The proliferation of international schools: Implicational for educational stratification

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This article applies positional conflict theory to investigate how the proliferation of international schools can create a new layer of educational stratification and deepen inequality of opportunity. Data from five international schools in metropolitan centres across southern China were collected through interviews, school visits, and a survey. The findings demonstrate how international schooling can enable local middle-class students to accumulate distinctive forms of positional advantages that are geared towards global higher education and careers in the global economy. The implications are threefold: (1) demonstrating how international schools can exacerbate educational divides, (2) revealing the nature of advantages created by international schooling, and (3) illuminating how international schooling can reposition students in a global class structure while potentially creating barriers within local/national contexts. The article concludes by calling for more critical attention to the ongoing expansion of international schools. Copyright © 2024 British Association for International and Comparative Education.

Original languageEnglish
Early online dateMar 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Mar 2024


Wright, E. (2024). The proliferation of international schools: Implicational for educational stratification. Compare. Advance online publication.


  • International schools
  • Inequality
  • Educational stratification
  • Social class
  • China


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