational stratification, drawing on a Bourdieusian framework, and uses secondary statistical data on higher education and other Brazilian social indicators, collected by official agencies. The analysis indicates the increase in access to higher education in terms of income and ethnic group, allowing for a broader access to academic cultural capital and labour opportunities. However, it reinforces the argument that inequalities associated with educational stratification still remain in Brazil. The inclusion of these new audiences in Brazilian higher education is marked by categories of differentiation, such as the nature of institutions and funding of higher education, types of degree, teaching modality and shift. With that, despite the advances towards massification and retreat on vertical stratification, the forms of horizontal stratification in Brazilian higher education are increasing.

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