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Scott Davies
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Scott Davies

Tenured; Full Professor, Sociology and Offord Centre for Child Studies

Ontario Research Chair in Educational Achievement and At-Risk Children

Associate Member, Department of Political Science

Kenneth Taylor Hall, Room 609
Work: 905-525-9140 x23607


  1. Ph.D.: University of Toronto, 1992, Department of Sociology


Research Interests:


In my current appointment as Ontario Research Chair my mandate is to examine the determinants of educational achievement among at-risk students. However, I have broad interests in education and social science that draw on a mix of theories and methods. Many of these interests are presented in my co-authored textbook:

Davies, Scott and Neil Guppy. 2010. The Schooled Society: An Introduction to the Sociology of Education (second edition). Toronto: Oxford University Press. 344 pages.

We are currently drafting the third edition, to be published in 2013.

Here some focal points of my current and recent research:


a) Educational Inequality and At-Risk Students:

I can work with students on projects related to various forms of inequality in education and related institutions, such as the criminal justice system. My early research focused on classic issues of educational attainment by race, class, and gender, sometimes examining cultural theories of inequality. More recently I have turned my attention to achievement gaps and policies that aim to narrow those gaps, with an emphasis on quantitative studies of the determinants of school achievement. I am currently examining non-school influences on achievement, including the impact of children's early capacities from a holistic perspective, parenting and family cultural capital, summer learning, and whether Catholic schools outperform public schools net of student intake.


b) Emerging Forms of Stratification

I am also interested in working with students who are interested in broad "big picture" trends in social inequality, and how they connect to educational policy and politics. One of my key interests is on how higher education expansion may be triggering new forms of stratification and types of organizations. Also, I am interested in the broader politics of education and the impact of social movements. In the past I looked at the “framing” tactics of educational interest groups, highlighting how social movements strategically communicate their ideas to take advantage of emerging political opportunities, and trends in educational politics at the global level.


c) Choice, Privatization and Market Forces:

I am interested in working with students who are fascinated by issues of privatization and organizations in education and other institutions. In recent years I have examined school choice and the use of market forces in education, including the emergence of new types of private schools, tutoring franchises, homeschooling, and similar innovations. In the recent past I have used New Institutional Theory to understand these various innovations. In a related vein, I am now interested in the spread of "school forms" from formal education to other sectors, including criminal justice, health, and social services.


d) Youth and School Subcultures:

I am interested in working with students on issues of school deviance, crime and disorder. Early in my career I examined various notions of “cultural resistance” among youth. More recent work has investigated the impact of delinquency and labelling on various life chances. Currently I am interested in how school neighbourhoods affect levels of achievement, and which policies can effectively address school deviance, crime and disorder. Students of mine are now examining school bullying and cultures of fear in schools.

Recent Publications by Area of Interest


a) Educational Inequality and At-Risk Students:


Davies, Scott and Janice Aurini. 2012. "Summer Learning Inequality in Canada." Revised and resubmitted.

Davies, Scott. 2011. "Are there Catholic School Effects in Ontario, Canada?" European Sociological Review, in press.

Davies, Scott and Vicky Maldonado. 2008. “Socioeconomic Inequalities in Canadian Education.” Social Inequality in Canada: Patterns, Problems, and Policies (5th edition) edited by Edward Grabb and Neil Guppy. Toronto: Prentice Hall. Forthcoming. For earlier versions of this chapter, see the 3rd and 4th editions.

Davies, Scott and Janice Aurini. 2008. “School Choice as Concerted Cultivation: The Case of Canada” In The Globalization of School Choice? Edited by Martin Forsey, Scott Davies and Geoffrey Walford. Symposium Books: Oxford Studies in Comparative Education, Oxford. Forthcoming.

Davies, Scott. 2005. “A Revolution of Expectations? Three Key Trends in the SAEP Data.” Pages 149-165, chapter 6 in Preparing for Post Secondary Education: New Roles for Governments and Families, edited by Robert Sweet and Paul Anisef. Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press.

Quirke, Linda and Scott Davies. 2002. “The New Entrepreneurship in Higher Education: The Impact of Tuition Increases at an Ontario University.” Canadian Journal of Higher Education 32(3):85-110.

Davies, S., and Neil Guppy. 1997. "Fields of Study, College Selectivity, and Student Inequalities." Social Forces 73(4):131-151.


b) Emerging Forms of Stratification and Politics in Education


Davies, Scott and Jal Mehta. 2012. “Educationalization” in Sociology of Education, edited by James Ainsworth and Geoffrey Golson. Forthcoming.

Davies, Scott and David Zarifa. 2012. “The Stratification of Universities: Structural Inequality in Canadian and American Higher Education.” Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 30(2) 143-158.

Davies, Scott, Vicky Maldonado and David Zarifa. 2012. “Effectively Maintaining Inequality in Toronto: University Destinations of Toronto District School Board Graduates.” Revise and resubmit.

Davies, Scott and David Zarifa. 2008. “Higher Education.” In International Encyclopedia of Education, edited by Gary McCulloch and David Crook. London: Routledge, Forthcoming.

Davies, Scott and David Zarifa. 2009. “Institutional Theory and the Weberian Tradition.” In Canadian Perspectives on the Sociology of Education. Edited by Cynthia Rasky-Levine. Oxford: Toronto.

Zarifa, David and Scott Davies. 2007. “Balance of Powers: Public Opinion on Control in Education.” Canadian Journal of Sociology 32(2):259-278.

Davies, Scott and Floyd Hammack. 2005. "Channelling Competition in Higher Education: Comparing Canada and the US". Journal of Higher Education 76(1):89-106.

Davies, Scott. 2002. “The Paradox of Progressive Education: A Frame Analysis” Sociology of Education 75(4):269-286.

Davies, Scott. 1999. "From Moral Duty to Cultural Rights: A Case Study of Political Framing in Education." Sociology of Education 72(1):1-21.

Guppy, Neil and Scott Davies. 1999. “Understanding Canadians’ Declining Confidence in Public Education” Canadian Journal of Education 24(3):265-280.

Davies, Scott, and Neil Guppy. 1997. "Globalization and Educational Reforms in Anglo- American Democracies" Comparative Education Review. 41(4):435-59.


c) Choice, Privatization and Market Forces in Education:


Davies, Scott and Janice Aurini. 2011. “School Choice in Canada: Who Chooses What and Why?” Canadian Public Policy, 37(4).

Davies, Scott and Stephanie Howells. 2008. “Private Schools.” In Encyclopedia of the Life Course and Human Development. Forthcoming. Edited by Deborah Carr. Cengage Learning. Farmington Hills, MA.

Davies, Scott and Linda Quirke. 2007. “The Impact of Sector on School Organizations: The Logics of Markets and Institutions.” Sociology of Education 80(1):66-89.

Davies, Scott. 2007. “School Choice.” P 4014 to 4016 in Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology, Edited by George Ritzer. Blackwell Publishing.

Davies, Scott and Janice Aurini. 2006. “Rethinking 'Macro' and 'Meso' Levels of Institutional Analysis: The Case of International Education Corporations.” In The Impact of Comparative Education Research on Institutional Theory, edited by David Baker and Alex Wiseman. Elsevier Science, Ltd.

Davies, Scott, Janice Aurini, and Linda Quirke. 2006. "Institutional Theory Goes To the Market: The Challenge of New Forms of Private Education." in The New Institutionalism and the Study of Education, edited by Heinz Meyer and Brian Rowan. Albany: SUNY Press.

Davies, Scott and Linda Quirke. 2005. “Providing for the Priceless Student: Ideologies of Choice in an Emerging Educational Market.” American Journal of Education 111(4):523-547.

Aurini, Janice and Scott Davies. 2005. “Choice Without Markets: Homeschooling in Context of Private Education.” British Journal of Sociology of Education 26(4):461-474.

Davies, Scott and Janice Aurini. 2005. “Home Schooling and Canadian Educational Politics: Rights, Pluralism, and Pedagogical Individualism.” Evaluation and Research in Education 17(2&3):63-73.

Davies, Scott. 2004. “School Choice by Default? Understanding the Demand for Private Tutoring in Canada.” American Journal of Education 110(3):233-255.

Aurini, Janice and Scott Davies. 2004 “The Transformation of Private Tutoring: Education in a Franchise Form.” Canadian Journal of Sociology 29(3):419-438. Reprinted in Phi Delta Kappan (October):123-128.


d) Youth and School Subcultures:


Davies, Scott and Julian Tanner. 2003. “The Long Arm of the Law: A Test of Labelling Theory." Sociological Quarterly 44(3):385-404.

Tanner, Julian, Scott Davies and Bill O'Grady. 1999. "Whatever Happened to Yesterday's Rebels? Longitudinal Effects of Teenage Delinquency on Education and Occupational Outcomes." Social Problems 46(2):250-274.

Davies, Scott. 1999. "Subcultural Explanations and Interpretations of School Deviance." Aggression and Violent Behavior: A Review Journal. 4(2):191-202.

Davies, S. (1995). "Leaps of Faith: Shifting Currents in Critical Sociology of Education." American Journal of Sociology 100(6):1448-1478. Reprinted as “Les Miracles de la foi: la transformation des courants critiques en sociologie de l’education.” Education et Societes: Revue Internationale de Sociologie de L’Education 5:93-116. 2000-1.

Davies, S. (1995). "Reproduction and Resistance in Canadian High Schools: An Empirical Examination of the Willis Thesis." British Journal of Sociology 46(4):662:687.