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Being chosen and performing choice : young people engaging in imaginative and constrained secondary school… Yoon, Ee-Seul 2013

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BEING CHOSEN AND PERFORMING CHOICE: YOUNG PEOPLE ENGAGING IN IMAGINATIVE AND CONSTRAINED SECONDARY SCHOOL PRACTICES IN VANCOUVER, BC, CANADA  by EE-SEUL YOON  B.A. (Hon), The University of British Columbia, 2003 M.A., The University of British Columbia, 2004 M.Ed., The University of British Columbia, 2006  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Educational Studies)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)  August 2013 ? Ee-Seul Yoon, 2013  ii Abstract  Over the last three decades, the political project of school choice policy, promoted by the Vancouver School District and the BC Ministry of Education, has been contentious. Many have contended that school choice further contributes to the fragmentation and associated hierarchies of the education system and of social structures in the urban context of Vancouver, a major city with rapidly rising ethnic diversity and socio-economically polarizing urban redevelopment. To shed further light on these concerns about school choice, in this study I investigate the ways in which young people, ages 11?19, positioned at various social, racial, and geographic locations and with varied social experiences, make sense of school choice policy. Here I focus particularly on the ways in which young people imagine, experience, and form certain modes of social, spatial, and racial identification and groups, as well as on the relationships between these groups under the mechanism of school choice. Between 2009 and 2010, I carried out a multi-sited ethnographic study from a critical socio-phenomenological perspective. I conducted 59 semi-structured interviews with students in transition (Grades 7, 8, and 12), observed 16 school information evenings and two secondary schools over a six-month period, and analyzed media discourses and policy texts as they pertained to broader social, urban, and political changes. I drew upon an interdisciplinary analytical framework of critical policy studies and youth studies and focused on three theoretical concepts: the imaginary, the imagination, and imaginary capital. These three concepts provide a key analytical framework for understanding the ways in which school choice complicates young people?s classification struggles and distinction-making (Bourdieu, 1984) within the widely circulating dominant social, urban, and national imaginary. I  iii conclude that while current local policies of school choice can provide enriched alternative programs, they do so for only highly selective and competitive groups of students. Overall, my research findings point to the reality that school choice deepens existing social, spatial, and racial divisions, aggravates tensions, and ultimately worsens existing inequalities while producing new forms of social and educational stratification in the rapidly diversifying global city of Vancouver.     iv Preface  Ethics Approval: This study was approved by the Behavioural Research Ethics Board at the University of British Columbia on September 1, 2009. Approval number: H08-01801  Publications: Sections of Chapter 3 and Chapter 5 are published in Yoon, E. (2011) Mini schools: the global city communities of Vancouver. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 32(2), 253?268.  Photographs: Photos in Chapter 7 were taken, with permission, from The Vancouver Sun.   v Table of Contents  Abstract .................................................................................................................................... ii Preface ..................................................................................................................................... iv Table of Contents .................................................................................................................... v List of Tables ........................................................................................................................... x List of Figures ......................................................................................................................... xi List of Photos ......................................................................................................................... xii Acknowledgements .............................................................................................................. xiii Dedication .............................................................................................................................. xv Chapter  1: Introduction ........................................................................................................ 1 1.1 School choice in the context of Vancouver: a focus on mini schools ...................... 8 1.2 Research questions .................................................................................................. 10 1.3 Theoretical landscapes and key concepts ............................................................... 11 1.4 Methodology and methods ...................................................................................... 13 1.5 Who and where: Grades 7, 8, and 12 at East High and West High ........................ 16 1.6 Arguments and chapter outlines.............................................................................. 19 Chapter  2: The concept of the imagination in school choice research ............................ 24 2.1 Literature review: sociology of school choice ........................................................ 26 2.1.1 Divergence and convergence in structuralist analyses of school choice ............ 27 Economic globalization and education reforms .......................................... 28 Cultural sociology and middle classes in the education market ................. 32 Affective and gendered dimensions of school choice ................................. 36  vi Historically shaped and currently changing unequal spatial conditions ..... 38 Increasing racial and ethnic separation ....................................................... 42 Impasses of social segregation and choice .................................................. 45 2.1.2 School choice and post-structural theories of power and subjectivity ................ 48 Policy as text: critical policy analysis of market rhetoric and ideology ..... 49 Policy as discourse: neoliberal subjectivity and techniques of the self ...... 51 Emerging post-structural approaches to race and space ............................. 54 2.2 A social phenomenological approach that embraces the imaginary ....................... 56 2.2.1 School choice as imaginative practices ............................................................... 56 Imagination as situated negotiation with the world .................................... 57 The imaginary ............................................................................................. 59 Dialogical relationships between the imaginary and imagination .............. 61 Chapter  3: Schools as imagined communities in the local history .................................. 65 3.1 The case of British Columbia?s education system .................................................. 66 3.1.1 Early history ........................................................................................................ 67 3.1.2 After World War II: massification and streaming .............................................. 69 3.1.3 New school communities in the era of privatization, devolution, and marketization................................................................................................................... 73 3.2 Vancouver: differentiated school programs for a diverse population ..................... 76 3.2.1 Growing inequality and schools as imagined communities ................................ 82 Ethnicized and racialized spatial divisions and school choice.................... 85 3.3 Schools .................................................................................................................... 88 3.3.1 West High ........................................................................................................... 88  vii 3.3.2 East High ............................................................................................................. 92 3.4 Conclusion .............................................................................................................. 96 Chapter  4: A critical socio-phenomenological approach to policy research .................. 98 4.1 What is a critical, socio-phenomenological policy analysis? ............................... 101 4.2 Ethnographic methods and study participants ...................................................... 109 4.2.1 Interviews .......................................................................................................... 110 4.2.2 Non-participant observation.............................................................................. 115 4.2.3 Policy and media texts ...................................................................................... 116 4.2.4 Possibilities and limitations of my ethnographic policy research ..................... 128 4.3 Data description and analysis................................................................................ 130 4.3.1 Narrative-based social analysis ......................................................................... 130 4.3.2 Deductive approach: theoretical concepts and previous analyses .................... 132 4.3.3 Coding and analytic processes .......................................................................... 133 4.4 Conclusion ............................................................................................................ 134 Chapter  5: Class distinction, the global imaginary, and symbolic domination ........... 137 5.1 ?I want to go to university, not college?: the formation of elite identity .............. 139 5.2 The global imaginary: becoming global elites through school choice ................. 149 5.3 Streaming: symbolic domination .......................................................................... 159 5.4 Conclusion ............................................................................................................ 171 Chapter  6: The urban imaginary, moral panic, and young people?s school cartographies of security .................................................................................................... 175 6.1 Urban dangers, young people?s cartographies of safety and fear, and the moral function of mini schools.................................................................................................... 179  viii 6.2 Moral panic: the fear of gangs in urban schools ................................................... 191 6.3 Young people?s competing urban imaginaries of the East Side ........................... 204 6.4 Conclusion ............................................................................................................ 211 Chapter  7: The national imaginary of Canada and racial and ethnic classification struggles in the lived experiences of school choice ........................................................... 214 7.1 The racialization of mini programs and their social and cultural effects on young people in urban space ........................................................................................................ 218 7.2 Racialized socialization and border anxiety ......................................................... 224 7.3 The ethnic and cultural complexities of social exclusion and inclusion ............... 235 7.4 Racial divisions and consequences of choice programs at East High in gentrifying neighbourhoods of Vancouver .......................................................................................... 237 7.5 Conclusion ............................................................................................................ 246 Chapter  8: Rethinking and reformulating school choice policy .................................... 248 8.1 Symbolic school choices: space, race, and affect ................................................. 250 8.1.1 Class distinction and the global imaginary ....................................................... 251 8.1.2 Cities, urbanism, and the moral character of global security anxieties ............ 254 8.1.3 Racial classification and the national imaginary of Canada ............................. 257 8.2 Through the lens of the imaginary as capital ........................................................ 261 8.3 Social phenomenology and young people: a new direction for critical policy scholarship ........................................................................................................................ 268 8.4 Recommendations for a new school choice policy framework ............................ 274 References ............................................................................................................................ 277 Appendices ........................................................................................................................... 311  ix Appendix A - Codes.......................................................................................................... 311 Appendix B - Interview schedule ..................................................................................... 313   x List of Tables Table 1 Student enrolment in District Specified Alternative Programs in 2012?2013 ............ 9 Table 2 Student profiles: class, space, race, and school choice ............................................ 123   xi List of Figures Figure 3.1 Four schools from the Vancouver School District by home language .................. 87   xii List of Photos Photo 6.1 Students attend a memorial assembly at Maple High Secondary in honour of slain student ................................................................................................................................... 196 Photo 6.2 Eastside shooting ends with tragic suicide ........................................................... 198    xiii Acknowledgements My heartfelt thanks first goes out to all the student participants who not only welcomed me into their everyday social and cultural spaces but also shared with me the stories that were so critical to helping me understand the complexities of our changing social and educational worlds. I would also like to thank the dedicated administrators and committed teachers who allowed me to conduct this study at their schools and in their classrooms, and I thank them for sharing their insights with me, especially under the present conditions of limited school resources and class time. I also appreciate the generous support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, a UBC Four Year Doctoral Fellowship, the Amanda Araba Ocran Memorial Award, and the Patricia Dyer Memorial Award in Education, all of which helped me complete this study. My PhD supervisory committee members have expanded my mind more than I ever imagined possible. Dr. Jo Dillabough, Dr. Kjell Rubenson, and Dr. Kalervo Gulson continuously inspired my desire to learn and practice scholarship conscientiously and ethically. I am indebted to each of you for guiding me to practice generative and generous scholarship and for supporting me throughout this incredible PhD journey. I have also been very fortunate to get support from my fellow graduate pals. A special thank-you goes out to my writing buddies, who kept me focused on my writing: They are Hanae Tsukada, Linh Tran, Erin Graham, Naureen Madhani, Dr. Jude Walker, and Dr. Jackie Kennelly. Also, I would like to acknowledge my kind and feisty thesis group members for their intellectual and moral support during this journey. They are Lyn Daniels, Dr. Dilek  xiv Kayaalp, Dr. Stephanie Skourtes, Rachel Yu, Autumn Knowlton, Yao Xiao, Alana Boileau, and Gina Wang. The Department of Educational Studies at UBC has also been a welcoming intellectual home for me, filled with great opportunities and valuable resources that empowered me to grow as a socially conscientious scholar-researcher. I would especially like to thank Dr. Andre Mazawi, Dr. Daniel Vokey, Dr. Shauna Butterwick, and Dr. Lesley Andres for their ongoing mentoring and support. Also, I want to thank Jeannie Young, Shermila Salgadoe, Roweena Bacchus, and Gail Gudmundson, a fantastic group of EDST staff who I worked and laughed with throughout my time in the department. Also, I want to thank my dedicated copyeditor, Naomi Moses. My PhD journey would have been unthinkable without my family?s support, both material and spiritual. My father, Sang-Do Yoon, and my mother, Soon-Geum Park, have been two important pillars of my life and have supported me tirelessly. Bill, Jennifer, Jason, Rowan, Liam, and Chris? generosity and kindness motivated me and sustained me year after year. My soul mate, Josh, and my amazing daughter, Sophie, have been my greatest source of strength and inspiration. I am so grateful for your presence in my life, and I hope to share many more of our dreams together in the years to come.  xv Dedication For Josh  1 Chapter  1: Introduction  When the BC Liberal party won the 2001 election with the biggest landslide in BC political history (winning 77 of 79 total seats), it gained the momentum to move forward with its ?New Era? election platform, which contained a variety of neoliberal reforms, including tax reductions, social welfare rollbacks, and privatization of the public sector, many of which were built upon the neoliberal economic principles of Fredric Hayek and Milton Friedman (Lauder, Brown, Dillabough, & Halsey, 2006). One year after the Liberals were elected, they amended the School Act, introducing market reforms, including school choice policy, similar to the sweeping market-based educational reforms that had been introduced in the US, the UK, and New Zealand since the early 1990s (Ball, 2003; Forsey, Davies, & Walford, 2008; Hanushek, 1986; Raham, 1998). When, in 2002, for the first time in the educational history of BC, the Liberal government introduced an open enrolment policy, which allows students to transfer to any other school where space is available, BC?s current Premier (then Education Minister) Christy Clark gave the following rationale:  We want to create a top-notch public education system for young people in British Columbia: a system that recognizes the importance of parental involvement and gives parents a more meaningful voice in how our schools are run, a system that gives students more choice about the school they attend and the educational program they follow, a system that provides school boards with greater financial flexibility and enables them to become more entrepreneurial and, above all, a system that?s focused at every level on improving student performance. (Clark, 2002, pp. 1505, italics added)   2 The policy of school choice was thus hailed in the provincial education landscape as an effective solution that would address several challenges facing the public education system, including student performance, as Clark states above. During this period of neoliberal reforms, the Vancouver School District quickly increased school choice by introducing multiple district-specified alternative programs designed to attract cross-boundary1 students at the secondary level. The number of students who attended secondary schools outside their catchment areas reached approximately 8,810 secondary students (i.e., 34% of the entire secondary student population) in the 2011?2012 academic year (Vancouver School Board, 2012b).2  Reflected in this shift is a policy goal to create better education through the neoliberal imaginary of education, that is, more choice for students and their families and more competition between young people, teachers, schools, and school districts. This shift is indeed in line with the government reintroduction of neoclassical economic principles under the new terms of neoliberalism or advanced neoliberalism, which have strongly influenced the reimagining of the public sector through privatization and deregulation around the globe (Ball, 2003; Chan-Tibergien, 2006; Gaskell, 1995; Kuehn, 2006; Shaker, 1999). This trend has been particularly pronounced in the affluent Western countries, now often referred to as the Global North,                                                  1 Under School Act section 75.1 (1), the Board of School Trustees establishes catchment boundaries for each school in the district. Students who cross the catchment boundaries in order to attend a school outside their established school catchment are referred to as cross-boundary students.   2 This number appears to be an over-estimation of choice students, as it is calculated on the basis of mismatches between student home addresses and catchment schools (M. Pearmain, personal communication, April 4, 2012). Many students in my study told me that they either attended or planned to attend the secondary schools where most of their elementary school classmates had enrolled. In other words, many choice students attend secondary schools based on where their friends go.    3 including Canada, which has been under the policy influence of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the OECD, as well as other international organizations that have idealized and espoused the market principles of competition (Rizvi & Lingard, 2010). Indeed, a recent OECD report indicates that the number of OECD countries that allow parents to choose any public school they wish reached 17 (out of 30 countries) in 2008 (OECD, 2010, p. 422). In Canada, where K?12 educational authority lies with provincial governments, four out of ten provinces, including BC, Alberta, Quebec, and Manitoba, have so far adopted policies that promote school choice and the marketization of education.3 In BC, affecting approximately 600,000 students across BC annually, this policy?s move towards inter-school choice marked a symbolic turn away from the provincial government?s century-long commitment to creating neighbourhood-based public schools, which had been upheld in the School Act since 1872.  Despite this rapid spread of school choice around the globe and the province of BC, we currently know little about how students experience school choice practice, whether they are ?chosen? or are ?choosing,? and what meanings they attribute to the concept of official school choice policy in Vancouver, BC, Canada, although there is some research on young people?s experiences of school choice practice in other countries (Gillborn & Youdell, 2000; Heath, 2009; Reay & Lucey, 2002, 2003, 2004). This is indeed troubling, given that a growing number of school choice literature around globe raises concerns that school choice, both as practice and policy, produces negative and harmful consequences for school-aged children and young people. In the UK, for instance, young people from socially and economically marginalized backgrounds who are under geographical and economic constraints find that they have no choice but to attend                                                  3 Since each province has its own educational authority, the federal government of Canada cannot impose a national policy of school choice. I will discuss these changes in detail in Chapter 3.  4 their often low-performing neighbourhood schools (Reay, 2007; Reay & Lucey, 2003). These studies raise some serious questions about ensuring the equality of conditions and the equity outcomes of public school choice in the UK. The pressure to raise school status in terms of student performance has contributed to the ways in which young people experience public schooling as increasingly stratified based on their ?ability? to perform (Gillborn & Youdell, 2000). Also, recent US studies indicate that market incentives encourage schools to improve their status in the market hierarchy by targeting high-achieving students, except in a few cases of charter schools or voucher programs that specifically target marginalized students (Apple, 2004; Levin & Belfield, 2003; Swalwell & Apple, 2011; Wells, 2002, 2009). Charter schools in the three largest urban areas in the US provide limited access to students from socially, racially, and economically marginalized neighbourhoods (Gulosino & Lubienski, 2011; Lubienski, Gulosino, & Weitzel, 2009). In Canada, recent small-scale qualitative studies have found that educational choices are unequally distributed and that possible futures are unequally constructed in ways that reinforce social class hierarchies; consequently, students at low-performing schools feel stigmatized, invisible, neglected and ?warehoused? (Dillabough & Kennelly, 2010; Gaztambide-Fernandez, VanderDussen, & Cairns, 2012). Students in these studies have referred to this as the ?ghetto effect? (Dillabough & Kennelly, 2010).  The current body of school choice literature has thus begun to shed some important light on the insidious effects of school choice and education markets on young people?s experiences of exclusion, demotion, and inequality (see the full review of literature in Chapter 2). Yet these studies have received little attention from both the research and policy communities and have scarcely been followed up in any substantive way. In part, this may be due to the dominant paradigmatic theoretical and epistemological frameworks, which tend to focus on academic  5 performance as the only indicator of quality education. Additionally, this trend may be due to the dominant sociological theory of ?parentocracy,? which has tended to focus school choice studies solely on parents (Brown, 1990). Regardless of the causes, few have studied how the students ?choosing?4 to attend schools other than those assigned to them grasp the landscape and the associated social relations and affective dimensions of school choice. We therefore know little about how students who remain at their assigned schools come to think about their school in relation to the growing pressures and competition of school choice. All of these absences in the Canadian literature, in particular, have thus led many parents and policymakers to believe that school choice is inherently a good thing, and the market?now more commonly referred to as advanced neoliberalism (Lauder et al., 2006)?is the best solution to the problems of the failing public education system, particularly the ever-rising cost of education coupled with concerns about global competitiveness in student performance. However, given the above-mentioned critical body of research that shows the challenges of school choice facing some students and their families, we should ask to what extent school choice within the public system leads to both equal opportunity and equitable outcomes for young people in education (Gewirtz, 2001).  In addition, given the contemporary politico-economic situation, spatial rearrangements, and racial recomposition of the globalizing city of Vancouver, we should ask how the promotion of school choice policy contributes to young people?s experiences of schooling. One important change to note is the rapid increase in immigration from non-European countries to Vancouver,                                                  4 It is important to note that school choice is often a family decision, although who makes the final decision varies based on parents? social and racial backgrounds as well (see Taylor, 2002).  6 BC.5 As a result, school populations have changed drastically with the addition of increasing numbers of racial and ethnic minority students. In 2006, 49% of Vancouver residents were reported to be foreign born; half of Vancouver residents spoke a mother tongue other than the two official languages of English and French (Statistics Canada, 2009).6 Reflecting this diversity, only 40% of secondary school students in Vancouver were born in Canada; 34% speak Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese, and other Chinese dialects) at home (Vancouver School Board, 2012b). Meanwhile, ethnic enclaves are growing across the city. The isolation index, which shows where immigrants are least likely to meet people from outside their own visible-minority group (Keung, 2004), is rising.                                                  5The rapid increase in immigration into the city is in part attributable to the ideal multicultural imaginary of Vancouver as a rising global city?the largest city in BC, with a population of just under 600,000, and the third largest city in Canada. For almost three decades, Vancouver has been ranked as one of the top three most liveable cities in the world by the Economist Intelligence Unit, a division of Britain?s The Economist magazine. Although it does not yet have official endorsement, Vancouver has emerged as a strong contender for the title of global city, as it is an important strategic centre where the intercontinental economic system of finance and trade has been produced, created, and facilitated over the past few decades. Especially since Expo ?86 and the recent 2010 Winter Olympics, Vancouver has received much global attention and praise for its high standard of living, excellent working conditions, safe communities (with low crime rates), and natural beauty. The promotion of Vancouver on many websites highlights the city as a place of economic opportunity, high-quality education, and harmonious multiculturalism as an official provincial policy. A Google search for keywords such as ?Vancouver? and ?immigration? produces many of these websites. For instance, see 6 According to Statistics Canada?s demography division, visible minorities will make up the majority of the population in the Vancouver metropolitan area by 2017, a significant jump from less than 7% in 1981 (Belanger & Malenfant, 2005).   7  Furthermore, over the last two decades or so, Vancouver has seen growing levels of socioeconomic inequality. Between 1980 and 2000, the gap between the rich and the poor increased in Metro Vancouver, an area that includes the city of Vancouver and adjacent municipalities. The residents in the tenth income percentile saw their earnings fall by 25%, while those in the ninetieth percentile saw a rise of 5.3% (Heisz, 2006). Between 1980 and 2000, Metro Vancouver also saw the largest increase in low-income earners of all the Census Metropolitan Areas in Canada, and the increase was found to be concentrated among recent immigrants. This context of urban inequality in Vancouver has a long history and is further manifest in spatial divisions of the city itself. The West Side of the city has been, both historically and at the present moment (while increasingly diversifying), occupied by wealthier residents with white European backgrounds. In contrast, the East Side, with some notable exceptions in current gentrifying neighbourhoods, has more typically been occupied by low-income and more ethnically diverse residents.  Consequently, as my study participants note, young people imagine the West Side schools as ?Caucasian schools,? whereas some East Side schools are imagined to be populated by particular ethnic groups, as expressed in students? use of expressions such as ?Brown school.? The historically shaped and current social geographies of the city thus interact implicitly, and at times explicitly, with the local dynamics of school choice (see the full discussion of the local context in Chapter 3). It is against this background, then, that we need to question the extent to which school choice balkanizes the public school system by class and race in Vancouver, a city  8 being held together by a fragile multiculturalism and highly complex forms of both one-way and reverse migrations.7   In this dissertation, I build upon the aforementioned critical body of school choice research in order to better understand how the focus on the individual decision maker?the liberal autonomous subject unencumbered by the constraints of an integrated public school model from an earlier time?and educational choice in school systems affect young people. In particular, I explore young people?s (ages 11?19) meaning-making of school choice through their lived experiences at a phenomenological and ethnographic level. I have sought to examine more precisely what young people, in contrast to parents, negotiate when choosing schools. Finally, I investigate how such practices of meaning-making shape young people?s ?horizons of possibility? for their lives and futures (Ricoeur, 1991).  1.1 School choice in the context of Vancouver: a focus on mini schools  I use the term ?school choice? to refer to the following three most pervasive forms of choice available in Vancouver schools: open enrolment, District Specified Alternative Programs (locally referred to as mini schools), and French immersion. In 2011?2012, the portion of students who attended cross-boundary schools was 34% of the total student body in the Vancouver School District (Vancouver School Board, 2012b). The total count in the French immersion program was 1,128, while the total student count in District Alternative Programs was 2,716 in the academic year of 2012?2013 (see Table 1) (British Columbia Ministry of Education, 2012).                                                  7 While over 10,000 Chinese immigrants arrive in Vancouver each year, almost a third of these immigrants eventually return to their country of origin (Todd, 2011, Feb 25).  9  Table 1 Student enrolment in District Specified Alternative Programs in 2012?2013 Britannia Hockey Academy 43 Britannia Venture  82 Byng Arts Mini 430 David Thompson Odyssey  124 Gladstone Mini 95 Hamber Challenge  193 Ideal Mini 84 John Oliver Digital Immersion 133 Killarney Mini 79 King George Technology Immersion  44 Magee ? SpArts  146 Point Grey Mini 113 Prince of Wales Mini 147 Templeton Mini 117 Tupper Mini 140 Vancouver Technical Flex Humanities  90 Vancouver Technical Summit  84 Windermere Leadership Mini 134 Windermere Athena Arts  65 University Transition Program  39 City School - King George  30 International Baccalaureate: Churchill 271 International Baccalaureate: Britannia 35 Trek - Prince of Wales  112 Total 2,716 (Source: Vancouver School Board, 2013) *Note: Gladstone?s TREK program is missing in this table.   In this study, my primary focus was on District Specified Alternative Programs. Non-existent before 1970, the number of District Specified Alternative Programs was 12 in 1998, and there were 25 programs in 2013 (Pearmain, 1998; Vancouver School Board, 2013). The Vancouver School Board classifies the District Specified Alternative Programs into three different categories: 21 mini schools, schools within comprehensive urban schools; 1 academy; and 3 other specialized programs (see Vancouver School Board, 2012b). However, due to the exclusive, selective, and enriched nature of all the district alternative programs, I refer to all of  10 these District Specified Alternative Programs as mini schools.8 I chose to focus on mini schools largely because of their growing dominance and competitiveness in the local landscape of school choice.  1.2 Research questions  It is within the radically changing global city contexts of Vancouver, which I described in the introduction, that I explore the impact of school choice policy by focusing on the experiences, meanings, and imaginations of young people whose social, racial, and spatial backgrounds differ strikingly. I examine how their varied experiences of schooling under school choice policy affect the way diverse groups of young people interpret and imagine the possibilities of their lives and, where possible, their academic and social futures in the global city. In exploring the impact of school choice on diverse groups of students, I pay particular attention to students? social, spatial, and racial meaning-making in relation to school choice policy. The following three questions guided my ethnographic study: (1) How do young people from diverse backgrounds conceptualize the effects of new emerging market forces in the public secondary school system, and how do such forces shape the ways in which they imagine their academic and social futures?  (2) How do young people from highly diverse backgrounds experience and understand their places in different urban neighbourhoods, either through immobility or mobility, within growing inequality and ethnic racial divisions in the city of Vancouver, BC?  (3) What role might race and social class play in shaping how young people conceptualize and experience schooling, peer cultures, and inclusion under the market regimes of school choice?                                                    8 In fact, City School, which is one of the schools that the Board excludes from its list of mini schools, describes itself as a mini school on its school website (see  11 1.3 Theoretical landscapes and key concepts  My theoretical approach to understanding young people?s meaning-making of school choice draws upon the concepts of the imagination, the imaginary, and imaginary capital. First, to explore the concept of the imagination, I draw upon the field of critical youth studies that has sought to revive the part played by a phenomenological hermeneutics of interpretation (the art of interpretation) of educational and social inclusion/exclusion in order to consider choice in relation to young peoples? situated imaginations (Dillabough & Kennelly, 2010; Norton, 2001; Ricoeur, 1978; Stoetzler & Yuval-Davis, 2002; Valdes, 1991). Drawing from these theories, I argue that young people make meanings and imagine their futures through both recognition of the divisions they experience through choice as well as through the domain of affect they encounter as their constraints or mobility create a sense of the present and future. These imagined worlds of choice that young people experience are necessarily situated in their lived experiences, in particular in their material conditions and cultural contexts, and their everyday encounters with the world of choice. Their particular social, cultural, racial, and spatial locations are part of crucial matrices of experience that shape young people?s interpretations of the changing imaginaries of school and place and their possible futures. These theoretical concepts thus help us understand that young people?s meaning-making is not completely or solely driven by ideology or discourse; instead, it is the amalgam of social locations interfacing with real-world locations and official and unofficial choice regimes and policy discourse in a particular temporal moment (Dillabough & Kennelly, 2010; McLeod & Yates, 2006; Willis, 1981). I concur with critical youth scholars, particularly Dillabough and Kennelly (2010), who argue that young people?s meanings and imaginaries of changing global cities are made and remade in  12 particular classed, racialized, and spatialized local contexts which are both comparatively and differentially affected by globalization.  I also draw upon the critical policy scholarship of Rizvi and Lingard (2010) and consider that one major function of policy is to shape (but not determine) the social, cultural, national, and urban imaginary that manifests itself in people?s everyday practices. While more explicitly discussed in Chapter 2, I suggest that the concept of the imaginary helps us examine how neoliberalization is not simply about shifting from social welfare approaches to market approaches at the level of governance. It also shapes how people organize themselves in the everyday sense of the world and how they interact with each other. Neoliberalism and its expansion ?steer a particular formation of the subjective or phenomenological awareness of people? (Rizvi & Lingard, 2010, p. 32). In doing so, neoliberalism ?ontologizes the global market logic? (Rizvi & Lingard, 2010, p. 32). The ideas, practices, and various reforms of neoliberalism influence the social imaginary??the ways in which people imagine their social existence? (Taylor, 2004, p. 23). This conceptual lens is particularly useful for examining policy beyond the policy discourse of neoliberalism and for beginning to examine everyday practices.  Finally, in Chapter 8, I conclude by further proposing how the idea of the imaginary can be reconceptualized as capital in order to explore the processes of social, spatial, and racial reproduction through young people?s situated imaginations. I suggest that rethinking imaginary as capital enables an analysis of the imaginary in its embodied, objectified, and institutionalized manifestations. The imaginary can be analyzed as a combination of ideas, practices, ideals (both utopian and dystopian), and objects that are socially, politically, and institutionally created. In this way, the notion of the imaginary can be more analytically productive and can make social inequality and reproduction more explicit than either a singular discourse or structural approach  13 could on its own. The imaginary carries with it both the language of space and place but also the affective and structural dimension of experience, which is structured by histories that have come before the very idea of youth identity itself.  I combine these three theoretical views in order to create an integrative framework that helps explore how young people produce their own understandings of the social imaginary of school choice as both direct and indirect experience in a given place and time. I wish to argue that this approach does not lie in a single theoretical camp arguing for the determination of young people?s conduct but rather serves as part of cultural, discursive and structural forces that operate in the interstices of individuals, time, and place. It is my hope that this framework will assist critical scholarship in extending its theoretical reach when concerned with how people respond to the dominant social imaginary of choice and their futures. I describe this framework further in Chapter 2 and argue that this approach can be fruitful for informing a study of school choice policy from the cultural vantage point of young people?s experience with policy, both as a direct impact but also as something that is unfamiliar and distant.  1.4 Methodology and methods  For this work, I combined critical, anthropological, and interpretive approaches to better illuminate young people?s meanings of school choice policy. As Ball (1994) and Rizvi and Lingard (2010) argue, a critical policy research tradition offers an analytical and deconstructive tool set. This tool set helps examine the social, educational, and political context of education in order to understand the complex effects and consequences of policy. Yet the current tool set of the critical policy research tradition is primarily focused on discourse and thus may be insufficient for my study, which is an attempt to understand young people?s meaning-making and  14 associated cultural and educational practices. Hence, I further drew from the anthropology of policy and interpretive policy approaches to illuminate the complex meaning-making young people expressed as I explored the impact of school choice policy on their lives. Anthropology of policy is particularly powerful in its use of an ethnographic method to delve into the cultural meanings and practices of policy (Shore & Wright, 1997). I further drew upon an interpretive policy research tradition to investigate the meanings and interpretations that youths attribute to policy and its manifestations in everyday practices and structuring processes (Ricoeur, 1991; Yanow, 2000). This combined methodological approach, which I call a critical socio-phenomenological approach to policy studies, provided the necessarily tools for grounding my study of policy in particular class, racial, and spatial contexts. Here, then, I contrast this approach, at least in part, by viewing policy as either disembodied or decontextualized texts or discourses outside of those who must interact with them. This approach, I would argue, can provide a different perspective on the function of a neoliberal imaginary of young people?s lived experiences and meaning-making of ?choice? in a rapidly changing twenty-first-century context (Appadurai, 1996).  I drew upon a multi-sited ethnographic approach to uncover how policy affects different schools, communities, and neighbourhoods locally (Schensul, Schensul, & LeCompte, 1999). During my fieldwork, conducted between November 2009 and June 2010, I began to see ethnography as one approach for gaining close-up and personal insights into the worlds of young people as they experienced choice (Shore & Wright, 1997; Yanow, 2000).9 During the fieldwork period, I collected qualitative data pertaining to an understanding young people?s varied                                                  9 Yet what distinguishes AP analysis is its emphasis on power relations, thus asking whose voices prevail, rather than a postmodernist emphasis on documenting multiple voices and narratives about a particular policy.    15 interpretations of school choice and their futures using interviews, observations, and document analysis. My research activities included the following: ? Attending 16 information evenings at Vancouver mini and regular secondary schools, which are located in urban neighbourhoods with different income levels and ethnic groups, and maintaining extensive field notes  ? Conducting non-participant observations at two comprehensive public secondary schools: one on the East Side (East High) and one on the West Side (West High)10   ? Conducting 59 semi-structured interviews with students at critical times of transition: Grade 7 (the last year of elementary school), Grade 8 (the first year of secondary school), and Grade 12 (the last year of secondary school).  ? Collecting and analyzing the following government documents and statistics relevant to schools and neighbourhoods (for instance, through Hansard, various policy websites and documents, and community profiles): (1) the B.C. Legislative Assembly debates pertaining to public education and its reforms between 1991 and 2006,11 and (2) various policy documents and demographic information from VSB and BC MOE that show changes in demographics and policy changes that affect District Specified Alternative Programs (more details are provided in Chapter 3 and 4).  ? Collecting media articles from The Vancouver Sun (1987?present) and The Vancouver Courier (2002?present),12 found through Canadian Newsstand keyword searches (for terms including ?Fraser Institute Report Cards,? ?school choice,? ?mini schools,? ?drugs,? ?gangs,? ?East Side,? and ?West Side? to explore the local media discourses of school choice as well as the popular public discourse of social and neighbourhood contexts of school choice. I discuss these further in Chapter 4).  Chapter 4 provides further specifics of analytic strategies and methods.                                                    10 ?West High? and ?East High? are pseudonyms.  11This period included a centre-left NDP-led government (1991?2001) and a centre-right Liberal-led government (2001?2006). 12 The Vancouver Sun is the major province-wide newspaper, and The Vancouver Courier is the major city-wide newspaper. I performed a keyword search for all the years available in the Canadian Newsstand database.  16 1.5 Who and where: Grades 7, 8, and 12 at East High and West High  At the heart of my study are the perspectives of young people from highly diverse backgrounds. I recruited 59 young people who come from a wide range of social positions and with particular ethnic, religious, and racialized historical narratives of personal and family life. I explored the geopolitical and cultural manifestation of borders and space to further investigate how young people imagined such borders and notions of space (Balibar, 1998), as well as assessing to some degree the part played by geographical mobility and its impact on young people. I investigated the differential effects of policy and assessed the question of who most benefits from these policies. My participants? residential backgrounds ranged from social housing, to mixed-income and gentrifying neighbourhoods, through to multimillion-dollar homes in highly affluent neighbourhoods. Some participants were recent immigrants, while others came from families who had long been established in Canada. Students? cultural backgrounds were also diverse and included Aboriginal, Asian, European, Middle-Eastern, and African communities. In terms of participation in school choice, some participants were enrolled at their assigned neighbourhood schools, while others were enrolled at mini schools or cross-boundary schools. Of note is that my study is not intended to simply report the multiple voices of youths without taking into consideration something about their past and present positioning in the social order of the city.  My fieldwork began with observations of young learners and their parents listening to information, asking questions, and meeting school staff and students at the 16 secondary school information evenings. There, I also recruited 11 of my 14 Grade 7 study participants, who were in their last year of elementary school. My subsequent interviews with them involved asking  17 about their perceptions and experiences (where applicable) of the processes of selecting, evaluating, and choosing a particular local school.  To illuminate the impact of school choice on everyday school experiences and socialization, I worked in two different secondary schools: West High, which is representative of the more general characteristics of the affluent West Side, and East High, which is more generally representative of the low-income communities but also the rapidly gentrifying neighbourhoods of the East Side. I examined the comparative spatial dynamics of the two public schools and their adjacent neighbourhoods. The two schools, while established around the same period in the early twentieth century, were imagined quite differently from the beginning. Reflecting its neighbourhood and community characteristics, which I discussed above, East High was originally imagined as a vocational school. West High, in contrast, was (and is) imagined as a school for the children of upper- and middle-class families who value university-stream liberal education. These historically and class-differentiated educational aspirations of the two schools continue today. They manifest in the strong academic reputation (and indeed the globally well-regarded status) of West High. In fact, in the Fraser Institute?s Yearly School Report Card, West High has been consistently ranked as one of the top public schools in recent years in the province of British Columbia. In contrast, although East High?s focus has become more diversified, which reflects the changing class characteristics of the surrounding neighbourhoods, it continues to be subject to the negative stereotypes and imaginary of inner city schools, as I discuss in Chapter 6.  Within these two large urban public neighbourhood schools, I observed the everyday practices and dynamics of two mini schools and the French immersion program at East High and one prestigious mini school at West High. My observations focused on how these different types of schools defined, practiced, and projected particular ideological and cultural norms and values  18 onto the school landscape. By focusing on the dynamics of these alternative programs, I have analyzed and documented the effects of choosing mini schools on the ways young people imagine their educational and social futures. In doing so, I observed the dynamics of school choice, and the role of choice within and across large urban schools that regulate and shape diverse young people?s educational and social imaginations, particularly in relation to experiences of inclusion and exclusion, peer cultures, race relations, and educational futures.  My observation of students was followed by semi-structured interviews with Grade 8 and Grade 12 students. I purposely included students with diverse backgrounds as well as different school choice positions (i.e., whether they chose or not). I recruited 19 students at East High and 26 at West High. The high number at West High reflects the fact that more school choice students attend West High. Of the total number of students, 22 students were in Grade 8. I focused on Grade 8s because these students were in their first year of secondary school, and thus they were likely to have more critical views and experiences of the gap between their expectations and realities a few months after they made the transition from elementary to secondary school. I asked them to reflect retrospectively on the processes of choosing in Grade 8 and also to discuss their subsequent schooling experiences (including both challenges and possibilities associated with school choice). I also focused on Grade 12 students to examine their experiences of school choice in a summative sense, to explore what they perceived as the overall effects of school choice throughout their secondary school years, and to gather their assessments of the impact of school choice on their future directions. I thus asked them to reflect on how the process of school choice had affected their secondary school outcomes, socialization, and future plans.  19  Further, I drew upon a wide-ranging set of documentary information. I collected and analyzed various policy position papers, websites, and statistics pertaining to these schools that were obtained from the local school board (VSB) and the BC Ministry of Education. At the provincial level, my data included transcripts of legislative assembly debates (i.e., Hansard). This source was particularly useful as it allowed me to see the politics of school choice from the standpoint of an official public record and compare these with different perspectives about the nature and development of school policy. I also collected and analyzed major local newspapers, mainly The Vancouver Sun and The Vancouver Courier. For instance, after I conducted interviews with several students who mentioned that drugs and gangs were major concerns for them, I performed keyword searches for ?drugs,? ?gangs,? and ?Vancouver secondary schools.? I found several articles that addressed the problems of drugs in local secondary schools. They were assessed to contextualize and provide descriptive details to accompany the school choice narratives of young people. I provide further details of my data collection in Chapter 4.  1.6 Arguments and chapter outlines  In presenting the findings of this study of school choice and young people in the following seven chapters, I demonstrate the part played by school choice policy in the classification of schools and young people. I also demonstrate the role of such policies in dividing urban neighbourhoods along race and class lines and reproducing particular conceptions of urban schools and neighbourhoods. Throughout, based on my analysis of the multiple forms of data I collected, I argue that choice policies in Vancouver, BC, regulate and reproduce circulating ideas about class and race advantages. Primarily, what I wish to argue is that the theoretical ideas of the imagination, the imaginary, and imaginary capital (Anderson, 1991;  20 Dillabough & Kennelly, 2010; Kearney, 2004; Ricoeur, 1981, 1991) are critical to understanding the broader impact of school choice policy on young people?s schooling experiences, social relationships, and future expectations. The significance of these concepts in studying school choice policy can be summarized as follows: When students begin to imagine new schooling options and practices, not simply a school?s academic standing but also its grounding in particular cultural understandings of status, young people?s senses of selfhood, identity, and future are imagined differently. As such, while students are concerned with academic as well as social futures, their interpretations of school choice are always developed along spatial lines and urban divisions (i.e., socio-geographic), along with associated ideals of ?good? and/or ?bad? schools and neighbourhoods. Their imagined and, at times, stereotypical interpretations of racialized neighbourhoods and associated schools also become crucial to their racial meaning-making of school choice. My study suggests the importance of understanding the dialectics between young people?s imagined sense of the community and the now pervasive and global models of advanced liberal imaginaries of school choice. These dual functions interface with local histories in radically changing urban contexts.  To briefly outline the remaining chapters, in Chapter 2, I outline some of the key trends and concepts in the sociology of school choice while identifying critical research gaps. The literature review demonstrates how the field has been dominated by two main strands of structural and post-structural perspectives, leaving the theoretical and empirical landscape of the field highly polarized. As one way to integrate and expand these two robust strands of thinking, I suggest that additional importance be placed on young people?s imagined social worlds of choice and the wider global imaginary of choice. I go on to discuss how an interdisciplinary approach drawn from multiple disciplines, including cultural geography, phenomenology, and youth  21 studies, may offer one way of moving the field of critical policy studies forward or, at the very least, open up debates about theoretical impasses that plague the sociology of education more generally.  In Chapter 3, I present contextual information to better explain the changing yet historically enduring politics, discourses, practices, and policies of school choice. Because of the colonial history of Vancouver, BC, Canadian schools have always been imagined along class and race lines that demarcate insiders and outsiders. I trace some of these local histories of schooling that are pertinent to the imagination of different ethnic, social, and racial communities through practices of school choice before the Liberal government?s 2002 introduction of school choice policies. Also, I discuss the changing neoliberal reforms and politics around promoting private and independent schools, as well as alternative programs within the public system, and how these new schools and programs continue to construct and imagine schools as different communities. In Chapter 4, I discuss my critical socio-phenomenological approach. To understand the dynamics of school choice from young people?s situated and multiple perspectives, I add anthropological and interpretive approaches to a critical policy research tradition so that we can better understand young people?s diverse meanings of school choice. Here, I further provide the details of my multi-sited ethnographic methods and discuss researcher positionality and research values, as well as how I grappled with issues of power and authority in the field.  In the remaining three chapters?5, 6, and 7?I provide detailed descriptions, analyses, and interpretations of the ethnographic data I collected at various school choice sites in Vancouver. In Chapter 5, I argue that young people?s meanings of school choice are class-differentiated. Those who are middle class, or aspire to become middle class, hold fast to the neoliberal imaginary of education and competitive schooling models and seek out opportunities  22 to gain social status through such an imaginary. These students are therefore regulated into imagining themselves as neoliberal subjects by engaging in activities that shape them into learners who are competitive, self-responsible, and flexible with respect to where they are schooled. In this process, more privilege and symbolic profit are given to those who achieve neoliberal distinction. My analysis in this chapter, therefore, points out that class is not disappearing, but rather school choice policy functions as a mechanism of reconstituting the social and governmental classification of young people in the global city. In this case, class is a kind of classification system that is reconfigured under the model of school choice but continues to breed deep divisions in and across urban schools. In other words, on the surface of school choice lies a picture of liberal autonomy that represents itself in the guise of choice. Yet, as the data analyses suggest, its very function serves to undermine the visibility of class relations and simultaneously reproduces class hierarchies.  In Chapter 6, I explore how young people?s practices, interpretations, and imaginations of school choice in Vancouver are related to the ?global city? imaginary (Sassen, 1991, 2005). I discuss the urban imaginary of Vancouver in relation to its rising global city status as well as its historically entrenched and divided urban neighbourhoods. In particular, I point to the recurring moral anxieties surrounding gangs and failed communities in inner cities so as to understand the social and moral forces that shape the social geography of Vancouver. Within this context, I examine how young people?s school choices are spatially imagined in relation to the urban geography of drugs, gangs, and poverty. Consequently, my analysis sheds light on the ways young people?s spatial meanings of school choice are not only produced by but also contribute to the production and reproduction of the urban imaginary.  23  In the penultimate data chapter, I showcase how race, particularly racial meanings and stereotypes, factor into school choice dynamics. I first present evidence of the racialized experiences of school choice mobility. I discuss how this evidence reveals traces of an earlier colonial racial imaginary (as everyday practice rather than as discourse) and the post-colonial urban divisions that have been created as a result of this historical legacy in Vancouver. I then discuss how the education market processes and outcomes coalesce with historically shaped and contemporary moral panics around racialized ethnic minority groups. My analysis explains how school choice policy functions as a new cultural process of division, racialization, and (re)production of the dominant national imaginary of Canada. The dominant national imaginary of Canada is defined as the cultural practice of ?middle-class whiteness,? which continue to produce ideals of the legitimate student and ?foreign others? (Said, 1994/1978). I then conclude that the market, as an advanced neoliberal policy framework, contributes to the production of racial objectification, oversimplification, and stereotyping.  In the final chapter, I elaborate on the key contributions of this study as they relate to young people?s meaning-making of school choice and the larger body of school choice literature and critical educational policy studies. In addition, I revisit the concept of the imaginary and discuss how it can be reconceptualized as capital rather than habitus to illuminate the processes of social reproduction in the education market. Lastly, while highlighting the importance of including young people?s perspectives in policymaking, I further discuss the importance of understanding the salience of social processes underpinning school choice in future reformulations of school choice policy.  24 Chapter  2: The concept of the imagination in school choice research  This chapter has two major aims. The first aim is to provide a critical review of literature that focuses on the social, spatial, and political contexts and outcomes of school choice. The topics included in this review are the impacts of school choice on social, racial, and spatial divisions and stratifications and, further, the power of school choice policy on shaping individual conducts in alignment with the rationality of the market.13 The second aim is to present a fresh interdisciplinary theoretical framework that conceptualizes the impact of school choice on the manner in which young people imagine their futures. In the first part, I outline some of the key trends and concepts, as well as ?illuminating moments and critical impasses,? that have developed in school choice research over the last 20 years, mostly in the affluent West, including Canada, the UK, the US, Australia, and New Zealand (Dillabough, 2006, p. 47).14 I intend to provide a critical survey of current literature that identifies some key research gaps in the sociological study of the marketization of education at the primary and secondary level across the globe. I divide my discussion into two theoretical strands: structuralism and post-structuralism. I do so with the recognition that there are many overlaps between these traditions and that each approach is not easily categorized under one theoretical umbrella term. This                                                  13 While there is a large body of research about the impacts of school choice policy on school efficiency, curriculum, teaching, innovation, and student/parent satisfaction (see Levin & Belfield, 2003), I will not be discussing them in this review. 14 Because my research is an ethnographic study of school choice in an urban area in the affluent, developed nation of Canada, my literature review focuses on the phenomenon of school choice and education markets as experienced in the affluent West.     25 notwithstanding, a key distinction to keep in mind is that, under the umbrella term ?structuralism,? I discuss the role that social structures and hierarchical power relations play in the dynamics of school choice. In contrast, under the term ?post-structuralism,? I review critical studies that assess the power of neoliberal discourses of choice in shaping contemporary neoliberal subjectivities. In this discussion of current school choice literature, I showcase the market?s impact on young people as much as possible given the very limited body of work in that area. In the second part, I delineate my theoretical approach to a critical policy study of school choice and young people. I discuss how school choice policy can be studied afresh through an integrative framework that brings structural and post-structural traditions together. As Ball (1994) argues, a combined structural and post-structural approach can provide ?nuanced interpretations of local concerns and conditions while analyzing the frameworks of possibilities and constraints given the political and economic context of education policy? (p.84). Some integrative approaches have been taken in both school choice scholarship and in the wider field of social research (Dillabough & Kennelly, 2010; Gulson, 2004; McLeod & Yates, 2006; Peters, 2003; Reay et al., 2007), and this study is my addition to this important body of work.  In the second part of this chapter, I elaborate on how the approach I have taken can shed light on the relationship between policy as something that is tied to the past but emerges anew in socially situated young people?s imagined ideals of their everyday school desires and their futures. Underpinning this line of thinking is my view that the practices and experiences of school choice are widely connected to the urban, national, and global imaginaries, which reflect people?s sense of belonging and security in globalizing cities.  26 As such, through the use of three concepts, the imaginary, the imagination, and imaginary capital, I seek to forge a new way to broadly rethink the function of the education market in young people?s lives. My intent is to engage with ideas of generous scholarship in moving beyond the current theoretical (and methodological) approaches that have shaped the field of school choice. I ask, in what ways could we go beyond the normalized practices of education market research to better illuminate the deep impact that school choice has on the way young people imagine their present lives and social and academic futures in the global era?  2.1 Literature review: sociology of school choice The sociology of school choice is a rapidly expanding sub-field of the sociology of education (Butler, Hamnett, Ramsden, & Webber, 2007). Its key contribution has been to refocus educational research on the material outcomes and associated inequalities of education market policy, aspects that some argue have been largely neglected since the post-structural turn within the wider realm of educational and social research (Dillabough, 2006; Peters, 2003). Nevertheless, this field is not solely focused on material inequality but is further concerned with the affective and cultural dimensions of school choice. In navigating this expanding field of school choice scholarship, I discuss the existing studies under the two theoretical umbrellas of structuralism and post-structuralism with an understanding that this division may be contentious to some, as the two approaches overlap to some extent. Nevertheless, following Gillborn and Youdell?s (2009) framework, I want to suggest that the existing body of research can be divided?at least for discussion in terms of research trends?into two main categories of theory because they tend to theorize power, agency, race, and discourse differently. These distinctions have meaningful consequences for empirical  27 approaches to school choice policy studies. As such, within the two broad approaches of structuralism and post-structuralism, I explore the issues of class, race, gender, space, and policy. I further highlight some of the most innovative studies that draw from both structuralism and post-structuralism, especially those undertaken by critical feminist youth studies scholars, a field that has not yet, apart from a few exceptions (Dillabough & Kennelly, 2010; McLeod & Yates, 2006), had a substantial impact on school choice studies.  2.1.1 Divergence and convergence in structuralist analyses of school choice Within traditional structuralist approaches, especially those that do not embrace neo-Marxist approaches and those that draw upon positivistic and quantitatively oriented approaches, the dominant view is to understand social categories (e.g., class, gender, race, and space) as fixed, deterministic, and essential. Within this positivistic tradition of structuralism, social groups are seen as discrete, quantifiable, and measurable categories. Nonetheless, not all structuralist researchers and theorists adhere to such assumptions. Some critical qualitative studies have argued that the notions of class, gender, and race are neither essential nor deterministic. The work of these scholars, including that of Diane Reay (Reay et al., 2008; Reay et al., 2007), troubles fixed, categorical notions of class, gender, and race, as they incorporate a post-structural emphasis on regulative rather than deterministic power relations in particular places and spaces. In other words, it is important to note the divergent assumptions that underpin empirical studies within the structuralist perspective. In the following discussion, I am attentive to these distinctions within the broad tradition of structural analysis.  Despite this important distinction within the structurally based analyses of school choice and education markets, there is consistently a fair degree of certainty that middle-class parents  28 across the globe tend to focus on their children?s school success while ensuring their children?s future opportunities (Alegre & Benito, 2012; Crozier et al., 2008; Reay et al., 2008). The last three decades of school choice studies from around the world suggest that school choice ?emerges as a major new factor in maintaining and indeed reinforcing social-class divisions and inequalities? (Alegre & Benito, 2012; Gewirtz, Ball, & Bowe, 1995, p. 23). Together, these studies challenge some postmodern proclamations?such as the ?death of class??by showing that parents are not ahistorical, autonomous, and equal consumers of public education or education markets (Bowe, Gewirtz, & Ball, 1994). Economic globalization and education reforms The relationship between education and class has been critically illuminated by a macro-sociological perspective discerning the link between education market reforms and global economic changes forged over the past four decades. One notable contribution is Phil Brown?s (1990, 1995, 2000) analyses of education marketization in relation to the broader social and economic changes that have taken place since the 1970s. As Brown (1995) delineates in great detail, new economies have established a ?flexible? organization paradigm, which disrupts bureaucratic, stable employment contracts and relations with a culture of enterprise, downsizing, and restructuring. This new structure and culture of economy has produced increasingly flexible rather than bureaucratic careers. This change has also created economic insecurity and employment anxiety as parts of a new economic and social life. Brown attributes this change to the rising desires of middle-class parents to push their children towards the obtainment of post-compulsory education that can act as a kind of ?insurance? against economic and social insecurity in the new flexible global economy.  29 Additionally, Brown (2000) observes how the culture of individual choice, as exemplified in school choice, has intensified class inequalities and conflict. He notes that the shift from the welfare state to neoliberal systems of governance and drastic cuts in public resources and infrastructure has decreased investment in public education. Instead, the shift promotes the individualistic strategy of choice to compensate for the retrenchment of the public system. Within both the political dynamics of neoliberal globalization and the Hayekian economic model of governance and society, Brown (1990, 2000) argues that the British education reforms of school choice introduced a new era of ?parentocracy.? This new phenomenon of parentocracy indicates the growing importance of parents? wealth and desires in shaping the educational opportunities and outcomes of their children. As such, Brown suggests that we understand the rise of the marketization and privatization of education through Fred Hirsch?s (1976) idea of positional competition, that is, ?how one stands relative to others within an implicit or explicit hierarchy? (Cited in Brown, 2000, p. 633). Another study that has contributed significantly to this global perspective of economic change and education market is that of Amy Wells et al., focusing on the Californian context (Wells, 2002; Wells, Lopez, Scott, & Holme, 1999). In this study, Wells and her colleagues elucidate the importance of understanding the conditions of global economic developments in relation to the rise of charter schools. Charter schools are a new type of public school governed independently from local school boards. This multi-sited study strongly suggests that the current US reform effort for education marketization benefits more privileged members of society through free market policies or neoliberal tax policies. This is the result of some charter schools being located in affluent neighbourhoods that tend to have access to wealth and an extended network of parental resources. In contrast, other charter schools are in racialized neighbourhoods  30 with high levels of poverty and unemployment and limited access to private means (Scott & Holme, 2002; Wells, 2002). While those charter schools offer new sites of cultural recognition and political organizing, thus empowering historically marginalized communities and individuals, Wells et al. (1999) conclude that the uneven realities of economic globalization and its manifestations in public policies results in unequal resources distribution, contributing to growing divisions within socially and economically marginalized communities as well as across socially distinctive communities. In Canada, the work of Alison Taylor and her colleagues (Taylor, 2006; Taylor & Krahn, 2009; Taylor & MacKay, 2008; Taylor & Woollard, 2003) has contributed significantly to our understanding of the interface between a changing economy under the forces of economic and cultural globalization and the neoliberal reforms of education marketization. Situated in Alberta, the leading province of market reforms in Canada, her study shows how choice and competition in the education sector have individualized risk and, in turn, how this policy direction has tended to ?reinforce socially structured inequalities and encourage the commodification of social relations? (Taylor & Woollard, 2003, p. 617). Particularly, looking at the impact of neoliberal reforms of education on vocational education, in the context of the growing demand for high skills in a knowledge economy, Taylor (2006) observes rising polarization in the educational pathways. Elite academic alternative programs gain more popularity among parents, and thus schools, and attract high-achieving students, thereby increasing the advantages of those who are already achieving well. Meanwhile, trade programs tend to be less popular and are offered largely to students with working-class backgrounds. In globally portable curriculums, such as the International Baccalaureate program, students gain credentials that open up more opportunities at  31 the global level, whereas trade-related programs tend to limit opportunities to the students? regional areas (Taylor, 2006). The IB program, in fact, has been increasingly noted as a way by which a transnational ruling class might secure advantageous positions in the era of neoliberal globalization (Brown & Lauder, 2009). While this program traditionally catered to the children of professional global workers, today, national elites increasingly enrol their children in this program because it grants internationally recognized and competitive credentials, meaning that those with IB credentials are globally competitive (Brown & Lauder, 2009). As Taylor (2006) notes above, the IB program is popular as a local alternative program to the provincial curriculum, resulting in the cream-skimming of the brightest students from other public schools. This phenomenon has been observed in Australia, as well, where 57 of the country?s schools now offer the IB Diploma (Doherty, Mu, & Shield, 2009). As Brown and Lauder (2009) note, the IB program not only helps build globally desirable characters (attractive to multinational corporations) but also helps these students obtain credentials deemed critical for success in the global economic labour market. The IB program provides an opportunity for students to increase their capacity for crossing national boundaries with a competitive edge (Doherty et al., 2009). Consequently, choice programs such as the IB, which are growing across the globe as a new ?gold standard? for education, provide a secured path between elite universities and high-end segments of the global labour market and thus contribute to the creation of a new transnational ruling class (Brown & Lauder, 2009, p. 135). Together, these American, British, Canadian, and Australian studies with a macro-politico-economic perspective identify the uneven material outcomes of economic globalization regarding the stratification and deregulation of public schools. These links between class,  32 education, and economy have also been observed elsewhere, such as in New Zealand (Lauder et al., 1999) and Sweden (Lindstr?m, 1999). They inform us that school choice practice is a class strategy to obtain a positional advantage in an era of intensifying global competition and labour market pressure. Subsequently, family resources play a central role in the market structure of education and the reproduction of school inequalities. The following section discusses how this macro pattern of economy, class, and school choice operates in the micro context of choice practice. Cultural sociology and middle classes in the education market  Viewing class through a socio-cultural lens, especially drawing on Bourdieu?s three concepts of habitus, capital, and field, has provided a compelling focus for exploring the social and cultural dimensions of school choice at the individual level. Indeed, even in Brown?s (1995) thesis, it is clear that he was concerned not only with economic capital but also with the obtainment of cultural capital that was critical to securing a middle-class position in the 1990s global economic reconfiguration. One particularly notable early study on the everyday process of the education market is Gewirtz, Ball, and Bowe?s 1995 study. Drawing on Bourdieu?s socio-cultural approach, their study marks a radical sociological turn. Their study began as a critique of the earlier investigations of Coldron and Boulton (1991) and Echols, McPherson and Willims (1990), which reported how the market system was making schools more responsive to parents? priorities and which identified (but did not problematize) reasons, factors, and certainties for individual choice (see Gewirtz et al., 1995). Gewirtz et al. (1995) insightfully note that these studies are limited as they lack insight into the processes and the contexts of choice-making.  33  In addition, their study compellingly directs our attention to the relational process of choice-making, which implies culturally and socially specific meanings of parental choice in a particular social milieu. In particular, drawing from Bourdieu?s concept of taste, the authors illuminate the covert coding and decoding between a parent?s choice of school and a school?s style of presentation, which have been similarly explored in the American context by Lopez et al. (2002). Gewirtz et al. (1995) also showed that educational selection and social class are intricately and covertly connected to the micro processes of school choice. Through a cultural system of symbols and tastes exchanged in the education economy, the middle classes are both united and separated by their homology and distinction from the ?others.? As such, Gewirtz et al. (1995) were able to demonstrate the link between school choice and consumer ?preferences? (Brown, 1990), or what Bourdieu (1984) defines as ?taste,? a term that embodies social structures and relations. This finding, resonating notably with later studies done by Lopez et al. (2002) and Reay and Ball (1997), continues to illuminate the covert cultural processes of social reproduction in the development and practices of education markets.  One influential thought that has emerged from these class-focused analyses of school choice and education market research, especially in the context of Britain, is that school choice policy is deeply implicated in the ontology of a middle-class position in the practice of social reproduction. British educational sociologist Stephen Ball (2003) has contributed significantly to elucidating the sociological relationship between school choice and education markets. Ball claims, ?class is about knowing how to act at these defining moments? on the basis of accumulated and everyday practices in particular social class positions (Ball, 2003, p. 7). He thus argues that school choice needs to be understood in relation to everyday class practices.  34  What is further notable about the reproductive capacity of the middle classes is their social network of privilege (Alegre & Benito, 2012; Ball, 2003). In order to safeguard against uncertainties and diversification, middle-class families rely considerably on their social networks, such as family and professional affiliations, which provide high-quality information about different schools and curricula (Alegre & Benito, 2012). Both Ball?s (2003) and Alegre and Benito?s (2012) studies therefore indicate that middle-class parents tend to have easier and faster access to the informally circulating ?hot knowledge? that emerges from a reliable and direct circuit of formal and especially informal information in their privileged social network. Their advantageous position in relation to both informal and formal social networks matters to their social reproduction, especially when compared to the displacement experiences of migrant families (Byrne & De Tona, 2012).  These important insights elucidate how those in middle-class positions normalize the practices of deploying capital and advancing social positions by excluding the groups that may be seen as competing with their advantages.15 Ball is therefore critical of the implementation of market reforms in education as being ?essentially a class strategy which has as one of its major effects the reproduction of relative social class (and ethnic) advantages and disadvantages? (2003, p. 4, original italics). This analysis continues to be reflected in many current studies that point to the use of resources, desire, and networks by the middle class in an attempt to maintain                                                  15 Ball?s view is similar to the Weberian theory that the monopolization of opportunities and rewards by particular groups contributes to inequality (Turner, 2006). In other words, groups maintain power and status by organizing formal and informal systems of social closure that open and close access to certain resources based on group identification. Group membership is therefore a critical source of socio-economic advantage.   35 and improve their social positions through available school choices around the world (Ball, 2003; Gulson, 2011; Raveaud & van Zanten, 2007; Wells, 2009; Wu, 2011; Yoon & Gulson, 2010).  Nonetheless, it is important to acknowledge those who challenge the ways in which middle-class practices are normalized with respect to school choice. Middle-class families are not assumed to behave uniformly or to use the same type of class strategies to advance their interests over those of other families. Parental values, personal values, national/local ethos, and political views do affect choice behaviors among middle-class parents (Ball, 2003; Butler & van Zanten, 2007; Or?a et al., 2007; Raveaud & van Zanten, 2007; Reay, 2005). A growing number of scholars have thus argued that middle-class status is not always exclusive of social and ethnic others. Drawing on post-structural insights, these scholars no longer straightforwardly conceptualize the analytical categories of class, gender, and race. While positivistic analyses of school choice continue to rely on fixed notions of identity, it should be noted that critical qualitative researchers have moved beyond what is sometimes seen as a deterministic analysis of the relationships between school choice policy and class locations. These scholars, notably Crozier et al. (2008) and Reay et al. (2008), have done so by exposing the complex interactions between cultural values, emotive processes, and discursive policy practices. This nuanced approach to structural analysis with a post-structural approach to subjectivity, performativity, and discourse provides an important foundation for framing future studies, including the work of this thesis.  In the following section, I discuss the affective and spatial dimensions of school choice as they relate to class disparity. I then review research on the racial dynamics of school choice before I move on to a discussion of post-structurally informed market research.   36 Affective and gendered dimensions of school choice  Critical gender and feminist scholars have compellingly shown how the market system and associated school choice activities are highly emotional processes, mediated by class habitus as well as gendered, racialized, and classed power relations (Byrne & De Tona, 2012; Dehli, 1996a; Hey, 1996; Reay, 1998). The importance of emotion has emerged from a long-held view that class identities are deeply embedded in one?s ?structures of feelings,? which in turn shape the patterns of school choice participation and decision-making (Ball, 2003; Gewirtz et al., 1995; Power, Edwards, Whitty, & Wigfall, 2003; Robson & Butler, 2001).  The most notable research linking emotion and school choice is Diane Reay?s (2004) extensive work on emotional capital, women, and social class. Her critical insight emerges from identifying the emotional distance of individuals from formal education systems, which is often a result of those individuals attending class-biased formal schools. Reay (2004) notes that such experience is important in identifying the embodied working-class habitus, which informs the class-differentiated practice of school choice. This theory illuminates how working-class parents? own alienating experiences of formal schooling influence their practice of school choice for their children (Reay & Ball, 1997). Emotional ties and capital are therefore key to understanding the dynamics of school choice, which are underpinned by the degree of parental participation (e.g., in gathering information and deploying more private resources). While it is difficult to theorize any straightforward relationship between class, emotion, and education, Reay (2005) argues that the affective dimension of class, ?a powerful dynamic between emotions, the psyche and class inequalities,? is now produced and reproduced in the new marketplace of education (Bourdieu, 1999; Reay, 2005, p. 911).  37  Further, studies from the US, the UK, and Australia show that parents? emotional engagement with their children?s schooling is a gendered process. Current research shows that mothers tend to experience a more intense emotional engagement when it comes to choosing a school in the education market, as they tend to be more heavily involved in the process (Cooper, 2007; Reay, 2004; Smith, 1989). Mothers invest more of their emotional energy into ensuring children?s well-being and academic success; as such, they tend to experience an extensive range of emotions in relation to their children?s schooling, such as guilt, anxiety, frustration, and empathy (Reay, 2004). Working-class mothers (especially ethnic minorities) who have negative experiences of formal schooling are further challenged when participating in their children?s school choice (Cooper, 2007; Reay, 2004).  Particularly, US scholar Cooper (2007) suggests that the processes of low-income African-American mothers? school choice for their children are replete with frustration and anger at the inequities that they themselves experienced as well as the devaluation and disrespect that they think their children receive in the education system. Furthermore, the experiences of migrant mothers in Manchester, UK, reveal the gendered differences in access to, and participation in, school choice (Byrne & De Tona, 2012). Byrne and De Tona?s (2012) research shows that migrant mothers tend to experience greater social isolation and cultural conflict when participating in their children?s school choice and more broadly in the school system. This body of research illuminates how emotional links in the intergenerational practice of school choice are important in understanding class, gender, race, and the educational policy of choice.  Most relevant to my research interests is the compelling work generated by critical youth scholars, especially those who have shown how market processes and consequences affect young people in a multicultural and post-industrial urban context. Lucey and Reay (2002) and  38 Dillabough and Kennelly (2010) illustrate the emotional processes of school choice and reveal the ways in which particular schools come to be ?demonized? in the minds of young children, affecting both their present and future lives. These negative consequences are the most damaging for low-income and ethnic minority immigrant and refugee youths. These young people feel chained to ?demonized? schools and neighbourhoods, a feeling that contributes in hindering their formation of a constructive learning identity, which is necessary in a lifelong learning society (Ball, Macrae, & Maguire, 1999; Dillabough, Kennelly, & Wang, 2007; Lucey & Reay, 2002). In other words, in the intensifying dynamics of the education market, working-class young people who are already marginalized in the urban context experience a heightened feeling of being ?demonized? and ?warehoused? in their inner-city schools (Dillabough & Kennelly, 2010; Reay & Lucey, 2003). Meanwhile, Reay and Lucey (2002) also note that middle-class children endure the burden of carrying the ?beacon of excellence? and experience stress due to performance anxiety, competition, and feelings of inadequacy. Historically shaped and currently changing unequal spatial conditions The aforementioned studies of young people and their spatial meaning-making practices are particularly notable examples of another major development: a spatial turn in the school choice literature of the past decade. An increasing number of scholars have drawn from theories of human geography and critical space theories to investigate?both quantitatively and qualitatively?the importance of a range of issues, including proximity, distance, neighbourhoods, and spatial imaginary, in the dynamics of the education market (Gulson & Pedroni, 2011; Gulson & Symes, 2007; Lubienski & Dougherty, 2009; Taylor, 2002, 2009).  39 One important contribution has been the focus on investigating school choice dynamics in relation to historical geographies?which are stubbornly embedded in the spatial relations of urban life and schooling (Andr?-Bechely, 2007). Andre-Bechely (2007), Lucey and Reay (2002), and Byrne and De Tona (2012) note that students in marginalized urban areas have limited access to choice because of the distances that often separate them from the affluent areas of the city. With limited means (e.g., time and transportation, which can be costly in urban centres with complicated transit systems), these individuals, who tend to be working-class and ethnic others, are unable to accomplish the forms of choice that provide them with educational opportunities and advantages (Andr?-Bechely, 2007). In other words, school choice is entangled with historically shaped geographical ?artifacts of past and present racism? (Pulido, 2000, cited in Andr?-Bechely, 2007, p. 1361). Further highlighting these historical and geographical patterns of classed and racialized neighbourhoods and schooling, Chris Taylor (2009) has contributed significantly to the conceptualization of geography of school choice with an investigation of the uneven local and national geographies of competition, school choice, and education markets. Through the novel concept of competition space, an area in which particular types of schools are in competition with each other, Taylor (2009) notes that not all schools compete in the same way or to the same extent. This insight, echoing an earlier study by Ball et al. (1995), demonstrates that similar types of schools, which target similar class and racial groups, compete against each other within particular geographic boundaries. As such, Taylor identifies the historical formation as well as the current redevelopment of urban geography (with concurrent educational provision and catchment areas) as key aspects to be taken into consideration when we try to understand the expansion of school choice and its impact on spatialized social segregation.  40 Some particularly notable studies showcasing the links between the education market and urban space are based in the inner cities of major urban centres, as explored in the work of Butler and Robson (2003), Gulson (2011), and Lipman (2008). In all these studies, we find that the urban housing market, urban renewal policies, and the development of the education market are closely linked, especially in the increasingly gentrified urban cores of London, Sydney, Vancouver, and Chicago. Whether intentionally or not, school choice policies provide a policy platform on which to produce and maintain an exclusive social and educational community of white middle-class families gentrifying the inner city neighbourhoods, resulting in the displacement of long-term low-income residents and people of colour (Gulson, 2011; Lipman, 2008). In this way, school choice tends to create further divisions within the increasingly multicultural, economically polarizing neighbourhoods of major urban centres. This body of work illuminates the interplay of urban renewal, education policy, and identity formation. Further, the studies of Lubienski and his colleagues (Gulosino & Lubienski, 2011; Lubienski & Dougherty, 2009; Lubienski et al., 2009) document different educational options across diverse, and often segregated, social and racial landscapes in the US. They note the exclusionary strategies that schools embrace in order to enhance their market positions. Subsequently, marginalized inner-city neighbourhoods are less served by the education market in the most dynamic US urban education areas, including Detroit; Washington, DC; and New Orleans. Gulosino and Lubienski (2011) further critically assess whether the competitive marketplace produces greater incentives for charter schools to improve options, especially for students in economically and racially segregated public schools. They examine the potential of competition in producing equitable educational opportunities for disadvantaged students in Detroit, one of the most racially segregated metropolitan areas in the US. What they conclude is  41 that charter schools, especially profit-oriented schools, avoid areas with more disadvantaged students in order to enhance their own market position. Further, Lacireno-Paquet, Holyoke, Moser, and Henig?s (2002) study in Washington, DC, corroborates the finding that profit-oriented charter schools tend to be found in more affluent areas and avoid students with greater needs. As such, the new education structure of the market appears to be ever more closely associated with uneven urban processes. How these changes affect young people?s spatialized meaning-making of school choice has been investigated in some small-scale qualitative studies. Particularly, in the UK, Reay and Lucey (2003) note how the education market accelerates the historically differentiated values of local areas. Those who live in wealthy neighbourhoods experience profits of localization, that is, their neighbourhoods and schools are seen as good and desirable compared to other local areas (Reay & Lucey, 2003). In contrast, those living in marginalized neighbourhoods feel demonized, as their neighbourhood schools and neighbourhoods become devalued (Reay & Lucey, 2003). Further, these studies reveal that working-class children experience a feeling of being ?chained to a place? (to use Bourdieu?s expression) because they have little access to schools that are good but are also far away from their homes and neighbourhoods (Reay & Lucey, 2003). Also, Heath?s (2009) UK study takes up an interesting intersection of space, student experience, and the education market. Her study reveals that students? experiences, both positive and negative?and the impact of those experiences on students? identities?are tied to the ways in which the education market is configured in particular locales. As such, in the regions where schools are stratified and parents are actively involved in choice, students placed in their preferred schools have positive experiences of choice, while those who fail to be placed have negative experiences of choice. Taken together, this body of research leads to the conclusion that the marketization of  42 education interacts closely with the spatial dynamics of urban (re)development, demographic changes in particular regions and cities, and concurrent marginalization. Increasing racial and ethnic separation  The spatial dynamics of education are associated with the racially segregating processes and consequences of school choice. For instance, Lopez, Wells, and Holmes? (2002) US study and Gulson?s (2011) study poignantly note how ?safe? images of charter schools have racial undertones (e.g., associating violent youth gangs with youths from particular racial and ethnic minority groups). They argue that good public schools (including charter schools) tend to create not only culturally but also racially exclusive communities. Indeed, across Canada, Australia, the UK, the US, and Sweden, there is growing evidence of racialized parental school choice in socially and ethnically mixed inner cities (Butler, 2003; Gulson, 2011; Levine-Rasky, 2008; Lucey & Reay, 2002; Wells, 2009). Both overt and covert forms of school choice seem to be more frequently used by white middle-class parents who tend to work the education system in order to create social and educational advantages for their children (Ball, 2003; Bifulco, Ladd, & Ross, 2009; Crozier et al., 2008; Garcia, 2008; Johnson & Shapiro, 2003; Lopez et al., 2002; Reay et al., 2008). Especially in the UK and Canada, researchers have suggested that white middle-class parents avoid schools with a high number of immigrant minority students, as they perceive them as ?bad? or even as ?foreigners?? schools (Gewirtz et al., 1995; Levine-Rasky, 2008; Lucey & Reay, 2002). Even when parents choose racially mixed comprehensive schools, studies such as that of Reay et al. (2008) show that this choice tends to serve the interests of white middle-class families who wish to consume and capitalize on multiculturalism.  43 Nonetheless, these white middle-class patterns need to be considered in light of the previous discussion on the irreducibility of the middle classes into a single category.  In contrast, Byrne and De Tona?s (2012) study of migrant families? school choice in Greater Manchester, UK, shows that migrant families tend to choose ethnically diverse schools. They suggest migrant families? choices reflect a complex set of considerations, which include avoiding overt racism while trying to ensure their children?s success by enrolling them in good schools (Byrne & De Tona, 2012). They argue that migrant families? school choices are reflective of both a classed desire and a racialized process. This study echoes recent studies from Sweden. Bunar and Kallstenius? ethnography reveals deep social and racial divisions existing in the operation of school choice (Bunar, 2010a). The study points to the fact that ?choice students? who travel to a popular public school, located in a socially dominant neighbourhood, do not mix well with ?neighbourhood students.? Further, Bunar (2010b) argues that students of immigrant and working-class backgrounds stay in their tarnished local public schools, in disadvantaged ?multicultural? neighbourhoods, in order to avoid racism. Local ethnic communities and a feeling of belonging play a more important role in racial and ethnic minority students? choice of schools (Bunar, 2010b). Bunar (2010b) emphasizes the importance of social networks, cultural recognition, and multicultural ties in school choice more than the exchange values of educational commodities, social background, or transportation costs. Subsequently, Swedish schools, in the wake of neoliberal educational reforms through deregulation, privatization, and decentralization, appear to be increasingly racially and ethnically polarized as the number of ethnic immigrant students rises. Meanwhile, the effects of this shift on academic achievements and school operation costs are reported to be marginal (Lindbom, 2010; Bunar, 2010).  44  In the US, the number of studies that present statistical evidence of racialized school choice patterns has been growing steadily (Bulkley & Fisler, 2003; Cobb & Glass, 1999; Lopez et al., 2002; Sohoni & Saporito, 2009). For example, Sohoni and Saporito?s (2009) study undertaken in the 22 largest school districts across the United States reveals that choosing a school other than one?s assigned neighbourhood public school increases racial segregation, largely due to white flight, a phenomenon of white families leaving increasingly ?diverse? (i.e., attended by social and ethnic minorities) urban neighbourhood schools. Renzulli and Evans? (2005) study further shows that white parents who choose charter schools often live in districts that have few schools serving white enclaves. Together, these studies suggest that charter schools produce greater racial isolation rather than promoting racial inclusion and diversity in districts with multiple racial groups.   Related research in the Canadian context is the work of Levine-Rasky (2008), Davies and Aurini (2011; 2008), and Yoon and Gulson (2010), all of which found that middle-class families tend to use school choice as a way to secure their children?s success. In particular, Davies and Aurini (2011; 2008) suggest that middle-class parents are increasingly managing their children?s lives by treating them as projects-in-the-making. Levine-Rasky (2008) further notes the reconstitutive interplay between being middle class and being white as a way of advancing social advantage through school choice practice. She finds that white Canadian middle-class parents often perceive the rise of immigrant populations in their schools and neighbourhoods as threats to their stability and the achievement status of the families in their neighbourhoods. Their strategies?disrupted by dilemma and ambivalence in some cases?include the construction of a fundamental difference between their children and immigrant children. Echoing an earlier Canadian study conducted by Dehli (1996b), Levine-Rasky?s (2008)  45 study reveals how white privilege embodied in the occupation of a middle-class position is expressed and secured through ?choice? in the face of broader social changes and changes at neighbourhood schools. Further echoing the above studies, Yoon and Gulson?s (2010) study in Vancouver noted racial segregation in public school choice by investigating the connection between political power, national languages, and social exclusion in the education market. While some alternative public and private schools have been established to meet the needs of racial and ethnic minorities in Canada (Dei, 1995), to date, little empirical research has been conducted to assess the social and academic outcomes of such choice schools for minority populations. A recent study by Gulson and Webb (2012) notes that not all alternative programs are equally welcomed in the public system of choice and that alternative schools that cater to racial and ethnic minority groups are resisted by the wider public because they are perceived to pose ?a threat to national identity? (p. 705). The existing research thus illuminates the fact that educational stakeholders ought to address the broader power inequalities of race and class in the temporal moment in order to understand the dynamics of school choice and its complex consequences on social and racial relations. Impasses of social segregation and choice  In short, the processes of reproducing social inequality in the educational realm are complex and often covert (and culturally regulated). As such, how people understand the changing educational structure matters greatly to the construction of their own classed, gendered, and racialized selfhood (Byrne & De Tona, 2012; Dillabough, 2004). The major contribution of these structurally based analyses to date is their pointed critique of the broader social inequalities that underpin the current practice of school choice. In particular, they point to white middle-class  46 parents? practice of ?partial inclusion? of others in the current public education system (Reay et al., 2007, p. 1054). Worth noting is the need for studies focusing on the growing structural injustices that underpin class and ethnic inequalities, as well as white middle-class insecurity (Reay et al., 2007).  Most quantitative studies to date have supported the view (which has largely been assessed qualitatively) that school choice is mainly taken up by those who have social advantages and privilege, thus increasing social inequality. Echols, McPherson, and Willms? (1990) study in Scotland; Lauder et al.?s (1999) analysis in New Zealand; Butler et al.?s (2007) study in East London; Alegre and Benito?s (2012) study in Spain; and Wells? (2009) recent review of US studies show that socially privileged classes benefit more from school choice options. In particular, Butler et al.?s (2007) recent study shows that the best-performing schools attract pupils from a wide range of areas and from more affluent neighbourhoods, supporting the argument that school choice patterns are largely initiated by advantaged middle-class families. Parents with university educations and professional occupations are more likely to choose a school outside their neighbourhood?at times by deploying extreme measures, such as lying about the family?s address, to secure their children?s attendance at good schools (Butler et al., 2007; Echols et al., 1990; Lauder et al., 1999; Levin & Belfield, 2003). Also, in the US, extensive literature reviews by both Levin and Belfield (2003) and Wells (2009) corroborate the claim that choosing schools increases inequality, except when low-income families receive targeted assistance from educational vouchers, while segregation has educational implications in terms of the distribution of resources as well as in expectations and opportunities.  Nonetheless, not all studies support the reproductive function of school choice. Challenging the above ?consensus? are Taylor (2002) and Gorard and Fitz (2006), who conclude  47 from their nationwide data from England and Wales that socio-economic segregation has decreased as a result of school choice. Taylor (2002) writes, ?The differences between the aggregated social status of school intakes were actually less than it would have been if pupils were allocated to their nearest school? (p. 250). Lindbom?s (2010) study in Sweden also suggests that school choice has reduced socio-economic segregation, which has otherwise increased since the 1990s as a result of residential segregation (p. 625). The effects of the education market on social inequality, segregation, polarization, and school differentiation remain debatable at the national level. Nonetheless, contrasting findings suggest that social and educational reproduction occurs in various localities, as evident in the many studies evaluated in this literature review. Indeed, Taylor?s (2002) study also shows that while social mixing occurs in the education marketplace, especially among those in the middle class, the outlying best and worst schools? student intake continues to be highly polarized. Thus, the extent to which school choice is linked to social inequality necessitates further qualitative examinations, since measurements of the segregation index can be somewhat reductive.  Between-school analyses, for instance, may provide little insight into within-school social segregation. This is problematic given that an increasing number of choice programs (including academic streaming and tracking) occur within individual schools. Further exploration is needed as to whether students from different class and racial backgrounds mix while attending the same school. If so, to what extent, and how, is their socialization negotiated by their different class and racial positions? How do their experiences of school choice influence their social and racial imaginations?  One critical lesson to be taken from the ongoing controversy surrounding the school choice market?s effects on social inequality, segregation, and polarization is that while we need  48 to study the macro patterns of class and school choice, we also need to pay attention to particular local and school contexts and associated effects on young people before making generalized conclusions about the market effects across a nation-state or, comparatively, across nations. Arguably, then, we need both quantitative and qualitative studies in order to understand the structural and cultural effects of school choice. For future studies, I believe that the social, racial, and gendered contexts in which small-scale qualitative studies are conducted can provide invaluable insight into the complex macro-social processes that continuously produce high levels of social and ethnic segregation, which have problematic consequences for both equality and equity in education.  2.1.2 School choice and post-structural theories of power and subjectivity16  Post-structural notions of power, especially with an emphasis on the role of discourse in the effects and operation of novel forms of power, have had a significant impact on school choice research and scholarship. From this vantage point, critical policy scholars have gone beyond the notion of policy as text and have moved towards understanding policy as discourse (see Ball, 1994). In other words, post-structural school choice scholars have highlighted the neoliberal power of the state, as evident in the interface between market discourses, technologies of power, and educational subjects. In the following section, I discuss studies that illuminate the                                                  16 The term ?subjectivity? has been used to denote the power of discourse in constituting the individual as the subject.  However, gender and youth studies scholars, including Dillabough and Kennelly (2010) and McLeod and Yates (2006), as well as post-structural spatial theorists (Gulson, 2011; Gulson & Symes, 2007), have used the same concept to theorize about the powerful effects of ?multiple historical and contemporary factors, including social, schooling, and psychodynamic relations? (McLeod & Yates, 2006, p. 38) on the formation of identity.   49 new discursive effects of education marketization on educational actors? subject formation. In doing so, I contrast a post-structural analysis of policy as discourse with a structural analysis of policy as text in order to showcase analytical distinctions and associated theoretical traditions. Despite the intricate connections between these two types of analysis, my discussion?s purpose is to identify the distinctive nature of some of this research and the diverse directions it has taken (Ball, 1994; Gillborn & Youdell, 2009).  Drawing on Ball?s (1994) analytical division of policy analysis as text and discourse, I first discuss neoliberal market policy as text. Secondly, I review a body of post-structural school choice literature that theorizes policy as discourse; that is, I explore the ways that market discourses and associated practices impinge on subjectivity: how the self is formed through the circulation of discourses as well as the normalization of judgment in educational and social processes (Foucault, 1995/1975). I examine, as Rose and Miller (1992, 2008) have noted, the ways in which market discourses, as utilized in state reforms of education, shape ?the beliefs and conduct of others in desired direction by acting upon their will? and further impressing upon their choice (p. 175). My review further highlights the emerging post-structural analytic on school choice scholarship, especially in relation to race and space. Policy as text: critical policy analysis of market rhetoric and ideology   The theoretical foundation underpinning the textual analysis of policy is that actors constitute and contest the views and intentions as expressed in policy texts (Ball, 1994). The critical emphasis lies on policy as text, adopted by particular actors who wish to reify certain visions of the social and educational world. By identifying the main author(s) and political parties involved in the creation of a market policy text, and the reasons it was created, this body  50 of critical scholarship emphasizes the social and political agency and the ideological intentionality and interests behind education marketization reform. Critical educational scholars sharing this perspective use empirical studies to interrogate pro-market arguments, offering a reflexive critique of the market ideology of rational choice makers (Ball, 1993, 2003; Bowe et al., 1994; Gewirtz et al., 1995; Lauder et al., 1999; Reay, 1996). They have contested the flawed assumptions of market theory, such as rationality, parents as consumers, and education as a commodity. For instance, Ball (1993, 1994) and Apple (2004) critique the flawed arguments made for markets and against public monopolies, which have been made by various free-market thinkers including public policy scholars such as Chubb and Moe (1990) in the US and economists Fredric Hayek and Milton Friedman.17 Ball (1993, 1994) notes how a market approach ignores unequal social, economic, and educational realities. Apple (2004) identifies market-based educational reforms as a new political initiative intended by right-wing politicians to advance their agendas and power. After reviewing the initial developments and consequences of devolution and choice in post-industrial societies, Whitty et al. (1998) similarly suggest that education market rhetoric is introduced to persuade the public that the education system would work better as a market rather than as a social welfare framework. They show how such persuasive arguments are evident in new managerial handbooks that redefine                                                  17 Friedman?s (1982) and Chubb and Moe?s (1990) work has significantly influenced the establishment of a system of educational choice in the frame of a market model in the US. While their construction of choice does not exhaust the myriad of choice reforms, the basic elements of the system they have laid out make up the core elements of many contemporary school choice reforms.  One major common thread amongst these thinkers, although Friedman emphasizes the demand side of market reforms while Chubb and Moe emphasize the supply side, is that school choice would work as the most efficient organizational means to raise educational and school quality for all (Friedman, 1982; Chubb & Moe, 1990; Raham, 1998).  51 leadership, teacher professionalism, and school effectiveness using the language of managerialism and business (Codd, 1994; Robertson, 1996; Whitty et al., 1998). As such, these policy scholars have critiqued market rhetoric and ideology for their roles in making erroneous assumptions about human behaviours and the market system (Apple, 2001, 2004; Ball, 1993, 1994; Gaskell, 1995; Marginson, 1997; Whitty et al., 1998). Policy as discourse: neoliberal subjectivity and techniques of the self  In contrast to the above theoretical view of policy as text, a considerable number of school choice scholars draw on a post-structural view of policy as discourse. From this theoretical vantage point, they theorize policy as a discourse that exerts the power to regulate those embedded in the existing matrix of choice policy by constructing certain rationalities and possibilities for thought, action, and choice (Ball, 1994; Shore & Wright, 1997). In other words, prevailing discourses conveyed in policies shape norms of conduct and thus have powerful effects on subject formation (Shore & Wright, 1997). According to this view, identity is discursively constituted by prevailing discourses that are reproduced over and over again (Gillborn & Youdell, 2009; Gulson, 2011, p. 180).  Articulating what policy as discourse achieves in relation to a student?s formation, some post-structural views theorize individuals as taking up social positions that are constructed for them within policies rather than as actors and agents who are ?free? to exercise their agency (Ball, 1994; McLeod & Yates, 2006). This post-structural analysis is clearly the result of the proliferation of policy studies using Foucaultian theoretical insights, which emphasize the powerful impact of discourses and the associated governing technologies of marketization on individual subjectivity. Michel Foucault?s (1980, 1984, 2000) theories of power and discourse  52 have greatly influenced the critique of structuralist, totalizing examinations of educational institutions and market processes. In particular, Foucaultian governmentality scholars, such as Nikolas Rose (1996) and Barry, Osborne, and Rose (1996), have helped create powerful critiques of the concept of neoliberal governance, including the marketization of education. They argue that neoliberal governmentality?that is, the rationality of neoliberal government in achieving its social, economic, and political objectives?operates through the construction of free, active, and enterprising individuals who govern themselves and take responsibility for their successes and failures in a market society, while the responsibility of the state dwindles (Shore & Wright, 1997). This new wave of post-structural thinking about social and individual life in neoliberal societies has had a significant influence on the analysis of marketization in education.  Michael Peters? (2005) work is particularly significant in elucidating the rise of ?prudentialism? in education and its production of the subject position of neoliberal individuals. Peters (2005) explains that the neoliberal market system shapes individuals as actuaries who manage and calculate risks, and in doing so they become entrepreneurial selves in a market-based society and in education. He argues that the language of choice effectively disguises the subjectification of the individual through the discourse of rational choice. Such language also constructs individuals, especially parents and learners, as responsible citizens.  These theoretical arguments have also been examined empirically across the Atlantic. Maguire (2004), for instance, critically analyzes the modern teacher, who is a successful performer if he or she is flexible, ambitious, and competitive in conformity with the policy lexicon of Britain?s New Labour government. Ball (2004) elucidates how the market culture of competition leads to constant evaluation of teachers based on narrow discursive standards. New market standards are shown to construct a particular kind of teacher who shows that he or she is  53 adept in the economy of education by increasing his or her value-added, measurable productivity (Ball, 2004). Similarly, in the US, Webb (2006) argues that teachers? agency is seriously circumscribed by new accountability measures of performance and by peer and administrative surveillance mechanisms. The way teachers understand themselves and how they shape their own conduct is increasingly steered by neoliberal market discourses that define a good school and good teachers. These studies together suggest that the power of market discourses operates in the circulation of performance outcomes reports and league tables. The circulation of these statistics regulates the identities and actions of good teachers.  Furthermore, post-structural analysis has informed how new market discourses and practices make learners knowable while shaping them into particular subject positions. Particularly notable studies in the UK were conducted by Gillborn and Youdell (2000) and Youdell (2004), who unravel how the discourses of education market reforms impact learners? subjectivities of schooling and inclusion. They suggest that a new technique of education rationing creates discursive positions that learners can take up. For instance, they note that under the intense competition of the education market, schools tend to create a practice termed ?educational triage,? which classifies learners as ?safe,? ?under-achievers,? and ?without hope? and positions them in particular educational standings in relation to each other (Gillborn & Youdell, 2000, p. 134). Reay and Lucey?s (2000, 2002, 2003) work also demonstrates the constitutive role of choice and marketization discourses in the formation of student identity. In analyzing the discourse of excellence, Reay and Lucey (2002) argue that the production of discourse in the market context has a stronger tendency to create the opposite discourse, one that has detrimental effects on young people and their learner identities. These opposing discourses are often generated in relation to the official discourses of choice and the ideal. As such, as  54 Lindblad and Popkewitz (2004) argue, market discourses (including statistical reports and league tables) not only reconfigure the entire educational community but also have the effect of ordering ?the moral conduct of the child? (Lindblad & Popkewitz, 2004, p. xxviii).  Similarly, the impact of neoliberal discursive practices on creating new subject positions has also been studied in the North American context. For instance, Stack (2006) and Vinson and Ross (2003) argue that individual learners (as well as their families and the entire population) are called upon to become prudent and responsible choosers and students largely because of the discourses circulating in the media about both international and provincial testing outcomes. Also, a recent American study by Demerath and Lynch (2008) indicates that suburban middle-class youths are equipping themselves to be competitive and self-reliant entrepreneurs in a fast-paced capitalist society. The numerical distribution and categorical classification of school outcomes shapes the identities of educational communities (Foucault, 1995/1977; Graham & Neu, 2004). Policy as discourse is therefore seen as a form of regulation that creates the human conduct of good decision-making and shapes notions of the ideal individual whom the school ultimately needs to produce in order to match external forms of regulation, such as education audit culture (e.g., school rankings, league tables). Under the performative economy of education and culture, the relationships between learners and between learners and teachers become increasingly fabricated (Webb, 2006). Emerging post-structural approaches to race and space  A post-structural emphasis on the role and power of discourse in producing, for example, the regulated student and/or teacher has also offered some powerful insights into the ways in which race and space are implicated in the dynamics of education market research (Gulson,  55 2011; Youdell, 2004). One compelling insight is that in the processes and practices of school choice, particular racial meanings of schools and areas of the city play a critical role in shaping school choice practice. Drawing from the post-structural notion that race is not biologically or culturally fixed, racial subjectivity is theorized as being situated in particular local contexts and mediated through prevailing discourses of race (Gillborn & Youdell, 2009; Gulson, 2011). These prevailing discourses of race, it is argued, play a part in shaping school choice dynamics.  A recent study that uses such an approach is Gulson?s (2011) examination of the relationship between race and school choice policy in three major urban centres in England, Australia, and Canada. This tri-national study is particularly insightful in illuminating the discursive effects of race in the contemporary moment in specific educational policies and cities. An important insight is that a dominant (i.e., white middle-class) imaginary of contemporary schooling, the city, and the nation plays a critical role in parental school and residential choice (Gulson, 2011; Hage, 2000; Yoon & Gulson, 2010). For instance, Gulson (2011) notes that to survive and to be successful within the new neoliberal workings of inner-school schooling, existing inner-city student populations (especially Aboriginal and immigrant students) are encouraged to aspire to become academically entrepreneurial or they will be considered ?hopeless cases? (Gillborn & Youdell, 2000, p. 134; Gulson, 2011). As such, a post-structural approach to school choice, race, and space does not necessarily negate the major conclusions of structural explanations of school choice policy and its outcomes. Rather, post-structural analysis illuminates how school choice processes and concurrent inequalities are discursively created, enabled, and maintained.    56 2.2 A social phenomenological approach that embraces the imaginary  Missing from studies of young people in current school choice literature is an examination of the ways in which youth make meaning out of choice practices, especially how young people imagine and understand their city and school choice, particularly against the dominant landscape of neoliberalism. In this section, I seek to put forward a different consideration of the relationship between theory and young people?s understandings of city and school choice policy.  2.2.1 School choice as imaginative practices  Through an interpretive phenomenological approach that does not reject the previous perspectives but in part builds on and embraces some of their key concepts, I explore how young people interpret and imagine school choice policy and educational change. I examine young people?s different, situated, and negotiated imaginaries of school choice as it operates in the city. What are the configurations and representations that young people imagine and carry with them as they navigate the city, and how do their imaginations enter into the practice of choice in their respective social and racial positions and neighbourhoods? It is my contention that a focus on three concepts?the imaginary, the imagination, and imaginary capital?may provide a generative space from which to explore how young people respond to educational and social change in their daily lives and how their everyday actions, feelings, experiences, and practices are linked to policy (as ideology and public discourse). Such conceptual ideas may also be helpful in assessing how meanings generated in particular locales mediate young people?s understanding of the changing worlds that present different possibilities, opportunities, risks, and horizons of constraint and uncertainty in an unequal society (Appadurai, 1996; Ritivoi, 2006;  57 Taylor, 2004). In the following section, I focus on the two key concepts of the imagination and the imaginary in further detail and briefly discuss the new notion of ?imaginary capital,? which I elaborate on more extensively in Chapter 8. Imagination as situated negotiation with the world  My conception of imagination draws heavily upon the work of critical social and feminist scholarship. By thinking through an interdisciplinary lens, I want to suggest that the idea of the imagination is complex, rather than simply ?a weakened sensorial impression,? a copy of something, someone, or someplace that is absent (Ricoeur, 1978, p. 149; Ricoeur, 1991). First, drawing upon Paul Ricoeur?s (1978) theory of imagination and the social imaginary,18 I consider the idea of one?s imagination as being both a part of an active subject within a constrained space and recognizing its embedded nature in an already existing field of collective memory. Within this space, the experience of narrating life can be seen as an active and interpretive engagement with the world that is relational, contested, and projective. In this sense, my conception of imagination does not follow the prevalent Humean definition of imagination as the practice of simply toying with, or entertaining, images. In using the term ?imagination,? I refer to mental, corporal, and affective processes and to further social and cultural processes of attributing to one?s meaning making the ?qualities, structures, localizations, situations, attitudes, or feelings? that are part of the wider social imaginary (Ricoeur, 1978, p. 150). Here, imagination is a socially and culturally understood way of ?reading the reality in a new way? (Ricoeur, 1978, p. 157). Imagination thus contributes to ?the projection of new possibilities of redescribing the                                                  18 The social imaginary can be theorized as collective narratives consisting of ?stories we tell ourselves? as well as values, norms, and ideologies that inform our political conscious (Kearney, 2004; Ricoeur, 2008; Ritivoi, 2006).  58 world? (Ricoeur, 1978, p. 154). Building upon this Ricoeurian philosophy of imagination, particularly in relation to the notion of the social imaginary (see Kearney, 2004; Ricoeur, 2008), that is, ?the interplay of ideals, images, ideologies and utopias informing our political conscious? (p. 75), as further discussed in the rest of this chapter, I extend my conception of imagination to include more socio-political concerns that address both young people?s material and discursive worlds as well as their subjective interpretation of these worlds.  This link between the social imaginary and imagination highlights the function of imagination in creating a vision that can shape groups and communities. In particular, I emphasize Ricoeur?s view of imagination in the context of social life ?as a conscious act that promotes integration in, as well as transformation of, a community??yet also as a way by which the collective values and assumptions, that is, the dominant meaning systems of the imaginary, can be challenged (Ricoeur, 2008; Ritivoi, 2006, p. 56). As a critical feminist education scholar, Bonny Norton (2001) observes that the ability to see new social possibilities for young people, especially young (language) learners, involves imagining new or different communities that can be compared to existing communities. In other words, imagination is foundational to the formation and reformation of a community (Ritivoi, 2006). What is evident in this conception of imagination is an exercise of social and political (re)alignment between the values of particular individuals and social groups (Norton, 2001). Anderson?s (1991) notion of imagined communities is one important illustration of this practice of imagination at work at the national level.19 These previous ideas of imagination in our social and political thinking indicate that the practice of imagination is neither strictly private nor individualistic. Instead, the concept of                                                  19 Shircliffe, Dorn, and Cobb-Roberts (2006) have noted the function of schools in group and community building in the history of US education, which I further discuss in the context chapter.  59 imagination renders us as political and social actors and subjects who play a part in revising and reshaping social relations (that is, how we position people socially) that transcend specific times and spaces (Norton, 2001; Ritivoi, 2006).  Form here, I further emphasize the social and political conception of the imagination as situated by drawing upon the feminist standpoint theorists Stroetzler and Yuval-Davis (2002), particularly their idea of situated imagination (Stoetzler & Yuval-Davis, 2002). Stroetzler and Yuval-Davis suggest that the function of the imagination is to involve corporal and affective processes incorporating the experience of the body, as the ?experience of other bodies together with our own is the basis of imagination? (Spinoza, 1999, p.14, cited in Stoetzler & Yuval-Davis, 2002, p. 323). As such, I do not think of imagination as a transcendental, philosophical, and mental activity. Instead, I think of imagination as ?shaped and conditioned (although not determined) by social positioning? (Stoetzler & Yuval-Davis, 2002, p. 315). Imagination is built on situated meaning-making and lived experiences rather than being simply reflective of sensual data or empty discourses (Ricoeur, 1978; Stoetzler & Yuval-Davis, 2002). Bodily experiences and social location in particular matter to the way people imagine new possibilities and anticipate change (Stoetzler & Yuval-Davis, 2002). Bodily experiences are key to understanding (re)alignment and/or resistance to imagined communities or the wider social imaginary (Stoetzler & Yuval-Davis, 2002). The imaginary  My conception of the imaginary draws primarily from the political and critical social theories of Ricoeur (2008), Rizvi and Lingard (2010), and Taylor (2004). I consider the imaginary as being constituted by dialogical processes between practices and ideas and between  60 dispositions, imagination, and ideologies. In contrast to the aforementioned concept of imagination, then, the concept of the imaginary emphasizes the importance of ideology, utopia, and hegemony, and subsequently the power and influence of political ideas on individual practices, conduct, and imaginary practices (Kearney, 2004; Ricoeur, 2008; Ritivoi, 2006; Rizvi & Lingard, 2010).  The social imaginary can be theorized as collective narratives consisting of ?stories we tell ourselves? as well as values, norms, and ideologies that inform our political conscious, as briefly noted earlier (Kearney, 2004; Ricoeur, 2008; Ritivoi, 2006; Rizvi & Lingard, 2010). The imaginary thus defines a particular era as well as the dominant values and practices of living in that era (Ritivoi, 2006). This theorization is strongly noted in Taylor?s theory of the social imaginary as ?the ways in which people imagine their social existence, how they fit together with others, how things go on between them and their fellows, the expectations that are normally met, and the deeper normative notions and images that underlie these expectations? (Taylor, 2004, p. 106).  From this perspective, policy, as the embodiment of a particular imaginary, is pertinent to this study. Policy (re)constitutes the norms and practices that are aligned with the interests of policy makers. The ideas and policies studied, expounded on, and proposed by a small number of experts and powerful groups do become part of everyday life, shaping not only our streets and schools but also our conduct (Foucault, 1984; Shore & Wright, 1997; Taylor, 2004). While the dominant imaginary is ?in a constant state of flux? and is highly contested among policymakers, it nonetheless guides and steers ?the common understandings that make everyday practices possible, giving them sense and legitimacy? (Rizvi & Lingard, 2010, p. 34). In other words, one important function of the imaginary is to reorder society through a new governance model,  61 which creates a society with ?coherence? and a sense of identity (Rizvi & Lingard, 2010; Shore & Wright, 1997).  As Rizvi and Lingard (2010) further point out, the concept of the imaginary is similar to Bourdieu?s concept of habitus. They thus theorize the imaginary as being part of forming the habitus (i.e., disposition) that guides individual conduct and choices. The imaginary shapes individuals? internalized senses of possibility in both local and transnational social spaces. The imaginary offers ?options for organizing their conduct? and social relations (Rizvi & Lingard, 2010, p. 34). As such, through the lens of the imaginary, young people imagine who can be part of a changing world and how they can be part of that change.  In addition to the concept of the social imaginary, I draw upon concepts such as the urban imaginary (Dillabough & Kennelly, 2010; Soja, 1996) and the national imaginary (Anderson, 1991; Hage, 2000) in order to think spatially about how school choice is constructed within a particular local and national context. These spatialized perspectives further enrich my discussion on understanding the relationship between school choice and young people in the local context of increasing diasporas. I describe and discuss these concepts in the subsequent data chapters. Dialogical relationships between the imaginary and imagination  Briefly then, the imaginary of school choice policy is an important factor that I take into consideration when theorizing young people?s understandings and affective responses to school choice as situated negotiations. In this way, I explore imagination as ?the product of the dialogical process? between individuals and the collective (Stoetzler & Yuval-Davis, 2002, p. 316). Theorizing the dialogical relationship between imagination and the imaginary involves understanding the ?negotiation between sites of agency (individuals) and globally defined fields  62 of possibility? (Appadurai, 1996, p. 31). In theorizing the imaginary and the practice of imagination, not everyone imagines the world in the same way. Individual positions in particular social spaces, (i.e., fields) matter to those individuals? negotiations, meaning-makings, and interpretations of school choice.  From this vantage point, then, I propose that both the imaginary and the imagination are fundamental to ?why, whether and what we are ready to experience, perceive and know? and thus choose in our social and educational worlds (Stoetzler & Yuval-Davis, 2002, p. 325). Those two concepts are then critical to understanding ?the way people experience the process of ? making their way into a new [world],? especially in the new global era (Baas, 2010, p. 6).  Indeed, this conceptual approach has been taken up in a growing number of studies of international post-secondary education and youth experiences, such as those of Baas (2010) and Rizvi (2005). Their studies show that the imagination, in addition to the imaginary, motivates and develops young people?s desires to construct, change, transform, learn, and move transnationally. Appadurai (1996), too, stresses the importance of the imagination as ?a staging ground for action, and not only for escape? in the rapidly globalizing world (p. 7). This combined way of thinking about the imagination and the imaginary will thus be pertinent to an understanding of mobility and choice in the local context of Vancouver and to what role young people?s imaginary worlds play in shaping their futures against changing social worlds in the era of advanced neoliberal globalization (Gulson & Pedroni, 2011; Lauder et al., 2006; Rizvi & Lingard, 2010).  In exploring the relationship between choice and young people?s imagined worlds in this thesis, I therefore theorize that the actions of young people are akin to situated negotiation, thus making their school choices akin to imaginative practices between neoliberal ideology and new  63 possibilities. By a situated negotiation, I mean the way by which individuals negotiate ?between the contradictions of experiences and perceptions as well as between what ?is? and what ?ought to be?? (Stoetzler & Yuval-Davis, 2002, p. 327). Unevenly lived conditions and individuals? biographical histories therefore matter significantly to the process of negotiated imaginations. In the negotiated process of imagination, the power to imagine and transform is inextricably tied to social positions and personal histories, while ?the faculty of the imagination constructs as well as transforms, challenges and supersedes both existing knowledge and social reality? (Stoetzler & Yuval-Davis, 2002, p. 315).  I theorize that there is some power to the idea that people imagine representations in the world in a hierarchical web of power relationships, as articulated by Pierre Bourdieu. Bourdieu conceptualizes human relationships as a field in which the hierarchical web of human relations is built upon, and reproduced by, the attainment of the particular capitals at stake. The gap ?between what ?is? and what ?ought to be?? varies depending on where one is socially positioned in relation to others in Bourdieu?s field (Stoetzler & Yuval-Davis, 2002, p. 317). As such, the envisioning of ?what ought to be? can differ widely depending on social position. I suggest that one?s social position strongly influences (although does not determine) the degree to which one?s imagination becomes aligned with the dominant social imaginary. This theory thus assumes that social and corporal processes are fundamental to any form of imagining. Any theorization of the imagination would thus be incomplete without further taking the notion of the imaginary into consideration, as the imaginary is central to the formation of a particular field. I discuss these points further in the following data chapters and conclusion chapter.  In closing, I have so far argued that studying policy through the dual lens of the imaginary and the imagination facilitates a focus on the embodiment of policy, visceral micro- 64 level and local experiences, activities, practices, and institutions in our daily lives, a focus that cannot be reduced to discourses and/or texts. In the following chapters, I show how this analytical approach can help enhance our understanding of how the education market becomes the site of classification struggles over notions of elite identity and of how these struggles are negotiated. I also use the lens of the imaginary and the imagination to explore the historical changes and reimagining of schools as communities in the present and history of Vancouver, British Columbia, and Canada in Chapter 3. Subsequently, in Chapter 8, I propose a new conception of imaginary capital as an integrative theory to conceptualize the dialectical relationship between imagination and the imaginary in young people?s lives.   65 Chapter  3:  Schools as imagined communities in the local history20  The concept of the local public school bringing together all the children in a community was becoming a thing of the past in British Columbia. (Barman, 1991b, p. 336)   We often envision schools as communities. Some of us picture a little red schoolhouse where all the children in the neighbourhood came to learn and play together. Others have memories of a school down the road they could not attend because they were shipped off to other neighbourhoods far away. And, finally, there are those who remember a school that denied them access and made no other educational provisions. This last type of memory makes imagining schools as communities problematic. At first glance we would like to see a school as a place where children, teachers, and parents gather with a shared sense of purpose. The image of everyone working together has been an ideal. (Shircliffe et al., 2006, p. 1)    Building on Shircliffe et al.?s (2006) critical notion of schools as imagined communities, in this chapter I discuss how schools in the history of British Columbia (BC) and Vancouver have been imagined as communities by demarcating the ?insiders? from the ?outsiders? based on geographical boundaries, race, class, and religion. Schools as imagined communities are not monolithic. Rather, boundaries and memberships constantly shift in relation to internal divisions                                                  20 I would like to thank Dr. Dillabough for permitting me to draw substantially on the research I contributed to her project on the history of choice and urban changes.   66 and external pressures (Shircliffe et al., 2006). Schools as communities ?can push out as well as pull in people, divide as well as unite? (Shircliffe et al., 2006, p. 2). In this chapter, I explore such dialectical forces of inclusion and exclusion in the changing yet historically enduring politics, discourses, and practices of school choice and in the recent implementation of school choice policy in the historical and contemporary context of both British Columbia and Vancouver and in the two schools where my study took place. My focus here is on how schools have been imagined as communities, key institutions for maintaining implicitly and explicitly social, racial, and religious membership, thus maintaining the structure of social fragmentation and hierarchy (Shircliffe et al., 2006). I first provide a historical overview of the changing imagination of schools as communities, beginning with the British colonial period of white settlement society, through to the welfare state under the principles of Keynesian economics, and then to the era of marketization under Hayekian neoliberal economics. Next, I discuss both the polarizing conditions of Vancouver as it develops into an increasingly diverse global city and the ways in which schools are imagined by a form of consumer sovereignty that tends to balkanize citizens and immigrants based on social, religious, and racial groups. Lastly, I discuss the two specific schools in my study and how they have been characterized as well as imagined in the changing local context of Vancouver.  3.1 The case of British Columbia?s education system  Choosing the right school for one?s children has always been a significant family strategy, especially for middle-class families, but it has also taken on different meanings depending on membership to particular racial and ethnic groups. This is especially true in  67 stratified and stratifying societies with colonial histories, as in BC and Vancouver. Various religious and ethnic groups have pursued their own distinctive educational institutions. School choice has always existed to some extent in order to maintain group membership and to maintain and reproduce middle-class positions (Bourdieu, 1998b). This section looks at how the vision of a single public education system for all has been attempted in the history of British Columbia.21 Different groups have tried to create different educational options that support their present and future social status and wealth. This has inadvertently generated different forms of exclusion. Especially during the recent decades of rapid privatization, the concept of local public schools for everyone within a community is rapidly, in Barman?s (1991b) words, ?becoming a thing of the past? (p. 336), or perhaps some may argue that it is a fantasy that never really existed. Nonetheless, Barman?s observation offers a key insight into the renewed and intensifying structural and symbolic struggles among different social and ethnic groups under the current restructuring of the education system.  3.1.1 Early history  The ways by which schools were characterized along class, race, and residential lines were quite pronounced in BC?s early history. Separation by group membership was normalized and enacted based on racist social and educational policies during the British colonial period during the mid-19th and early 20th century, when the education system reflected fairly rigid class structures, racial hierarchies, and religious differences (Mawani, 2009). As Barman (2003b) writes,                                                  21 In Canada, educational authority falls under the responsibility of the provincial government.  68  In the new colony as in England, education was perceived as having two prime functions: preparation to maintain existing place within the social order, and inculcation of denominational religious beliefs. Children from poor families were best prepared to accept their own inevitably inferior position by being given only rudimentary literacy training. Conversely, children in families of high status had to be extensively educated were they to take their expected positions at the forefront of their generation. (p. 14)  Similarly, racial exclusion was evident in schools. For instance, Victoria?s first ?common? school, a private venture school, saw a rise in enrolments when they agreed to exclude ?the offspring of ?colored? families? (Barman, 2003b, p. 18).22 In this context, while the Public Schools Act of 1872 successfully established a centralized, monolithic, non-sectarian23 orientation for the public education system, not all families were represented or included in the newly created province?s free common schools. While the elimination of religious observance in state schools was carried out and brought together children from different religious groups, including Anglicans, Catholics, Evangelicals, Jewish communities, and Spiritualists, not all BC families were included, nor did they all participate in public schools. Elite schools for children from politically and economically powerful families remained, and private schools continued to serve the needs and interests of British elite immigrant families and other families who wished to educate their children on the basis of their religious principles (Barman, 2003b). Also, most                                                  22 This school closed in March 1864. 23 Unlike those of other provinces, the BC education system was unique in removing specific religious doctrines from the public school system by not financially supporting denominational schools.  69 public schools did not accept Aboriginal students. Some Aboriginal children were allowed to attend public schools, but only if they were perceived as academically interested, clean, and well behaved, and if there were no objections from white settlers in the neighbourhood (Barman, 2003a). In responding to a teacher who admitted young Aboriginal youths to her school in Hope, BC, John Jessop, the first superintendent of education, wrote, ?You are doing perfectly right in admitting Indian children so long as they are not taken [by force] and conduct themselves properly?. If they are troublesome or dirty the trustees must prohibit their attendance? (quoted in Barman, 2003a, p. 44). As such, pupils were often subject to the practice of schools as racially imagined communities, where future leaders were separated from labourers (Mawani, 2009).  3.1.2 After World War II: massification and streaming  The period following World War II was also a time of transformation in BC education history. Schools were reimagined to reflect a period of economic prosperity24 and expanding equality: For example, living standards rose and more women took part in education and the economy. The government operated under the Keynesian model, focusing on generating large-scale public projects, fuelling the expansion of the provincial economy. The number of students tripled (from 137,827 to 445,228) between 1947 and 1967. The proportion of students enrolled in                                                  24 BC?s economy was booming. In the 1950s, oil, natural gas, and hydroelectricity were discovered throughout the province. Large-scale, long-term construction projects, such as the construction of pipeline and transmission systems, as well as dams for the production of hydroelectric power, increased employment. By the 1960s, economic growth resulted from the high demand for pulp, paper, lumber, and other wood products, which expanded the forestry industry sector, and the increasing demand and rising prices for copper, silver, lead and zinc, which expanded the mining industry.    70 Grade 8 who were retained in Grade 11 increased to 92% in 1969 from 25% in 1921(Mussio & Greer, 1980). During this period, the belief that secondary education should be democratically accessible and available to every child became popular (Johnson, 1964). The focus was on increasing equal access to education, and thus school districts were amalgamated and schools consolidated across BC (Barman, 1991b).  Nevertheless, during this period of economic prosperity and educational equality, BC?s education system was being increasingly differentiated into three different systems. Many Aboriginal students were educated at residential schools,25 although band-operated schools on reserves also became new options for Aboriginal children beginning in the 1970s (Barman, 2003). The private school system was strengthened, with increased government support and its own organizing association. The number of private schools in Vancouver increased. Public schools grew rapidly and became increasingly differentiated.  With the massification of secondary schooling, the secondary curriculum was streamed. As Johnson (1964) notes, a growing concern for the development of the ?superior minds to whom society must ever look for the solution of its problems? led to the development of the University Programme for academically minded and academically destined pupils (Campbell, cited in Johnson, 1964, p. 185). The General Programme for vocational education, in turn, was designed for the rest. This division was normalized by the rationale that two different subject courses were offered for ?the brighter? and ?the slower students? (Johnson, 1964, p. 185). To put this differently, these designations or classifications represented two broadly differentiated and                                                  25 At least 3,000 children died while they were attending Aboriginal residential schools; the causes of the death ranged from disease to malnutrition, accidents, and suicides {The Canadian Press, 2013`, Feb 18 #804}. Also, a few children died while fleeing from their schools (The Canadian Press, 2013, Feb 18).     71 imagined communities. This division of the secondary school system made the university program more prestigious; as a result, those from the middle classes took up university studies at a higher rate (Johnson, 1964). These programs within the public school system then reflected diverging communities of learners whose futures were differently imagined. This discourse of high and low tracked schooling continues in the normalization of mini schools today, which is further illustrated in Chapter 5.  In the private sector, the large influx of Dutch immigrants, who held firm beliefs in government-funded religious schooling, which was the norm in the Netherlands, contributed to the expansion of private schools (Barman, 1991a). Also, parents in Catholic schools in Maillardville took political action that led to a greater allocation of public resources into private schools in 1951 (Fisher & Gill, 1985). Furthermore, the Federation of Independent Schools Association (FISA) was created in 1966, representing the collective desires of the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, as well as Dutch immigrant families, to increase private education funding and establish schools in line with their beliefs and philosophies (Barman, 1991a).  In the public sector, different secondary schools in Vancouver experimented with different curricula and instructional methods (Johnson, 1964). For instance, Prince George?s Montessori program became part of the public school system, and Highglen Elementary was founded as a magnet school in 1985. Langley Fine Arts School, proactively conceived by a superintendent, opened as a school of choice in the Langley suburban district in 1986 (Gaskell, 2002). In the mid-1980s, the French Immersion program began serving about 30,000 students in 47 school districts in BC. Eight BC public schools offered Montessori programs, and 13 schools provided the International Baccalaureate program. The traditional public school movement began  72 after the Surrey school board approved the establishment of a traditional public school, Surrey Traditional School, in 1994 (Crawley, 1995). By 1997, two more traditional schools had been approved as alternative schools in the public education system (Kalaw, McLaren, & Rehnby, 1998).  In the early 1970s, according to a local educational historian, Rothstein (1999), the influx of liberal American immigrants and academics at the University of British Columbia (UBC) played an important role in the spread of American progressivism in BC, and more than 20 alternative schools were established. The emergence of these alternative schools exemplifies the creation of schools as differently imagined communities within the larger public education system. In fact, with rising levels of anxiety surrounding mass education, Rothstein?s (1999) and Johnson?s (1964) work suggests that the diversification of school types reflected the growing number of middle-class parents who wanted their children to stand out from others. As such, alternative education stressed middle-class learners? giftedness, individualism, and choice as expressions of individuality. Public schools became more attentive to the politics of middle-class parents. More diverse programs geared towards the interests of specific groups of parents became popular. Also, according to the research conducted by Kalaw, McLaren, and Rehnby (1998), alternative schools, especially traditional public schools, began to serve a social function of exclusion by creating a ?refuge from the diversity? of public schools by permitting families with similar cultural values and socio-economic backgrounds to organize a public school advancing their own private interests (p. 1?2). Additionally, the increase in academically demanding and public schools with strict disciplining procedures grew along with the increasing influx of Asian immigrants whose values emphasized academic excellence, discipline, and  73 assessment (Mitchell, 2001).26  In Chapter 7, I further discuss the influence of parental demands for alternative programs.  3.1.3 New school communities in the era of privatization, devolution, and marketization  To what extent, then, does the current trend of marketization of education in the province of BC contribute to the reimagination of schools as different communities? Building upon the work of Barman (1991), and the reimagining of the public sector through privatization and deregulation?that is, through parental choice?around the globe, which I noted in the introduction (Ball, 2003; Chan-Tibergien, 2006; Gaskell, 1995; Kuehn, 2006; Shaker, 1999), I want to suggest that schools have become more susceptible to an imagined community of particular parent groupings that have been heavily influenced by the wider advanced neoliberal policy climate.27 Since the increase in funding for private schools in BC, enrolment in the private sector28 has increased; currently, 12% of school-aged children attend private schools. The increased                                                  26 While BC?s population doubled from 1.6 million in 1961 to 3.2 million in 1991, the percentage with Asian heritage increased nine-fold from 40,000 to 371,000, making the Chinese ethnic group the third largest group in BC, behind the British and the Germans (Crawley, 1995). Between 1990 and 1996, on average, 10,267 immigrants arrived in Vancouver from Hong Kong each year (Mitchell, 2001). 27 As I have already discussed the influence of neoliberal globalization in the introduction, I will not repeat that content here.  28 In the private sector, the number of Vancouver independent schools (both primary and secondary) rose from 39 in 1991/2 to 68 in 2009/10. In 2009/10, the total number of independent school students enrolled in Vancouver (also both elementary and secondary schools) was 12,612. This represents a decline of 0.2% (112 students) from 12,724  74 funding of non-public schools in the late 1970s refueled the declining Catholic Church?s control over education, leading to a ?renaissance of Catholic education.? The enrollment numbers of students in Christian schools rose.29 The number of ethnically grouped schools (e.g., schools intended for Sikhs and Muslims) also increased (Barman, 1991a, p. 18). Schools in the private sector thus seem to be increasingly divided and imagined differently by those who occupy different class, race, and gender positions and are reflective of power relationships. Trueman?s (2009) recent study of private schools on Vancouver Island further notes that there is an increasing tendency to choose private schools for reasons of ethnic preservation as well as upward social mobility. In BC, the private school sector has been and continues to be imagined as an alternative space for families with religious, ethnic, elite, and philosophical interests, functioning as exclusive communities for middle-class families to educate their children and to pursue social and economic leadership positions (Maxwell & Maxwell, 1995). This growing fragmentation of schools into different communities is further manifested in the ways in which various policy stakeholders discuss choice in the public education system. For instance, one major debate around the 2002 School Act amendment concerned ?refocusing public education at the school level? to ?encourage local responsibility and accountability? by encouraging public schools to ?reconnect with their communities? (Clark, 2002, p. 3005). This emphasis on school communities was more than simple rhetoric, as the government created a new institutional body, School Planning Councils, in every BC school to elevate the voice of elected parents in school decision-making processes. A move towards developing programs                                                                                                                                                              in 2004/5 but is still a high number (Yan, 2010). It is especially high when compared to the overall enrolment decline of about 9% (5,418 students) in the public system from 58,967 in 2001 to 53,549 in 2012.   29 This was an increase of 154% (from 2,471 to 6,281 over the same period).  75 based on parental interests and communities become more pronounced in the current provincial educational policy imaginary.  Since per-pupil funding follows students to any school they attend, an open enrolment policy encourages the formation of new communities. Some districts use school specialization as a tool to attract students from other districts by having them become part of their imagined communities while increasing their revenues. Some schools are reimagined with special programs, especially mini schools, to attract students outside their immediate neighbourhoods. The structure of schooling is, under the rhetoric of choice, being reorganized by the interests, values, and wealth of particular communities of parents. In this process, the politics of diversity of needs are being played out in providing greater legitimacy to promoting the establishment of diverse schools (Fallon & Paquette, 2008). Subsequently, in the public system, we see increased program segmentation and social and ethnic division by group belonging and membership.  This new trend of privatization and increased school choice, reflective of international trends of marketization, deregulation, and privatization, as discussed in the introduction, is then one way to imagine the creation of schools for exclusive communities. Through a brief historical overview of the ways in which schools were imagined differently by various communities, we can see the impact of diverse communities on the ways they define and redefine schools, as well as how they exercise a particular notion of choice as political freedom. This historical overview shows that schools have been key institutions for imagined communities as well as social and racial reproduction. Vancouver indeed presents an empirically notable place to explore the development of schools as imagined communities, as it is the largest urban district in BC and has undergone tremendous political, social, and racial changes.   76 3.2 Vancouver: differentiated school programs for a diverse population  In this section, I focus on how the development of district alternative programs has been imagined for different communities as the city of Vancouver has aspired to become a global city over the past three decades. The Vancouver School District has been continuously reimagined by those who live and work in the city, and further by those whose education is more valued than that of others, as I already touched upon in the previous section. In this section, I focus on the growing income inequality and racial and ethnic diversity of the past three decades and how these changes have resulted in the rise of educational and social exclusion by private schools and public school choice.  The Vancouver School Board has long been committed to promoting school choice and more broadly the devolution of the public system through entrepreneurial activities. While the province of BC adopted the policy of open enrolment in 2002, the Vancouver School Board  adopted a broad framework of school choice in the early 1970s.30 This adoption of an open boundaries policy indeed occurred around the same time as in Alberta, the most marketized provincial system of education in Canada.31 The VSB?s recent statement below echoes Clark?s                                                  30 Because of the decentralized nature of the Canadian education system, school boards have a considerable level of control over educational policies implemented at the district level (Young, Levin, & Wallin, 2007). Nonetheless, the provincial government?s current move towards promoting open enrolment has made a notable impact on increasing school choice practice in Vancouver. The increasing number of students (i.e., around 34% of the total number of secondary students) who choose programs outside their assigned neighbourhood public schools is a good indicator of this provincial policy?s impact across the city.   31 The VSB?s adoption of open enrolment policy occurred after the New Democratic Party (NDP) government?s amendment of the Public School Act in 1974, which relaxed centralized regulation of the education system by allowing school boards to regulate and determine the curriculum of their schools (Fisher & Gill, 1985).   77 earlier statement in the introduction, expressing the advanced neoliberal imaginary of education through the market system.  Before you enrol your child, explore the available options that may suit your child?s needs.? For students in K?12 there are programs such as Montessori, French immersion, Mandarin bilingual, mini-schools, fine and performing arts programs, sports academies, career programs, gifted enrichment education, and an outdoor school, to name just a few options. Our district programs are designed to provide innovative learning experiences for students both inside and outside of the classroom. (Vancouver School Board, 2012a)   The Vancouver School District opened school boundaries within the district and introduced alternative district programs that spanned opposite ends of ?the educational spectrum? in the 1970s. The district established the following: (1) district-specified programs (mini schools and other enriched programs) and (2) rehabilitative alternative programs (Pearmain, 1998, p. 3).  The first mini school was established at Prince of Wales Secondary in 1973 (Rothstein, 1999). Prince of Wales Mini School was envisioned by a group of West Side parents who desired a different kind of education for their children (Rothstein, 1999). By 1998, twelve programs had been introduced as district-specified alternative programs (a.k.a. mini schools). They were academically enriched or accelerated, and thus selective, programs, admitting only those with high academic performance and motivation. According to a 1998 VSB document, the Board adopted a policy to develop at least one mini school program at every secondary school in Vancouver. In 2012?2013, the total number of mini schools is 25. Most mini schools, with some  78 exceptions, enrol approximately 30 students in each grade, starting in Grade 8. As shown in Table 1, the total enrolment of mini students varies from school to school.  According to the VSB?s Options brochure, mini schools offer a wide range of differentiated educational programs that aim to meet the needs of diverse communities. Some offer accelerated learning of the provincial curriculum (enabling earlier graduation if desired) while others offer enriched learning of the provincial curriculum (by delving into the subject matter in depth, often enhanced with multidisciplinary learning), special advanced placement courses, or the International Baccalaureate program. Mini schools are mostly housed within regular public school buildings and share their facilities, and many regular and mini school students take some of their courses side by side. As such, mini schools are created mostly for those who are thought to excel and thus stand out from the standard, comprehensive secondary school curriculum offered by neighbourhood public schools. Many mini schools also have a unique focus, such as the University Transition Program,32 fine arts, science, Montessori, gifted education, technology, sports, and so on. These secondary programs therefore appeal to a particular niche group of parents.  Notable in the brochure?which lists and describes all the choice programs in the Vancouver secondary school system?is the keyword ?community,? which is present in all the schools? descriptions. Each mini school?s description and activities contain the idea and involvement of community in various ways. Some examples of these phrases include ? ?Community involvement with leadership? ? ?Work with a community of students who share their interest? ? ?Community service outside the school?                                                  32 The University Transition Program offers accelerated coursework that allows students to complete the secondary school curriculum within two years and apply for early admission to the University of British Columbia.  79 ? ?A student-centred community of learning? ? ?A sense of community? ? ?Fieldtrips in the community? ? ?Build and sustain community? ? ?Community combined with teacher and parental involvement? ? ?Active, involved, community-minded students? ? ?Learning community to support their education?  Mini schools offer more frequent and extensive fieldtrips in order to build a sense of community. While the specific meaning of the word ?community? that underpins each program is unclear, the emphasis on creating community suggests a continuing struggle over the boundaries of each school?s communities, as well as the meanings attributed to each school as an assumed a priori ?community.? Especially given the current practice of rigorous selection and elimination processes, these assumed communities are implicitly exclusive.  French Immersion programs similarly create schools that unite a particular group of parents based on learning of the second official language of Canada. In the context of the Canadian nation-state, the French language is also critical to the imagined community of a bilingual Canada or the so-called founding nations of early Canada. This imagined community is also supported by the Canadian federal government, which has increased the funding of French Immersion since the 1970s as a way to maintain English?French solidarity across the nation. As a result of the federal government?s political and financial support, French Immersion?s popularity as a choice option has increased among a group of English-speaking Canadian families who are largely of white European descent. As such, while the French Immersion program has grown in popularity and currently serves 45,000 children across BC, with long wait lists, most of the students are white and from middle-class families (Feldman, 2011). These options are often not chosen by immigrant families, especially those whose mother tongue is not  80 English. Those who were born outside Canada have to take an English proficiency test at age four to enter a French-Immersion kindergarten.  In contrast to the highly selective choice programs, the public system has also created a number of rehabilitative alternatives programs to address ?the needs of young people who were not coping well in the mainstream schools? (Pearmain, 1998). As Pearmain notes, the development of such programs was part of a larger movement in North America. These separate programs were created for students who were ?at risk of dropping out? (Pearmain, 1998). For instance, rehabilitative programs (e.g., Operation Step Up for juvenile offenders) were developed specifically for students who had dropped out of school or who were identified as potential dropouts. By 1996, young-parent programs or on-site daycares were reported to be available in about 40 schools across BC (British Columbia Teachers Federation, 1996; Kelly, 2000). Meanwhile, students with special needs were integrated into regular classrooms in 1989 by a ministerial order. These types of alternative programs targeting the specific needs of particular groups of youth ?at risk? were implemented to be more inclusive of students with different and challenging needs. Nevertheless, some of these programs have become underfunded and, in a few cases, have dissolved in recent years (Vancouver School Board, n.d.). For instance, at East High, the number of alternative programs targeted at students in need has declined during the same period that the number of mini schools and French Immersion enrolment has increased. In other words, school funding in BC education is shifting towards prioritizing programs of choice that ensure class advantages. District-specialized programs and rehabilitative programs are clearly imagined for different groups of students and parents. Rehabilitative programs facilitate the completion of secondary school for youths who are challenged by the regular program. Mini schools and  81 French Immersion schools tend to appeal to middle-class families or educationally aspiring working-class families who already possess the national capital of English. These programs exclude recent immigrant students who have low-level English-language skills. Some mini schools exclude ESL applicants. Entrance to mini schools is highly competitive, as many more students apply than there are available places. Students are selected using extensive criteria set by both the district and each school. At some popular schools, over 500 students apply for only 30 spaces.  Since the beginning of the streaming of secondary programs, some have criticized how these programs end up serving different communities rather than bringing everyone together. While some praised the increase in gifted and enriched programs, there was criticism, and questions were raised about whether these programs would only serve middle-class West Side students. These criticisms were evident in Vancouver Sun articles: ?Children in the centre-East corridor of have-not and inner-city schools are far less likely to have access to an enrichment teacher or gifted program? (Bula, 1988; Outdoor program eyed for east side," 1991). The articles cited the following statistics:  ? Of the 240 students in the gifted program at Churchill last year, only 28 were from the East Side. ? Of the 180 at Hamber?s Challenge program, fewer than 18 were from the East Side. ? Only 4 of the 109 students enrolled in the TREK program at Prince of Wales secondary school, located on the West Side, were from the East Side. ? Only about 30 of the 150 students at Prince of Wales Mini School made the East?West journey across the city each school day. ? At Point Grey Mini School, almost 40% of the 150 students were from the East Side. ? In 1991, only two of the district?s eight specialized mini schools that offered enriched programs were on the East Side.   82 While more mini schools are now in operation across the city today, West Side schools continue to be more sought after than East Side schools. This is particularly noticeable at mini school information evenings. Most West Side school auditoriums fill quickly and often do not have enough seats for all who attend their information evenings. This shows how schools are perceived and imagined differently. Indeed, as the rising enrolment at mini schools and in the French Immersion program indicates, interest in selective alternative education continues to rise. Different district programs target groups of learner communities who imagine different futures. These differentiated meanings of the future are ultimately reflective of both an inherited social position as well as divergent and stratified societal structures.  3.2.1 Growing inequality and schools as imagined communities  While choice is increasing in both private and public sectors, it is neither available to all nor imagined by all. While BC is enjoying a period of economic growth at the beginning of the 21st century, this growth has not benefited everyone. As in other global cities, neoliberal globalization has largely benefited professional, technical, and managerial sectors while impoverishing manual and service workers (Sassen, 2000, 2005; Sommers, 2003/4).33 Between 1980 and 2000 in Metro Vancouver, those in the 10th income percentile saw their earnings fall by 25%, while those in the 90th percentile saw a rise of 5.3%. Almost half of visible minority households (46%) lived under the poverty line in 2001, while Canadian-born visible minorities continue to earn lower incomes than Canadian-born whites (1971?2001) (Hiebert, 2005;                                                  33 The share of wages, salaries, and commission in the provincial GDP declined (from 53.2% in 2000 to 50% in 2004 (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2006).  83 Pendakur & Pendakur, 2004). In 2001, the employment rate of Aboriginal workers was at 61.8%, 17 percentage points lower than non-Aboriginals; their median earnings were $20,038, roughly $7,800 less than non-Aboriginals; and the percentage of Aboriginals earning a low income was 40.9%, 21 percentage points higher than non-Aboriginals in 2001 (Heisz, 2006). While these income differences are reflective of individual families? purchasing power, they also feed into the ways in which different families imagine their own cultural capital and therefore their potential to acquire and consume different futures and forms of education. Growing income inequality across the city indeed illuminates the growing economic and social exclusion of private schools and public school choice.  Indeed, private school choices are more available on the affluent West Side of Vancouver. About a third (34.5%) of all students attending secondary schools on the West Side  were enrolled in private schools in 2009.34 This is reflective of higher wealth, especially from the rapid accumulation of real estate profits, on the West Side of Vancouver. On the West Side, the average price of a single-family detached house jumped from under half a million dollars in 2001 to a million dollars in 200735; the average rental rate of a standard condo increased by more than 100% from $1,000 in 2000 to $2,200 in 2007, while the rental rate of a house rose from $1,600 to $3,400 during the same period (Lee, Villagomez, Gurstein, Eby, & Wyly, 2008). Further, average parental income for the eight West Side public secondary schools was about $82,537                                                  34 For example, I was able to approximate from the Fraser Institute report card data that 16% of all Grade 12 students in Vancouver attend private schools. This number is comparable to the figure in the VSB?s report on enrolment in the private sector in Vancouver. The list excluded Fraser Academy, a private school for students with dyslexia and language-based learning disabilities.  35 On the East Side, the price increased from $340,000 to over $600,000 (Lee et al., 2008).  84 compared to $43,111 for the East Side public secondary schools and $93,488 for all private schools in 2009 (Fraser Institute, 2009).Hence, it is not surprising to learn that most private schools flourish on the West Side.36 In this urban housing market condition, those families who can no longer afford to buy homes tend to live in gentrifying neighbourhoods in central or East Vancouver, and they send their children to schools on the West Side, where they seek out their imagined middle-class communities and exercise their class advantages.  Meanwhile, enrolment has dropped across all East Side schools since 2002, while it has increased with few exceptions at West Side schools.37 Lack of affordability in the housing market is driving working-class families out of Vancouver; as a result, the deepest dips in enrolment are in more low-income areas ("Activists question school enrolment information ", 2009, Oct 14). Also, the low enrolment at East Side schools may be related to how the children of middle-class gentrifiers are opting out of their neighbourhood public schools. Instead, they attend independent schools or mini schools across the city. Concurrently, school choice movement from the affluent West Side to the East Side neighbourhoods is seldom observed. During my field study, it was difficult to find anyone from the West Side applying to an East                                                  36 All except two private schools are on the West Side or downtown. Following the establishment of the first private school in 1898, most schools opened their doors between 1922 and 1932. This period also overlapped with a period of serious economic recession, followed by the Great Depression. In recent decades, following the introduction of private school funding in 1977, six new independent schools have opened. Also, the rise of private schools on the West Side reflects the increasing wealth of the city?s middle and upper-classes as a result of the housing real estate boom and in general through increasingly unequal income distribution and less progressive neoliberal taxation policies (CCPA, 2007). As for the East Side private schools, one is religious and the other, a new, elite college preparation school, offers the International Baccalaureate program. 37 See the Vancouver School Board?s reference guide, available on its website.  85 Side mini school and/or attending one. This has been the case in spite of the Vancouver School Board?s efforts to raise and maintain enrolment on the East Side by creating comparable mini schools there. In other words, how families and students imagine their schools as communities may not be entirely dependent on academic programs but also on neighbourhood characteristics. This is evident in the declining enrolment at some East Side mini schools, which has led to calls for closures under recent budget cuts (O'Connor, Apr 23, 2010). Ethnicized and racialized spatial divisions and school choice Meanwhile, as increasing numbers of immigrants arrive and settle in ethnic neighbourhoods in Vancouver, neighbourhood public schools are becoming ethnically divided and marginalized as potentially problematic educational sites (Keung, 2004). Some schools are perceived as ?Caucasian schools? while others are characterized as ?Asian schools? or ?brown schools,? which I discuss further in Chapter 7. Statistically speaking, the isolation index, which measures the probability that a visible minority individual will meet only members of his or her own group in a neighbourhood, has been increasing since 1981. One particularly notable group is South Asians, who have experienced an increase on the isolation index as a result of residential segregation (Hou & Garnett, 2004). Further, ethnic demographers note an increase in rapid replacement, which refers to a phenomenon of population recomposition in which the rate of decline of a non-visible minority population (i.e., white) in a neighbourhood is greater than the median rate of the group?s decline in all neighbourhoods and the vacancy is then filled by a visible minority. This rapid replacement phenomenon was noted in 48 out of the 55 newly formed Chinese neighbourhoods and 5 out of 12 South Asian neighbourhoods (Hou & Picot,  86 2004). These areas have also been identified as experiencing a high level of unemployment and low incomes (Hou & Picot, 2004).  Subsequently, neighbourhood public schools have become more ethnically and racially homogenous (see Figure 3.1). This ethnic unevenness is clearly reflected in the linguistic composition of Vancouver schools.38 To highlight the division, I purposefully sampled the following four secondary schools in Figure 3.1 by home language (i.e., native language) in order to illustrate the different linguistic and ethnic groups in various secondary schools in the city. At School A, the largest language group (with over 30% of first-language speakers) was Punjabi, which indicates that the school is located in a visible-minority neighbourhood. School B had close to 70% native English speakers. In School C, close to 20% of the student body spoke Tagalog while over 10% spoke Vietnamese at home. At School D, more students (close to 40%) spoke Mandarin at home than any other language. This reveals that the distribution of different racial and ethnic groups across Vancouver secondary schools is strikingly uneven. In the era of the education market, public schools in ?visible minority neighbourhoods?39 are increasingly marginalized and thus avoided.                                                  38 In the Vancouver School District, the population of students who speak English at home is approximately 49% (compared to the 23% of designated ESL students who have been in Canada less than five years), which has grown in the past five years by about four percentage points. This indicates that a large proportion of students come from homes where English is not spoken on a daily basis. As shown in Figure 7.1, approximately 50% of the students in the Vancouver School Board speak languages other than English at home.   39 A visible-minority neighbourhood refers to a neighbourhood where more than 30% of the population is from one specific ethnic group. The number of visible-minority neighbourhoods in Canada?s three largest metropolitan cities increased from 6 in 1981 to 254 in 2001 (Keung, 2004). Vancouver had 111 visible minority neighbourhoods in 2001 (Keung, 2004).  87  Figure 3.1 Four schools from the Vancouver School District by home language School A 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70PunjabiEnglishTagalog (Philipino)HindiVietnameseSpanishCantonesePilipinoChineseGujarati School B 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70EnglishMandarinKoreanCantoneseFrenchSpanishChineseRussi nJapaneseSerbian% School C 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70EnglishTagalog (Philipino)VietnameseCantoneseMandarinPunjabiPilipinoTamilSpanishChinese% School D 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70MandarinEnglishKoreanChineseCantonesePersianSpanishArabicJapaneseSinhalese% (Source: School Reports, BC Ministry of Education, 2011).  88 3.3 Schools  The two schools where my study took place are representative samples of these socially, racially, and ethnically divided neighbourhoods of Vancouver. While the West Side of Vancouver has become increasingly diversified in recent years, in the urban imaginary of Vancouver, West Side schools are imagined differently than East Side schools. In this last section of the chapter, I discuss how each school has been changed and characterized throughout its history against the backdrop of changing urban and provincial contexts.  3.3.1 West High  West High is a coeducational, multiethnic comprehensive school situated in the West Side of the city. It is among some of the highest performing schools in the city and province. This is noticeable in the school?s yearly report (2011?2012), which shows that over a quarter of the student body made the principal?s list (with a GPA above 89.5%) while about half of the study body made the honour roll (with a GPA above 85.5%). Also, the Fraser Institute?s school report (i.e., league tables) has ranked West High among some of the top?as in ?best??schools in the province for the past several years. Reflective of this positive reputation, West High?s enrolment grew by about 25%?from 1,086 in 2001 to 1,364 in 2009?during a period when Vancouver?s overall public school enrolment dropped.  This school has been perceived as a white school because of its location in Vancouver?s West Side, which is occupied by relatively wealthier immigrants and residents: professionals of British or Western European descent. In recent years, an increasing number of middle-class Asian immigrants from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China have settled in these neighbourhoods (Brunet-Jailly, 2008; Ley & Dobson, 2008). The top three career titles of residents in the  89 school?s neighbourhoods are teacher, professor, and scientist. The neighbourhood surrounding West High is also one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in the city (and the country). In 2006, the average family income in the school?s catchment area ranged from $98,435 to $123,087, compared to Vancouver?s median income of $47,000 (according to 2006 Canadian Census data). Recently, the West Side has received a large investment of international capital as middle-class immigrants from Hong Kong and Taiwan settle in the neighbourhood, which is well reflected in the sudden rise of real estate prices and the associated racial tensions and conflicts over real estate and the housing crisis (Mitchell, 2004). The 2006 census showed a relatively homogeneous population of English-speaking Canadians (72%), but the demographics of the neighbourhood are rapidly changing. This rapid change is reflected in the school statistics. In 2010?2011, 57% of West High students spoke English at home, 23% spoke Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese, and other Chinese dialects), 4% spoke Korean, and a minority of other students spoke languages including Japanese, French, Spanish, Tagalog, and Portuguese. As some of my West High participants noted, the school?s population has become much more diverse in the last five years, although as noted in my transcripts, students on the East Side have a tendency to perceive West High as a Caucasian school.  The neighbourhood and school also benefit educationally by their geographical proximity to the University of British Columbia (UBC). With internationally known scholars (including a few notable Nobel Prize?winning academics) present on campus, UBC is globally recognized. A recent report, the 2012 Times Higher Education Reputation Rankings, lists UBC as one of the top 25 universities in the world. UBC has become a magnet for international students from  90 affluent families around the world, especially those from Asia.40 As a result, West High also draws a large number of international students: 90 students in 2011, which is about 10% of the total number of international students enrolled in VSB schools (Statistics Canada, 2008a). The high number of international students at West High is indicative of its reputation in the global education market and how international students imagine this school when compared to the other 17 secondary schools in Vancouver. Conversely, the number of Aboriginal students at West High is notably quite low, fewer than ten students in 2011.  Further, I learned from informal conversations with parents that West High has been refined through the introduction of the mini school, which selectively admits high-achieving and well-supported students. In the past, the school was not considered the most desirable?it was plagued by drug problems in the 1990s?yet the school changed its reputation by opening the mini school. This radically transformed the academic and social culture by creating competition and selecting students who were academically competitive. It is this combination of high academic achievement and a ?good? neighbourhood that attracts many to this school today. This was evident when I spoke to mini school applicants and students. When it came to choosing between their neighbourhood school and West High, many suggested that it was not so much the special program offered at the mini school that attracted them; they were attracted to the school?s academic focus and success. It is thus likely that they would not have enrolled in a similar special program if it had been housed within an East Side school. I further elaborate on these points in my data chapters.                                                  40 The two public secondary schools located at the university?one regular public secondary school on the University Endowment Lands and one mini school located within a university building and taught by UBC professors?are the city?s most popular and competitive schools, drawing students both provincially and globally.  91 West High Mini School was established in 1999 to create a school within a school that would promote strong academic achievement as well as foster a passion for learning in a specialized alternative program. The program is designed for above-average students who are self-motivated and possess a record of high academic achievement. The academic courses (e.g., English, Social Studies, and Science) are enriched for the mini students? cohort, are offered in classrooms separate from the main school, and often require more extensive homework than regular classes. Also, these courses are designed to require students to be creative in many subject areas in order to foster academic and artistic excellence. Almost all mini students are expected to enter university after graduation, and many receive early admission. As some of my participants mentioned, mini students stand out as high-achieving students at West High, and they tend to take Advanced Placement English in their senior years.  I repeatedly noted during my fieldwork, and in informal conversations with parents, students, and school staff, that the school attracts many families from out of its catchment area mainly because parents perceive the school as being safe and as having high achievement standards. On the day of mini school interviews, held in February 2010, I met excited and anxious parents from Saskatchewan, Merritt, Coquitlam, New Westminster, Burnaby, and Richmond (field note, February 2, 2010). Some parents were quite adamant about enrolling their child at West High?either by successful entry into the mini school or by moving to the neighbourhood. In the new dynamics of the education market, the school is known as ?a private school in the public system? that caters to a particular community (field note, February 2, 2010). Situated in an affluent and highly educated neighbourhood in Vancouver, West High is imagined to be an ideal Canadian school, a white middle-class school in a safe neighbourhood, although the numbers of racial and ethnic minority students are rapidly increasing.  92  3.3.2 East High  East High is a coeducational comprehensive public secondary school in East Vancouver. Although enrolment has declined over the years, this school has a slightly higher number of students than West High, approximately 1,650. The school?s yearly plan (2011?2012) indicates that it serves neighbourhoods with the highest proportions of economically disadvantaged and marginalized students in the city. The school has a sizable group of Aboriginal students, and about one eighth of students are identified as having special needs. As such, the school as a whole is focused on supporting student learning. The emphasis lies on improving graduation rates (rather than honour roll rates) in the annual school plan. During my study period, the school offered a range of programs to support students of low achievement and with special needs. Some of these programs have since moved to other schools in the city or have disappeared altogether. For instance, an alternative program that provided support to at-risk Aboriginal learners in Grades 9 and 10 who required academic and social support within a school setting was cut in 2012.  One major change over the past decade is that the school has considerably shifted its academic focus and school resources towards the needs of high-achieving students. It now offers two mini school programs and a French Immersion program. Each mini school offers an enriched and accelerated curriculum for 30 students in each grade from Grades 8 to 10. French Immersion courses are offered to students who have successfully completed early or late immersion programs at the elementary school level and wish to receive a bilingual Dogwood Certificate. Because of the wide range of choices offered to the increasingly diverse population  93 the school serves, some researchers41 have proclaimed East High to be successfully reimagined as a strong and flourishing urban school that can accommodate the diverse needs and interests of an urban population. Arguably, this shift is reflective, at least in part, of the changing demographics of East High neighbourhoods, many of which have undergone radical changes following a substantial rise in the proportion of middle-class residents, who have raised the average income and educational offerings of the area. Historically, British immigrants with backgrounds in trades, shop-keeping, shipping, and construction settled in large numbers on the East Side and in the neighbourhoods adjacent to East High at the beginning of the 20th century (Buchan, 1985). Since then, with its low-cost (though sometimes substandard) housing and close proximity to the core of Vancouver, the neighbourhood has largely served as a residence for immigrants (Jensen, 1974). Compared to the West Side, the neighbourhood has been historically more multi-ethnic: Italians, Chinese, East Indians, Portuguese, Spanish, and East Europeans have all lived there (Buchan 1985). Since the 1970s, the number of Asian immigrants, including Chinese, Vietnamese, and Filipino settlers, has noticeably increased.42 Since the 1980s, the neighbourhood has seen an increase in gentrification, pushing the long-term low-income residents further away to the suburbs. Meanwhile, single-family detached dwellings and duplexes have been upgraded and more and more retail stores have opened up to meet the demands of gentrifiers rather than the neighbourhood?s traditional residents (Buchan, 1985). Average household income levels                                                  41 To protect the anonymity of the studied school, I have omitted the names of the researchers.  42 The proportion of residents with Chinese as their native language has increased to 18%, Vietnamese to 4.2% (1250 persons), and Tagalog (Filipino) to 2%. In contrast, the number of Italian- and Portuguese-speaking residents has declined.  94 have increased at a rate similar to that of the rest of Vancouver, and the percentage of residents with professional careers and university degrees has increased more rapidly (Buchan, 1985). In fact, the rising prices of real estate and renting have made the cost of living unaffordable for many long-time neighbourhood residents (Tupechka, Martin, & Douglas, 1997).   While the school continues to serve neighbourhoods with the most economically and socially marginalized populations in the city, it has also responded to the priorities, concerns, and values of a rapidly growing number of middle-class families in gentrifying neighbourhoods (by offering the enriched academic programs of mini schools and French Immersion).43 Nevertheless, the neighbourhood and its schools continue to be perceived?largely by middle-class families?as less academically inclined and more prone to violence and gang activity than West Side schools. The East Side continues to be a low-income area (and it has a high proportion of single parents) (City of Vancouver, 2006).44 The widely circulating urban imaginary continues to paint East High as less academically-inclined and more violent than West Side schools. The media often portrays the city?s East Side as the part of town where all the problems are concentrated?especially drug-related crime, prostitution, shootings, poverty, and gang violence (see further discussion in Chapter 6). Furthermore, recent provincial austerity measures have caused the Vancouver School District to readjust its priorities, which has resulted in the                                                  43 In 2010?2011, the top five languages spoken at home by East High students were English (42%), Chinese (30%), Vietnamese (8%), Tagalog (6%), and Spanish (4%). 44 Over the past four decades, the number of single-parent families has increased steadily in Vancouver and more rapidly in the East Side neighbourhoods. In Vancouver, the rate rose by 40% from 12.2% in 1971 to 17% in 2001, and it rose by 50%, from 17.6% to 26.4%, in the neighbourhoods adjacent to East High (City of Vancouver, 2009; City of Vancouver Planning Department, 1985).  95 underfunding of alternative programs for disadvantaged students, especially at East High, as noted earlier (Vancouver School Board, n.d.). While parent fundraising may offset the decreased public funding under neoliberal policy measures in wealthy neighbourhoods, many struggling  East Side neighbourhood schools, including East High, may not have access to this fundraising.45 Schooling on the East Side, including mini schools, thus continues to be high risk for middle- class families.46 Consequently, despite East High?s efforts to support increasingly diverse inner-city populations by diversifying its academic programs, the school continues to be somewhat                                                  45 In BC, education funding has been declining; the percentage of BC?s GDP spent on education fell from 3.6% in 2003?2004 to 3.3% in 2005?2006; the number of full-time educators in Canada decreased by 2% in 2009?2010 after increasing by 5% between 2005 and 2006; and, finally, while the number of BC students in the highest-need, highest-expenditure category has risen by 6,187 (to a total of 24,029 students) over the past decade, BC has lost 752 special education teachers over the same period (British Columbia Teachers' Federation, 2009, 2012). While West Side schools have been able to make up for their lack of resources with parent fundraising, their counterparts on the East Side have not been able to do so. In fact, in a recent panel discussion on elementary school fundraising in Vancouver, a drastic discrepancy was noted between two public schools on the East and West Sides of the city. East Hastings Elementary on the East Side raised about $5,000 in 2011 while Lord Kitchener Elementary on the West Side expected to raise about $40,000 (Tremonti, 2011, September 22). As a result of this disparity, school choice allows individual students to switch schools in order to gain access to more resources, in addition to more positive imagery. 46 For instance, teachers and parents at MacDonald Elementary School became increasingly concerned about students achieving an adequate level of education. With large class sizes, many special needs children, and the risk of young girls being recruited into the sex trade, they declared a ?state of crisis? (Tupechka et al., 1997). Tupechka et al. (1997) note that due to concentrated sex trade activity in the neighbourhood, local activists and parents at the school tried to establish a ?no-go zone? to keep sex workers, pimps, and johns away from the six-block area around the school.  96 marginalized and pathologized in the urban imaginary, as the following data chapters illustrate. What is apparent in the growing number of mini schools and French Immersion programs at both East High and West High is that public schools in Vancouver are creating more exclusive educational and social communities in the face of the growing challenges of meeting the needs and interests of diverse and unequal urban populations in the aspiring global city of Vancouver.  3.4 Conclusion  In this chapter, I have argued that in BC and Vancouver, school choice has been historically used throughout its educational history as a way to imagine schools as communities, which serves not only as a familial strategy of social reproduction but also as a group strategy of building ethnically and racially envisioned communities. While I agree that parental school choice is a key strategy to ?preserve or enhance a family?s position into the next generation,? as it is in other parts of the world, such as in the UK and the US (See Ball, 2003; Gidney & Millar, 1990, p. 26), the policy of school choice in Canada and particularly the choice practices endorsed by the BC government have functioned to regulate how learners and families view themselves in relation to the wider social order. These practices represent a particular kind of cultural governance that has reshaped and continues to recast social behaviours and cultural practices, and modes of family and youth identification, alongside the making of particular group identities (Shore & Wright, 1997). To understand the dual social function of school choice as both parental and group strategy, I have discussed the various kinds of schools as imagined communities from the early white settlement society to the current multicultural urban context of BC and Vancouver. While the social, racial, and political landscapes are vastly different today compared to those of the 19th century, my documentary analysis of historical and policy texts shows that  97 schools are continuously imagined as particular social communities, although the politics surrounding school choice have changed to some extent. In the next chapter, I present my overarching methodology and outline, in particular, what could be referred to as critical social phenomenological policy research methodology. I then move forward to further detail my ethnographic study methods and discuss some of the key challenges I faced in conducting this work.  98 Chapter  4: A critical socio-phenomenological approach to policy research  On my third visit to East High, during lunch break, I went up to the ? floor where mini students take their classes. I wanted to say hello to the Grade 8 mini school English teacher and ask to observe her class sometime next week. There, I saw an unusually large circle of students sitting on the floor. Some were sitting on their backpacks, but most were sitting on the concrete floor. Some were eating their lunch, while many of them had their textbooks and notebooks open. They seemed to be eating and working (on some assignments) together at the same time. As I approached the classroom for mini school English, I asked one of the students sitting in the circle whether this was the classroom for Grade 8 English for mini students. She said yes and that all the students there were waiting for the class. This encounter reminded me of a group of French Immersion students I had seen eating lunch together in the hallway on the ground floor. This is really interesting?. I wonder how this is a manifestation of social separation, reflective of academic divisions. (field note, January 15, 2010)  Understanding is not concerned with grasping a fact but with apprehending a possibility of being?. What is important here is not the existential moment of responsibility or free choice, but rather the structure of being which underlies the problem of choice. The ?either ? or? is not primary; it is derived from the structure of the thrown project. (Ricoeur, 1981, p. 57)   99  In order to explore the complexity of young people?s experiences of school choice in relation to ?the structure of being,? as Ricoeur (1981, p. 57) describes above, I deploy a critical socio-phenomenological approach to policy research. This is an interdisciplinary methodological approach that combines the anthropology of policy, critical policy, and interpretive policy studies. I argue that such an approach helps illuminate young people?s experiences, interpretations, and understandings of policy by examining how young people interpret and imagine their lives and futures in a prevailing and further advancing neoliberal imaginary. I argue that this combined methodological approach has the potential to assist in understanding policy as a dialectical process between policymakers and the often marginalized views and meanings of young people in a radically changing urban and educational landscape.  This chapter thus puts forth this interdisciplinary approach in hopes of raising the potential to expand existing methodological frameworks of school choice policy research. Some of the existing research paradigms, while important in their own time, may limit us from fully understanding the meanings generated by young people when examining the tensions between school choice and educational and social experiences. As discussed in Chapter 2, the dominant paradigmatic theoretical and epistemological frameworks tend to overlook the complex dimensions of school choice policy in young people?s lives. Existing policy studies tend to frame their objectives for policy, that is, to inform policymakers of whether programs should continue or be modified (Yanow, 2000). Subsequently, most attention has been paid to the performance of students?rather than to their experiences?as the government objectives of choice policy have focused mainly on academic performance. By focusing on what can be studied objectively and quantitatively, a positivistic paradigm frames the notion of choice as a rational process, which is limiting (Bowe et al., 1994). This can be partially explained by the paucity of theories  100 concerning the effects of educational policy on young people. Even sociological studies of school choice policy that investigate experiences of choice tend to predominantly focus upon parents, leaving out the experiential and imaginative dimensions of youth (Reay & Lucey, 2003). Similarly, critical studies utilizing the tools of discourse analysis on their own have sometimes subtle limitations, especially the inability to assess how shifting language is made sense of by young people who are differentially positioned with varying life experiences and circumstances. We are therefore left with a sometimes piecemeal approach to the wider questions of policy analysis.  This chapter is divided into three parts. In Part I, I first discuss how the anthropology of policy can help investigate school choice policy as an imaginary that plays a part in shaping norms, practices, experiences, and young people?s everyday understandings of current ?freedoms,? constraints, and horizons of possibility (Rizvi & Lingard, 2010; Shore & Wright, 1997; Taylor, 2004). I then go on to draw upon interpretive policy analysis to explore young people?s interpretations and imaginations of school choice (Yanow, 2000). I conclude by demonstrating how these two can be combined using a broader critical policy approach, which I present as a critical socio-phenomenological approach to policy analysis. In Part II, I discuss the importance of multi-sited ethnographic methods in trying to provide a richer understanding of the interface between school choice and young people. I highlight the importance of non-participant observation in addition to interviewing and documenting data. In Part III, I focus on my researcher positionality and research values, as well as how I have grappled with issues of power as well as my own biases in conducting a school-based ethnographic study of educational policy influenced by the advanced neoliberal zeitgeist (Lauder et al., 2006).   101 4.1 What is a critical, socio-phenomenological policy analysis?  My research aim is to  understand the phenomenon of school choice policy from the lived everyday schooling experiences of young people with different social and racial backgrounds. In doing so, I simultaneously analyze the power of policy that underpins young people?s imagined worlds of schooling, their futures, and their relationship-making in a global city. To achieve this aim, I have interwoven a critical policy tradition with interpretivist and anthropological research traditions. I first outline this combined approach, which I call a critical socio-phenomenological approach to policy studies, and then discuss how it can be an effective way to study young people and school choice policy in an aspiring global city. In this discussion, I address questions of commensurability among these different traditions.  The ontological position I have taken in the project is primarily rooted in a critical tradition that views the nature of social reality as ?a constant struggle for power? (Lincoln, Lynham, & Guba, 2011, p. 101). Unequal power relations are formed and reformed based on class, race, gender, and space, among other things (Lincoln et al., 2011), yet I do not see ?power? as simply repressive or oppressive. Rather, following Foucault?s post-structural notion of power, I also view power as both regulative and localized (Foucault, 1980, 1984, 2000). My view of power thus stems from a combination of structural and post-structural viewpoints. This abridged notion of power also supports a critical view of multiple and contesting realities/meanings, but this view can only be taken seriously when one understands that multiple realities and contested meanings about ?choice,? for example, can only be understood within a field of constraints and possibilities and are circumscribed by social and political conditions and the social positions of actors (Bourdieu, 1991; Bourdieu & Wacquant, 1992). The ontological stance I have taken is therefore in line with an ontological dynamism rather than restricting myself to a narrow and  102 highly limited conceptual vantage point. Similar to Lincoln et al. (2011), I view different non-positivist paradigmatic traditions, especially critical theory and interpretivism, as commensurable and complementary in illuminating the complex dimensions of social reality and change. Non-positivist paradigms are founded upon a shared notion of knowledge, which is socially and culturally constructed by humans, and thus the knowers and the actors are an important part of forming and reforming social and cultural realities (Lincoln et al., 2011).What interpretive and cultural traditions add to a critical theory tradition, then, is the experiential and cultural dimensions of human understanding and knowledge formation. As such, these traditions resonate strongly with each other.  Consequently, I take an epistemological stance that combines critical, interpretive, and anthropological traditions (especially anthropology of policy), for this offers a fruitful way to understand the social and cultural worlds which are shaped and regulated by policy changes. One useful part of this combined epistemological approach is that the effects of policy can be examined simultaneously at the micro social and cultural level of young people?s lived experiences while linking their micro-understandings with a wider social imaginary, macro structures of power, and the sometimes highly mobile and globalizing discourses of policy. In the following section, I discuss in detail how I draw from each tradition in a way that is not only commensurable but also complementary.  Firstly, critical theory facilitates a focused examination into the structural issues of power as well as discourses of policy (Ball, 1994; Rizvi & Lingard, 2010). Critical theory can guide our understanding of the unequal social world through identifying where social struggles, domination, power, and privilege are negotiated and attained (Lincoln et al., 2011). Critical theory tradition helps focus our attention to history, structure, and discourse to examine and  103 understand power relations (Lincoln et al., 2011; Nealon & Giroux, 2003). Yet, in my view, this tradition is unable to produce a complete understanding of the circulation and effects of power from the important socio-cultural perspectives of lived experiences and multiple meanings. I thus combine the critical paradigm with the tradition of interpretivism. Interpretivist epistemology offers valuable insight into the importance of understanding the social world as experientially and intersubjectively constructed (Lincoln et al., 2011). My epistemological stance thus further subscribes to the concept of phenomenological knowing, which is ?rooted in the belief that reality cannot be known apart from the knower and that knowing always happens in context? (Sleeter, 2000, p. 223). To know how people see their realities at a point in history and in a particular place, in this sense, is to understand how meanings are socially experienced and how their significance is constructed by those living in particular times and spaces in the formation of peer groups, class, and local cultures (Berger & Luckmann, 1967). This kind of knowing indeed underpins the subcultural meaning-making that is built on the shared experiences of young people in their spatially differentiated class locations, which Paul Willis? (1981) study so poignantly illustrated. In turn, anthropological epistemology allows for a focus on how young people?s meanings are expressed in their cultural and educational practices. Anthropological epistemology can help us understand our world by examining cultural practices and norms. Especially in relation to policy, as Wright and Shore (1997) discuss, the power of anthropological epistemology lies in the way policy produces particular social identities, webs, and power relations by creating new cultural practices and norms (Shore & Wright, 1997). Anthropological  104 epistemology can thus be useful in assisting interpretive and critical traditions by shedding light on how policy maintains and creates new cultural practices (Shore & Wright, 1997).47 Hence, when combined with a critical tradition that emphasizes history and structure, and an interpretive tradition that emphasizes experiences and meanings, this anthropological tradition?s emphasis on culture and norms can provide a powerfully layered epistemological lens (rather than having these theories compete with or contradict one another). This combined epistemology can help us more effectively study young people?s experiences and imaginations of school choice reforms on an everyday socio-cultural level within the local historical and contemporary social context of Vancouver, BC, Canada. Building upon this interdisciplinary and inter-paradigmatic epistemology, then, I call my methodological approach a critical socio-phenomenological approach to policy studies. In particular, I utilize an interdisciplinary approach that bridges a critical policy tradition (Ball, 1994; Rizvi & Lingard, 2010), an interpretivist policy tradition (Yanow, 2000), the anthropology of policy (Shore & Wright, 1997), and the theories of other social thinkers whose work supports these three aforementioned methodological traditions. I first draw from the work of Stephen Ball (1994) and from Rizvi and Lingard?s (2010) critical policy studies approach as an umbrella framework for understanding how reforms are set within what is perceived to be possible and impossible within the political and economic contexts of education (Ball, 1994). This critical dimension enables an investigation of the workings of power and the state in connection to concerns about the contexts of current policy                                                  47 What is particularly useful about this approach is that it explores the way in which policies have the power to turn ?uncertain and fragile cultural resolutions and outcomes into a pervasive naturalism,? which then becomes fixed as common sense and practice (Willis, 1981, p. 162).    105 practice, the distributional outcomes of policy, and the discursive power of educational policy (Ball, 1994). Further, because of its sensitivity to the contexts of practice and policy, this approach can be effective in helping produce a nuanced interpretation of local structures, concerns, and conditions, which are radically changing in an era of rapid globalization (Ball, 1994; Rizvi & Lingard, 2010). Building upon this tradition, then, I delve more closely into the lived experiences and meaning-making of young people using an interpretivist tradition. I also draw upon the interpretivist policy work of Yanow (2000), who insightfully notes the importance of identifying multiple and conflicting interpretations of policy. She suggests that an interpretivist approach can help us understand particular policy effects and associated affective responses. She asserts that the interpretive tradition can help us study policy as a symbolic representation of power and prestige and can also reveal who is heard and who is silenced (Yanow, 2000). It also helps illuminate the question ?for whom does it [a policy] have meaning?? and the different consequences of a policy for a wide range of people (Yanow, 2000, p. vii). This approach can thus direct a comparative investigation of the meanings of choice for different social groups (Yanow, 2000). I then further link Yanow?s approach to Ricoeur?s (1991) phenomenological hermeneutics and Bourdieu?s social theories of habitus and social space in order to stress the importance of social positionality in meaning-making, which seems to be problematically underemphasized in the interpretivist tradition and, to some extent, in the Foucaultian-based discourse approaches (Bourdieu, 2000; Valdes, 1991). According to Ricoeur, individual readers (e.g., of policy) are not simply trying to determine the author?s intended meanings (by studying the policy?s structure). Instead, readers engage with the other ideas, discourses, and images that the text introduces (Ricoeur, 1981). In other words, when reading, people reconstitute the  106 meaning of a text regardless of the intention of the writer (Ricoeur, 1981). Readers make new and situated meanings out of a text.48 Interpretation, in other words, is linked to the ways in which individuals think about themselves while reading and interpreting policy texts.49 Here, I take a further sociological step using Bourdieu?s (2000) social phenomenology in order to suggest that multiple meanings are reflective of situated lived experiences.50 With Bourdieu?s insight, then, I suggest that young people?s interpretive and imaginative power is not simply an intellectual, mental process of disembodied interpretation. It is socially practiced, constructed, and acquired ?in the course of a situated and dated social experience? (Bourdieu, 2000, p. 137). Young people?s meaning-making practices and their interpretive capacity thus ought to be considered here alongside Bourdieu?s (2000) notion of habitus, that is, that interpretation is the function of habitus. Young people?s interpretations thus generate practical knowing or an understanding of one?s positioning in social space, which is socially, spatially, and racially uneven and hierarchical.                                                  48 In this process, Ricoeur (1981) further argues, readers forge self-understanding, which suggests that ?the constitution of the self is contemporaneous with the constitution of meaning? (p. 57). 49 This kind of Ricoeurian approach, which Mario Vald?s (1991) calls post-structural hermeneutics (where absolute knowledge is absent), can be instructive in investigating and analyzing how young people read policy (as the imaginary) in relation to their futures (?possibility of being?) (Ricoeur, 1981, p. 57). 50 As Bourdieu defines it, habitus ?restores to the agent a generating, unifying, constructing, classifying power? of social reality (Bourdieu, 2000, p. 137). Young people?s interpretations of ?good? choice, at both the subjective and collective (peer) levels, can further inform their involvement in classification struggles. Through their interpretations, we may be able to discern the differentiated objects of classification as well as produce classifications while challenging dominant classificatory schemes and systems (Bourdieu, 1984, p. 467).  107 We can thus see the link between social phenomenology and critical theory. What shapes young people?s meaning-making is not just the present but also the historically entrenched social and cultural context. As such, stressing the importance of history and structure, I use the critical tradition to inspect young people?s engagement in appropriating and reappropriating meanings. Young people are not necessarily singular authors who can make singular claims of their own, since notions of selfhood and memory are already situated in social and historical modes of identification (Bourdieu, 1984, 2000; Bourdieu & Wacquant, 1992; Skeggs, 1997). In exploring the historical dimension of young people?s meaning-making, I thus further follow Bourdieu (2000), Baert (1998), and Dillabough?s (2009) leads in theorizing social space as historical. In other words, I explore young people?s interpretations and imaginations in relation to historically specific configurations of classed and racialized urban spaces. Indeed, Rizvi and Lingard (2010) and Taylor (2004) argue that imaginaries are not simply written texts but rather habitus, consisting of everyday practices. As such, school choice imaginaries ought to be investigated not only at a meaning-making level but also at the level of cultural practices. Anthropology of policy, as illuminated by Wright and Shore (1997), can then provide a useful set of tools and approaches in this attempt to study the cultural?and, more broadly, anthropological?manifestations of policy and how policy affects and effects everyday practice. An anthropology of policy tradition can aid a close examination of the cultural effects and meaning-making of policy by offering a lens to study how policy shapes cultural patterns and processes (Shore & Wright, 1997). It can help identify how policy creates intragroup and intergroup relations through the criteria of cultural and educational inclusion and exclusion used in policy, which is a critical dimension of the theories of the imaginary as developed by Rizvi  108 and Lingard (2010) and Taylor (2004). Anthropology of policy can help illuminate how policies give shape and colour to dominant cultural practices and discourses, which in turn shape young people?s everyday cultural practices, everyday meaning-making, identity-constructions, classification struggles, and relationship-making, especially in these changing times (Mackey, 1997, 2002; Nealon & Giroux, 2003; Rizvi & Lingard, 2010; Shore & Wright, 1997).  In brief, it is my hope that this interdisciplinary methodology may provide the foundation for examining the complex dynamics and variegated effects of school choice on young people?s interpretations and imaginations of choice based on their lived experiences of the current urban school system. In this respect, I do not see the critical, interpretivist, and anthropological traditions as incommensurable; rather, I agree with the community of scholars who find that bridging dimensions of related paradigms can provide more nuanced and refined qualitative research when these paradigms are cautiously interwoven into the analysis (Dillabough, 2009; Lather, 1991, 2006; Lincoln & Guba, 2003; Lincoln et al., 2011). This cross-paradigmatic and interdisciplinary approach is a viable one for understanding the effects of policy as a complex social and cultural phenomenon. This approach can help us understand the power of school choice policy through young people?s experiences in changing urban neighourhoods and cities.  This critical socio-phenomenological approach is then distinctively different from current approaches to the studies of school choice, such as the quantitative outcomes of equity and equality, and the school choice viewpoints and behavioural patterns of parents. The methodological framework I have sought to develop seeks to place more emphasis on the lived experiences and meaning-making of the processes of inclusion and exclusion that shape individual and group dispositions, expectations, and imaginations. In particular, through this approach, I have been enabled to engage in the examination of young people?s interpretations of  109 schooling and social life in the following ways. Firstly, I have sought to collect narratives about young people?s lived experiences of school choice. Secondly, I have documented how the market functions as a process that naturalizes differences between groups and as a practice that affects individual identities and social actions within and between groups (Appadurai, 1996; Bourdieu, 1989; Shore & Wright, 1997). Thirdly, I have sought to compare the experiences of those whose practices, meaning-making, and identity-construction are either aligned or not aligned with dominant policy discourses. This approach is then well suited for examining the implicit function of policy in young individuals? experiences and interpretations of schooling operating within changing policy reform regimes.  4.2 Ethnographic methods and study participants  This multi-sited ethnographic study explores young people?s (ages 11?19) meaning-making of school choice through their cultural practices and lived experiences at a phenomenological, interpretive, and ethnographic level. My three key research methods were interviews with students, non-participant observations at schools, and media and policy document analysis. In the following section, I first discuss these key methods, then provide a more detailed account of my two study phases in two separate educational market spaces. I then discuss the power and limits of ethnographic methods for studying policy. My fieldwork took place between November 2009 and June 2010, and it consisted of two phases: (1) information evening visits and interviews with Grade 7 students, and (2) two secondary school observations    110 and interviews with Grade 8 and Grade 12 students.51   4.2.1 Interviews  I conducted semi-structured interviews with a total of 59 students residing across Vancouver with the following three aims: (1) to gain a deeper understanding of the impact of school choice on student lives, (2) to gain insight into the unequal and different realities that students experience, and (3) to further provide vivid descriptions from first-person perspectives (Kvale & Brinkmann, 2009; Tierney & Dilley, 2002).52 My interviews explored the students? lived experiences and situated interpretations and imaginations of their present and future possibilities in the city of Vancouver. The interviews lasted somewhere between 30 minutes and an hour depending on student availability and the flow of conversation. My interviews had the following three parts: background, neighbourhoods, and school choice. Appendix B provides a full description of the interview schedule.                                                   51 As mentioned in Chapter 1, I focused on Grade 7s because they were in their last year of elementary school. I interviewed them to learn about their perceptions and experiences (where applicable) of the processes of selecting, evaluating, and choosing a particular local school. Also, I focused on Grade 8s because these students were in their first year of secondary school and thus they were likely to have more critical views and experiences of the gap between their expectations and realities a few months after making the transition from elementary to secondary school. Lastly, I focused on Grade 12 students to examine their experiences of school choice in a summative sense, to explore what they perceived as the overall effects of school choice throughout their secondary school years, and to gather their assessments of the impact of school choice on their future directions.  52 An exception to this was interviews with three students who lived outside the city.  111 Background: My interviews began with a question about the students? histories of schooling. This question served as a springboard to ask follow-up questions about why they changed schools or how they experienced the changes. This then led to discussion of the current schools that they were attending and how they came to those schools. This aided me in grasping the patterns of their (and their families?) choice practices, as well as their social and economic backgrounds and circumstances. These conversations also revealed students? ethnic and migration histories, which helped distinguish their class backgrounds in their countries of origin. This helped me to discern the class backgrounds of first- and second-generation immigrant youths. Following this set of questions, I asked students about their families (e.g., parents? occupations, educational backgrounds, and ethnic backgrounds), which gave me a further understanding of their social backgrounds and the changing histories of their families? social circumstances.  Neighbourhoods and schools: I asked students about different schools and neighbourhoods in Vancouver, how they imagined different schools, and whether they could see themselves attending particular urban schools. These questions often generated a lot of material on their deeply held assumptions about the city, the neighbourhood, and the schools. Students told me about what they knew and heard about different neighbourhoods and schools and what they imagined they were like (as in an imagined community).  School choice: The focal point of my interviews was the topic of school choice in Vancouver. While I did ask them about their families? backgrounds and thus the importance of family characteristics and pressure, I was mainly curious about what they had to say about school choice. As such, my conversations with students focused on their perspectives, values, and experiences of school choice in Vancouver. In the interviews, my focus was on the whys and  112 hows of choice. I thus asked the students whether they had participated in choosing schools (and if so, what the process was like for them); what they thought about school choice; whether they thought school choice was a good thing (for them and for everyone else) and about its impact on peer relations and friendship groupings (feeling included and/or excluded); and, finally, if they had choice in that moment, what they would do differently (as well as how they viewed their futures and the kinds of identities they saw themselves having). These interrelated questions gave the students an opportunity to express their views of school choice while also reflecting on their perceptions and experiences of school choice. This also facilitated their evaluation of major obstacles to school choice that they had experienced in the past.  I chose interviews with students as the key primary investigative method because this study is intended to illuminate what young people think and experience. In other words, simply observing students? movements from one school to another may tell us something, but it will not tell us other stories of their lived experiences. Statistical information lacks in-depth data about why young people enrol in schools outside their catchment areas. The numbers may not tell us about the individual experiences of school choice processes or about the ultimate experiences that result from choosing a school outside students? familiar residential neighbourhood areas. As Valentine?s (1999) important research with children and youths shows, ?children create their own social worlds and social relations, of which adults can only ever have partial or fragmented pictures? (p. 142). In order to tap into young people?s social worlds and social relations, then, I chose interviews as a direct method to learn their perspectives. In the following data chapters, I show the ways in which young people are acutely aware of their social and educational worlds and are actively engaged in shaping many aspects of their schooling choices and the meaning-making of their experiences.  113   Clearly, there were ethical challenges involved with working with young people aged 11?19. Parents? right to, and anxiety over, access to their children had to be carefully negotiated. In this regard, I made myself visible to parents (especially those of Grade 7 students, who were between 11 and 12 years old) at information evenings so that they could see who I was and ask questions. My initial conversations with parents and their children at info evenings helped reduce the parents? potential anxiety about a researcher who was a stranger. Also, because I had the opportunity to meet both students and their parents at the same time, students? opinions about whether they wished to take part in the study were often negotiated (rather than them being persuaded to agree) on the spot (Valentine, 1999). For students in Grades 8 and 12, after gaining official access to the schools from the School Board and each participating school, I made sure that students obtained their parents? consent to take part in the study. In reflecting on this early stage of the research, my one regret is not having consent forms readily available in other languages, which would have made them more accessible for linguistic-minority parents. This may have hindered the participation of some students from these families.  After I secured access to my study participants, an additional challenge was creating an environment where effective and ethical interviews could take place with minors. For Grade 7 students, my interviews were mostly conducted in their living rooms, where their parents were often present, and they at times interrupted our conversations, except in a few homes where they allowed us to talk in a more private space with fewer interruptions. This presented some difficulties in creating a somewhat private space where I could talk to students with minimal interruptions or eavesdropping by their parents (Valentine, 1999). This spatial constraint clearly affected my interviews with some students, but I thought this was the most ethical method at the time. My interviews with Grade 8 students, whom I mostly interviewed on school grounds, were  114 also challenged by a lack of appropriate space and time. Especially at West High, I often found myself speaking to a student in the hallways or the stairwells, in addition to chatting with them in their classrooms. Also, because the students had full Monday to Friday schedules, it was challenging to find an appropriate time, especially when students did not want to give up their lunch hours for interviews.  With Grade 12 students, I gave them the option of staying near school or leaving the school grounds to meet me at places such as caf?s or the public library when they had free blocks (independent study periods on weekdays). Also, one student invited me to his home after school. One thing that came up repeatedly was that some students wished to be interviewed during class time, which I gently declined, as I felt that not only would this undermine my acceptance by important administrative staff, but it would also be unethical to ask students to give up important learning time.  While I view young people as active and struggling social agents, their participation in this study was ?locked in a series of interdependent and asymmetrical or relatively powerless relationships with adults within the context of the household, school and wider society? (Valentine, 1999, p. 151), which most certainly affected their research relationship with me. Because of concerns about both spoken and unspoken power relationships between myself as an adult researcher and young people under the age of 18, except one student who turned 19 during my research period, I was cognizant of giving the students the choice of where, when, and with whom they wanted to be interviewed (except during their scheduled classes). Also, I tried to respect them by giving them considerable control over what we discussed and for how long. I tuned in to the issues students brought up with me and focused on what they were trying to tell me about their experiences. I also tried not to correct what they said; instead, I asked them about  115 their opinions and feelings. In fact, one Grade 12 student at West High mentioned after the interview that she felt that our conversation was quite exhaustive and broad and that we had touched upon ?all? the issues that were relevant to school choice.53 In this way, I tried to work with young people who ?genuinely want to be involved and be concerned about the issue and have the time and space to work out what they want to say? (Valentine, 1999, p. 151).   4.2.2 Non-participant observation  My non-participant, open-ended observations were carried out between January 2010 and June 2010 at two secondary schools (West High and East High, which I described in Chapter 3) and between November and December of 2009 at information evenings. I chose non-participant observation techniques in order to focus more on the comparative dynamics of choice programs and regular programs at the two schools, as well as the differences between the mini school info evenings I attended. While I was not a complete ?wallflower? in any of these places, as I chatted with people occasionally, my primary focus was on actively observing the cultural, educational, and social practices of young people in their educational spaces (Cooper, Lewis, & Urquhart, 2004).  At the two schools, I compared residential locations using an ethnographic mapping technique (Schensul et al., 1999). My documentation was focused on educational and cultural activities that involved different groups of students. I sought to identify not only the ways by which educational programs separated students but also how social and cultural activities, which are often organized by students themselves, differ. At the beginning, my observation was focused                                                  53 Additionally, I dressed very casually to make young people feel at ease, which may have led to a teacher?s comment that I ?blend in too well with students? (field note, March 26, 2010).  116 on the physical space of the school and classrooms and on the socialization patterns in public settings, such as hallways, classrooms, and cafeterias, based on languages spoken and racial and ethnic characteristics. Soon, as I gained more insight into the social world of regular and mini school students at each school, I closely observed student socialization and how socialization patterns were connected to distinct educational programs. Also, I observed various school events throughout my school visits, which provided information on the various interests and priorities of different student groups. I noted where people sat in classrooms and in the cafeteria, and with whom. During my observation period, I engaged in casual conversations (but not formal interviews) with teachers, students, and school staff when it seemed appropriate. While I do not think non-participant observation alone can tell us much about the dynamics and complex effects of school choice in Vancouver, when it is combined with interview data and documentary data (as seen below), it can provide invaluable information by allowing a field researcher to focus on observing everyday environments and routine behaviours without any additional responsibilities that may distract from the study itself. For my study, non-participant observation provided rich and directly observed data about different schooling options as they are currently emerging in Vancouver as well as how these different options affect the social and cultural practices and patterns of young people, which may have been difficult to analyze otherwise (Cooper et al., 2004).  4.2.3 Policy and media texts The major aim of including popular media and policy texts was to contextualize young people?s narratives within the historical and contemporary social and political conditions of Vancouver. During my fieldwork period, as well as shortly after it, I collected a number of media  117 and policy documents, government reports, media releases, throne speeches, and legislative debates. I selected and examined relevant documents in order to gain understanding and develop empirical knowledge relevant to my research questions (Bowen, 2009). For the purpose of content-based policy analysis, I focused on the following texts at the district and provincial levels. First, I looked closely at the Vancouver School Board?s reports and policy discussion papers. Here is a list of the titles of selected documents:  ? Flexibility and Choice for Adolescent Learners (2007) ? Review of Alternative Programs (1998) ? Meeting the Needs of Secondary Students: District Programs (1999) ? Strategic Choice (2006) ? Secondary District Program Review (1998) ? Options Brochure (2002, 2009, 2011) ? Vancouver School Board Ready Reference (2001, 2012)  These documents offered useful information on emerging school choice discourses at the district level, which I have presented in Chapters 1 and 3. Some of these documents were publicly available online, while others were obtained directly from the research branch of the Vancouver School Board. I analyzed documents mainly to help my understanding of the public imaginaries of evolving conceptions of schooling and choice. The content analysis of these documents underpins much of my discussion in Chapters 1 and 3, as well as parts of Chapter 5.  Further, I examined publicly available legislative debates in order to learn how the growing school choice movement across North America affected provincial politicians? views on issues of choice, accountability, and performance in the 1990s. This was a critical step in the research, as the provincial government has educational authority over what policies the Vancouver School Board implements and acts upon at the district level. Hence, at the provincial level, I conducted a focused reading of copies of Hansard, the official transcripts of BC  118 legislative debates, to compare the views of the NDP and Liberal governments. Hansard records the words of all speakers, with redundancies omitted and obvious mistakes corrected (Legislative assembly of British Columbia, 2012). This period included a centre-left NDP-led government (1991?2001) and a centre-right Liberal-led government (2001?2006). To study this source, I used the electronic transcripts of the debates of the Legislative Assembly on the government website. I selected the official transcripts between 1991 and 2006, with a focus on keywords such as ?educational choice,? ?accountability,? and ?independent schools? (see the list below).  ? 1992 Legislative Session: 1st Session, 35th Parliament, Apr 14: School Act (Enrichment programs) ? 1993 Legislative Session: 2nd Session, 35th Parliament, May 17: Independent School Amendment Act (Educational choice, freedom of choice) ? 1994 Legislative Session: 3rd Session, 35th Parliament, June 13: Estimates: Ministry of Education (Gifted children) ? 1994 Legislative Session: 3rd Session, 35th Parliament, Apr 28: School Amendment Act (Accountability in education) ? 1998/99 Legislative Session: 3rd Session, 36th Parliament, Jun 8: Charter schools ? 2001 Legislative Session: 2nd Session, 37th Parliament, Jan 26: Public education flexibility and choice act; charter schools; magnet schools ? 2001 Legislative Session: 2nd Session, 37th Parliament, Aug 9: Access to education ? 2002 Legislative Session: 3rd Session, 37th Parliament, Apr 29: Education system reforms; purpose of School Amendment Act 2002   These documents were credible sources of emerging school choice policy and legislative debates among elected politicians. They were useful in developing my understanding of the phenomenon of school choice in the political context of BC, which has had a significant impact on the Vancouver School Board?s development of school choice programs and direction. The content analysis of these documents underpins much of my discussion in Chapters 1, 3, 5, and 8.  Popular media articles were used to document the radically polarizing social and educational changes and corresponding moral sentiments of the present day through widely  119 circulating media texts, exclusively collected from the Canadian Newsstand Index. I extensively used two local newspapers, The Vancouver Sun (province-wide readership) and The Vancouver Courier (city-wide readership). I had full access to online articles covering the period between January 2, 1987, and the present for The Vancouver Sun and between September 15, 2002, and the present for The Vancouver Courier. I used the keyword search function, typing in terms such as ?schools? (and also specific names of Vancouver public and private schools), ?Fraser Institute Report Cards,? ?school choice,? ?mini schools,? ?drugs,? ?gangs,? ?East Side,? and ?West Side.? A content analysis of media articles contextualizes my interview data analysis in Chapters 5, 6, and 7.  For document analyses, and as a result of including policy and media texts to provide a landscape of understanding of the social and political milieu and contexts in which interview participants were situated (DeVault & McCoy, 2006), I first read through my documents and noted keywords and key themes, which then helped me identify key documents cited earlier. I then closely read the culled documents, identifying pertinent information by examining concepts and themes against the central research questions, which involved a combination of thematic and content analysis (Bowen, 2009). Taken together, these texts were drawn upon to assist me in developing a deeper understanding of both the historical developments of school choice and the current political landscape and conditions associated with young people?s school choice.  Fieldwork: Phase I. November ? December, 2009: Grade 7 students at information evenings    In the months of November and December, 2009, I observed 11 mini schools, 2 regular public schools, and 3 private school information evenings, which prospective families and  120 students attended before applying to particular schools. 54 I subsequently collected information about different mini schools and their local popularity. During these meetings, I kept extensive field notes?both descriptive (e.g., the setting, actions, and information) and interpretive (e.g., thoughts, ideas, questions and concerns). I recorded what I observed at each school: How many people were present (by counting the number of seats in the venue where information evenings were held), what information the school representatives emphasized, whether student representatives were present, and, lastly, the ways young in which students who accompanied their parents participated during the information evenings (e.g., the level of enthusiasm and the kinds of participation behaviours). These were followed by my interpretations of why some schools may have a low or high number of families present, why school representatives presented particular information, and why some schools had student representatives while others did not. During this first phase of fieldwork, I focused on learning as much as I could about Grade 7 students? key secondary school choice activities in Vancouver. Upon arrival at each public school, I distributed participant recruitment flyers.55 This distribution was often followed by (or sometimes was simultaneous with) conversations with families who were interested in participating in the study and with whom I then set up interview dates and places. Also, I approximated the number of attendees by estimating the size of the rooms or facilities (e.g., library, auditorium). This was one way to gauge the popularity of each school, which is hard to know from the final number of enroled mini school students, because each mini school accepts approximately 30 students (this number differs significantly across the                                                  54 The total number of Vancouver public secondary schools is 18, while the total number of private secondary schools is 13.  55 This was not allowed at private schools.  121 city). Further, I documented how each mini school differentiates itself from others by collecting additional school details that were often missing from the Options brochure, which lists and describes all district alternative programs (published annually by the VSB).56 Additionally, I made observations of Grade 7 students, especially of how they took part in the information sessions, for example, by asking basic questions and/or taking notes about their participation in these evenings.  With the assent of the students and the consent of their parents, I conducted semi-structured interviews with Grade 7 students to learn about their experiences and their understandings of school choice with respect to their futures, as well as to study how they perceived various neighbourhood schools across the city. I conducted 11 interviews at students? homes following my initial meetings with their parents at information evenings. The interviews lasted about an hour (usually less than an hour). Although they came from different elementary schools, I soon realized that a majority of these students, except for three on the West Side, came from gentrifying central Vancouver neighbourhoods. This shows an important spatial characteristic of choice students in Vancouver, which I explore later in Chapter 7. Only one lived in a multiplex apartment; the rest lived in single-family detached houses. Although I tried to recruit racial and ethnic minority families during my visits to school information evenings, I was not successful in this recruitment. While some were willing to give me their contact information,                                                  56 Many questions were raised during information evenings. One interesting question that came up frequently was whether students must write the school?s name as their first choice in order to be considered. Depending on the school?s popularity (which I could often determine based on the number of prospective families in the auditorium), the presenter would then say yes or no. From my observation, if a school was very popular, the presenter was more likely to answer yes.     122 when contacted, they often declined due to a lack of time and interest. As a result, my participants at this early stage of student recruitment were predominantly from white, middle-class families, except for one whose parents had both Asian and European heritage. Subsequently, in order to ensure that I had students from different social, geographical, and racial backgrounds, I later recruited three more students from an East Side elementary school in Vancouver. All were ethnic minorities and were recruited with a help of a teacher who I came to know through a community liaison worker I met during my fieldwork at East High. My interviews with them were conducted in their school library, and each interview lasted for about half an hour. Table 2 below presents a breakdown of the Grade 7 students I interviewed by their socio-economic classes, ethnic backgrounds, and residential locations. As shown in the last column of Table 2, 4 of the 14 Grade 7 students lived on the West Side. Those who lived in single-family detached homes and those on the West Side tended to come from dual-income families, and, in most cases, both parents were professionals, such as professors and physiotherapists. Those who lived in apartments in inner-city neighbourhoods were from single-income households, and their parents? occupations were in low-skilled service or administrative sectors, in jobs such as convenience store clerks or office secretaries. Also, four of the Grade 7 students lived in apartments, while the rest (all white Canadians) lived in single-family detached homes. Four students were from visible minority groups, one was of mixed race, and the rest were white Canadians.  123  Table 2 Student profiles: class, space, race, and school choice                Grades 8 & 12 (45 Students) Grade 7 (14 Students)    Mini Cross-boundary Regular      East High West High Else East High West  High Else  East High West High         (8) (15) (0) (0) (4) (1) (11) (6)  Working -class (23) West Side  (0) Racial Minority                    White                     Mixed                    Else-where (23) Racial Minority (15) Jennifer, Gretchen, Juliet, Yvonne Eva, Leo     Lola   Ted, Carrie, Angela, Maya, Tilda, Kathleen   Brenda, Mary, Moira   White (4) Jeffrey, Vivian           Alicia, Sara         Mixed (4)           Jake Timothy, Sylvia     Middle -class (36) West Side (15)  Racial Minority (7)   Bob, Lilac     Albert      Adam, Hailey, Luke, Madeline    White (7)   Andy           Tiffany, Veronica Betty, Ralph, Margaret, Patrick  Mixed                     Else-where (21) Racial Minority (4) Kenneth Beverly, Amy, Susan      Cedric          White (15) Helen Owen, Sadie, Lily, Rose, Zoey, Rebecca     Miche-lle   Dylan   Kate, Tasha, Anis, Donna, Amadeus, Nicholas   Mixed (2)   Beth             Elliot    124 Fieldwork: Phase II: January ? June, 2010: Grade 8s and 12s at two schools  During the second phase of my research, I conducted non-participant observations of Grade 8s and 12s? everyday social and educational experiences at two secondary schools: one on the West Side (West High) and one on the East Side (East High). In total, I interviewed 45 students who volunteered after I made short presentations in English classrooms over a period of about a week. My interviews focused primarily on students because my intention was to understand young people?s understandings of school choice, in contrast to parents?. Also, I included a large number of students to ensure that I included students of diverse backgrounds and to learn how and what they negotiate, similarly and differently, when considering school choice. To achieve these research objectives, I interviewed Grade 8 students, as I wished to learn about their experiences of their schools in their first year of secondary school. I wondered how their lived experiences compared to their preconceived notions of the schools and students. I also targeted Grade 12 students in order to learn about what students perceive as the overall effects of school choice. I thus asked them to reflect on how the process and outcomes of school choice had affected their secondary school experiences, achievement, and socialization, as well as their future possibilities and plans on a local and global scale.  As presented in Table 2 above, at East High, I interviewed 19 students. Nine of nineteen students interviewed were in Grade 8. Seven were mini students and three were French Immersion students. All except one (who lived downtown) were East Side residents. Mini students and French Immersion students tended to come from families who owned single-family detached homes on the East Side. The distinctions between the two groups were visible in their racial and parental backgrounds. All three French Immersion students in my study were European Canadians and their parents were professionals. This indicates that those who choose  125 French Immersion have distinct social and racial backgrounds.57 In contrast, only one of the mini students involved in my study was a European Canadian; the rest were Asian Canadians. All except one came from working-class family backgrounds. The only exception to this was one student whose parents were middle-class immigrants that worked in the financial and computing sectors.  At West High, I interviewed 26 students (see Table 2). Thirteen of the twenty-six were in Grade 8. Among the Grade 8s, six were Asian Canadians, one was of mixed race, and the rest were European Canadians. Among the Grade 12, 6 were Asian Canadians, 2 were of mixed race, one was a Middle-Eastern Canadian, and the rest were European Canadians. Among the Grade 8s, 7 were mini students, two were cross-boundary students, and the rest were students residing in the school?s immediate neighbourhood. Among the Grade 12s, six were mini students, four were cross-boundary students, and the rest were students residing in the school?s neighbourhood. Among the Grade 8s, six lived on the East Side, two lived outside the city of Vancouver, and the rest lived on the West Side. In contrast to East High, thus, we can see that more students come to West High as choice students. There is also a stronger presence of European Canadian students in both regular and mini programs at West High. Among the Grade 12s, 4 lived on the East Side, one lived outside the city of Vancouver, and the rest were West Side residents. There were few variations in terms of residential building types. Most students who took part in my study resided in single-family detached houses, although two of my Grade 12 participants with Asian backgrounds had to move from the West Side to central Vancouver to seek cheaper housing. In terms of occupations, European-Canadian students who lived on the West Side had parents with higher education levels and professional jobs in the city. In comparison, Asian-Canadian students                                                  57 I will discuss the significance of these differences in relation to school choice in Chapter 7.   126 living on the West Side, although their parents had comparable levels of higher education (i.e. university degrees), tended to have only their fathers working, and, in most cases, their fathers worked in international business. This racialized pattern of parental occupations was similar for students who lived on the East Side. European-Canadian students who lived on the East Side tended to have a set of parents who had higher education levels and worked in professional jobs. Asian-Canadian students who lived on the East Side, in contrast, tended to have parents who worked in manual or low-skill service sectors. I discuss how these class and racial background differences matter to school choice experiences in Chapter 7.  I chose (and also was granted permission to enter) these two schools mainly for their characteristics representative of the two distinctive neighbourhoods of Vancouver, which are largely divided by wealth, ethnicity/race, and education level. At the end of January, I visited all the Grade 12 and Grade 8 English classrooms. I pitched my study directly to students, hoping that they would come forward to participate. I used this method because I wanted to recruit students without relying on teachers too much.58 This strategy, however, resulted in a long wait; I conducted most of my interviews with Grade 8 and 12 students in the last three months of my fieldwork, from mid-March to mid-June of 2010.  One crucial revision I made during my study was that instead of interviewing students twice (at the beginning and end of the year), I conducted only one formal sit-down interview                                                  58 I was rather concerned that teachers would select the academically best or most well-behaved students to talk to an outside researcher because they would want to ensure that their schools were portrayed in the best possible light, especially at a time of growing school competition. I was somewhat concerned about the schools? efforts to keep their images intact or to be positively portrayed.    127 with each student while I had the chance to talk with students at different times and locations. This was due to my later entry into the school sites than I had originally planned, but I also interviewed twice as many students as I had initially planned as a direct result of my growing understanding of the intra-school choice dynamics between the mini schools and the main schools, an understanding I had gained while conducting an ethnographic study of school choice in the city. This change in the interview data collection was thus informed by my ongoing ethnographic fieldwork. Subsequently, I interviewed close to 60 students instead of the original 30. I am not suggesting here that more is better, but given that there were two regular schools, three choice programs at East High, and one mini school (with three distinct programs within the mini school) at West High, I was compelled to talk to more students than I had initially planned. I also interviewed more students on the West Side because there were more cross-boundary students there in addition to mini school students. This revision was made first due to my late entry to schools (January instead of September) and second because as I began to interview students, I learned the importance of exploring the unspoken tensions and divisions between regular and school choice students, as well as those who lived in the catchment areas and those who lived outside them. My interviews were semi-structured and lasted somewhere between 30 minutes and one hour. Interviews were conducted in the library, cafeteria, hallways, coffee shops, and student homes.  At each school, I observed Grade 8 and 12 English classes. I chose English because every student is required to take an English class and because it is highly streamed into different levels, including ESL, communications, regular, mini school, and Advanced Placement English. This hierarchical division aided my research in recruiting participants from different social, racial, and  128 transnational locations. My non-participant observation further provided an opportunity to meet students from diverse backgrounds, which in some cases led to recruiting them for my study.  4.2.4 Possibilities and limitations of my ethnographic policy research In addition to interviews and literature that allowed me to study the school choice phenomenon in Vancouver, conducting site-based ethnographic research turned out to be a powerful way to understand this policy phenomenon. For instance, through my immersion in the different operations of mundane everyday places, such as school cafeterias, at the two schools, I was able to comparatively observe class-differentiated patterns of student lunch cultures. At West High, students were customers at the school cafeteria, and I saw large groups of students leaving the school to purchase lunch during my fieldwork. At East High, in contrast, most students stayed at school, and some students performed food preparation and cleaning tasks. East High also offers a course on food preparation, and the students in that class were supervised when preparing and cooking meals for student customers and also helped clean up afterwards. My observations at each school provided a sociological landscape through which to compare student narratives from each school as class differentiated, although not all students at each school had the same class background. While students offered their own opinions and viewpoints on school choice and dynamics, often their opinions and stories were reflective of their backgrounds and how they were socially and spatially located. In other words, they may have had class-differentiated notions of what was normal and not normal and thus what was acceptable and not acceptable. As such, students of comparable social, spatial, and racial backgrounds tended to share similar responses, as my analysis in the data chapters shows.  129  More importantly, my presence in classrooms contributed to building a level of trust and personal relationships with students and teachers, which facilitated my recruitment of some key students and interview participants, as well as my rapport with them. While I conducted non-participant observation, I occasionally conversed with students and teachers. Some students shared their schoolwork, such as poetry journals, with me. I greeted them regularly when I visited their classrooms. I asked students questions about their schools and about miscellaneous topics before any of them took part in interviews. I was also able to bring up topics that had been discussed in the classroom and events that had taken place at school when I interviewed students. Our shared experiences in specific classrooms and in the broader school environment helped us build a common ground that we could both relate to and discuss, albeit briefly, during our interviews. My presence at the schools was also fruitful in helping me gain valuable opportunities to talk to teachers, staff, and students about school choice topics, as well as other interests that enlarged my understanding of the school choice phenomenon. This would not have been possible if I had conducted interviews with students only.  Nonetheless, at times, I found myself wondering what I should be taking note of. Clearly, I was not interested in simply describing everything that was unfolding in front of my eyes. This challenge was a bit overwhelming in the beginning, as I was new to the Vancouver school system and culture. I remember writing in my field notes about how that particular entry would eventually be tied to school choice policy analysis. Yet some significant patterns did emerge from being ?in the field? rather than simply conducting interviews with individual students or analyzing secondary literature at the university library. As Schensul et al. (1999) articulate, ethnography offers an effective way to grasp the ways in which people are organized and prioritized. My visits to schools helped me see how people relate to each other and how special  130 learner identities are created by specialized alternative programs that produce social, educational, and physical boundaries, defining and regulating participation in school events and activities in ways that are often hidden to outsiders. Ethnographic observations helped me to witness the social and educational divisions and hierarchies that exist under the cloak of choice.  4.3 Data description and analysis  As Wolcott (1994) notes, "[e]verything has the potential to be data, but nothing becomes data without the intervention of a researcher? (p. 3, original italics). In this process of data identification, I learned that the very act of identifying data was informed not only by what students emphasized but also in part by the ontological stance I took and the theoretical concepts of the imaginary and the imagination that I utilized, as discussed in Chapter 2. In the following section, I discuss my two analytical strategies: (1) a narrative-based social analysis and (2) a deductive approach using theoretical concepts and previous analyses.  4.3.1 Narrative-based social analysis  I conducted a narrative-based social analysis in order to identify and understand the multiple readings and readers of policy (Yanow, 2000). Following Yanow (2000), I tried to focus on how individual narratives reveal social settings and situations and how those conditions inform the students? meaning-making of school choice. As Roe (1994), a narrative policy analyst, notes, ?[s]ometimes what we are left to deal with are not the facts?that is why there is a controversy?but the different stories people tell as a way of articulating and making sense of the uncertainties and complexities that matter to them? (p.ix cited in Yanow, 2000, p. 59). The focus for me therefore was not so much about who was producing the ?true? definition, effects, and  131 meanings of policy; rather, my focus was on interpretations and practical reasoning as young people narrated their lived experiences of policy (Yanow, 2000).  I further compared why and how different participants in my study spoke to each other; in this comparative narrative analysis, I began to identify different meaning communities and began a type of ?category? analysis in a fluid sense. Worth noting is that I avoided fixing anyone based on their assigned ?categories? as a system of disciplining. Instead, I tried to reveal the students? backgrounds as narrated by each participant, with an attention to their particular biographies (McLeod & Yates, 2006). I thus put more emphasis on narratives than on categories in an effort to understand the associated complex social processes and milieu, as I noted earlier in the class-differentiated lunch cultures between the two schools. Nonetheless, in comparing different groups of students by residence, family history, race, and ethnicity, I could not completely avoid some reductionism in my analysis. By reductionism, I mean that I attempted to conduct a socially informed analysis rather than attributing narratives to individual psychology, idiosyncrasies, and relativism. Nonetheless, I have tried to highlight how traces of social and racial conditions and imaginaries are manifested in the accounts of seemingly individual experiences. Thus, I have emphasized that individuals do have different biographical trajectories across different social and racial contexts and histories. My analysis therefore attempts to show how individuals have different interpretations and imaginations based on their lived experiences rather than simply portraying them as mindless and/or docile subjects of the dominant imaginary. Comparing different narratives was thus useful in understanding the significance of different social, racial, and ethnic backgrounds (Yanow, 2000). This stage of data analysis was then an important step in going beyond simply describing what was said to try to identify patterns and provide explanations of why some articulate one meaning while others say something different,  132 and how these differences reflect the speakers? social, spatial, and racial locations and situatedness (Wolcott, 1994; Yanow, 2000).  4.3.2 Deductive approach: theoretical concepts and previous analyses I also used a deductive approach. This involved analyzing my data using both theoretical concepts and previous analyses and following the analytical approaches used by Berg (1995) and Wolcott (1994). I interpreted my data using key social theory concepts that seemed to become relevant after fieldwork as well as those that formed part of the initial theoretical framework that I developed in the early stage of the research (Wolcott, 1994). I used this analytic approach because I wanted to compare the trends in the data to the literature I had reviewed to further assess the novelty of findings against existing understanding and insights (Wolcott, 1994). Also, I tried not to repeat what had already been investigated in the existing international body of literature, which I describe in detail in Chapter 2. My choice to report certain themes rather than others was made based on the following two criteria. First, I considered whether particular themes and concepts were critical to an understanding of the local processes of school choice. Second, I chose themes and concepts that were under-studied and under-theorized in the field of school choice policy and thus needed further exploration. In this process, I asked myself, had I seen this somewhere in the literature? What did researchers say about that? How did they analyze it and interpret it? The analytic process was highly reiterative rather than linear (i.e., testing a fixed hypothesis set at the beginning of my study). As noted in the introduction, my research questions remained open-ended, and my analytic process was intended to illuminate areas that were absent from the current literature of school choice. As such, my early stages of data analysis tended to expose the familiar patterns of  133 school choice factors; thus, iterative data analysis was essential to activating my reflexivity, sparking insights, and developing deeper connections and analyses (Srivastava & Hopwood, 2009). This approach, I believe, has greatly helped me to gain an empirical understanding of school choice phenomenon.  4.3.3 Coding and analytic processes   In coding my data, I followed Sharan Merriam (1998) and Bruce Berg?s (1995) suggestions and Amanda Coffey and Paul Atkinson?s (1996) coding guidelines. I began with the identification of key ideas and themes across my interview data sets (Coffey & Atkinson, 1996). In assigning themes, I considered my research aims and questions. This technique was similar to Berg?s notion of open coding techniques: ?ask the data a specific and consistent set of questions? (1995, p. 186). I identified themes that seemed meaningful to the narrators (Berg, 1995). First, I coded my data descriptively using key phrases used by the interviewees, drawing upon a combination of in vivo, structural, and descriptive coding techniques (Saldana, 2009). I then went through my initial codes and grouped keywords and key phrases by subtopic and theme, which later generated major themes and concepts (Coffey & Atkinson, 1996) (see Appendix A).  My analysis was an iterative process that involved moving back and forth between what participants said and my own readings of the current political, social, and spatial contexts (Sipe & Ghiso, 2004) in which I was situated as the researcher.59 I read through policy documents before my interviews and non-participant observations at the Vancouver schools in order to understand the dominant as well as contested political contexts that are, in part, captured in Chapter 3. In other words, young people?s narratives were analyzed in the context of particular                                                  59 I did not conduct a critical discourse analysis of the policy or media texts themselves.  134 political and social events and changes as captured in policy and media documents. I further referenced media texts during and after I conducted interviews with students as they discussed changing urban spaces and schools.60 In this reiterative process, I formulated emergent themes in relation to a recursive reading of the theoretical concepts that held the most poignancy for this body of findings and attempted to generate new ideas and concepts through the process of analysing data (Coffey & Atkinson, 1996; Saldana, 2009; Sipe & Ghiso, 2004).  4.4 Conclusion  This chapter summarizes my qualitative methodological approach to understanding the school choice policy phenomenon within a broadly phenomenological perspective. In conducting an ethnographic study of school choice policy, my major methodological challenge was to capture and articulate how particular events and actions I observed during my research indicated and began to shed further light on the broader impact of the neoliberal educational policy of school choice. My aim in this chapter has been to show how an everyday practice, such as having lunch with one group or displaying different homework for mini students and regular students on the chalkboard, can be drawn upon to better understand the changing politics of neoliberalism in education. Further, using an interdisciplinary methodological approach, I argued for the importance of anthropological insights in understanding the cultural effects of marketization in creating new social boundaries, initiating a new economy of affectively charged friendship groups and peer relations, and constructing particular forms of youth identities that were, in many cases, further signs of class and race differentiation.                                                  60 In future studies, I will use the same codes and themes to analyze the interviews, field notes, and document data together. I think this will help produce a richer and fuller triangulation of the data sets.  135  It is my hope that the interdisciplinary framework used for my study may offer new directions in the study of school choice and other educational reforms. The current focus on parental choice and/or on student academic performance, as discussed extensively in my literature review, is deeply embedded in the cultural and political values and norms of critical policy studies, but it often fails to capture youth perspectives. Despite increasing ?student first? rhetoric in policy documents and in BC Legislative Assembly debates, young people are often irrelevant to choice policy debates. This is a reflection of the entrenched modernist deficit view of youth in the social and political arena. Children and youth are predominantly conceived as being free from social and political concerns, and it is understood that they should not feel responsible for democratic participation or decision-making (Lansdown, 1995). Furthermore, within the frame of the modern education system, childhood is often imagined as confined to the life of the classroom rather than connected to public and social spheres (Franklin, 1995), particularly policy.  These hegemonic notions of children, youth, and childhood partly account for why young people?s perspectives are mostly absent from the process of policymaking and policy research, including school choice. In this normative culture within society and research, current literature often falls short of providing a deeper understanding of the complexities and perplexities of choice experienced by young people. The methodological approach I developed in this work allowed me to undertake a study that can document student experience directly and chart how young people?s cultures and their understandings of their social positions in the present and future world are deeply connected to the ways in which they perceive and experience school choice policy. In the following three data chapters, I showcase how this research study has illuminated the wide impact of school choice on young people?s interpretations of themselves,  136 others, and their neighbourhoods, as well as their imagined worlds of friendship and schooling and their possibilities in the current reordering of the public education system in Vancouver.   137 Chapter  5:  Class distinction, the global imaginary, and symbolic domination  Students here [at West High] care, care more about school work. They are really rich and stuff.? Everyone in the West Side is super tall?. I learn more stuff here than if I went to Walnut High?. I want to go to universities in the US because there are more possibilities there. (Eva, Grade 8, mini, West High)  The image, the imagined, [and] the imaginary?these are all terms that direct us to something critical and new in global cultural processes: the imagination as a social practice?. The imagination has become an organized field of social practices, a form of work (in the sense of both labor and culturally organized practice), and a form of negotiation between sites of agency (individuals) and globally defined fields of possibility?. The imagination is now central to all forms of agency, is itself a social fact, and is the key component of the new global order. (Appadurai, 1996, p. 31, original italics)   This chapter focuses on the lived experiences of young people that inform both their meaning-making of school choice and their subsequent imagination of their futures in the increasingly unequal multicultural city of Vancouver. Currently, and as I noted in my literature review, it is problematic that there are few, if any, phenomenological studies of young people?s lived experiences of changing forms of educational choice policy and schooling. In an effort to fill this gap, this chapter explores the complexities of market processes as they affect the lived experiences of young people. I ask, what do young people from diverse backgrounds tell us  138 about the effects of new emerging market forces in the public secondary school system, and how do these accounts affect the way they imagine and understand their academic and social futures? I explore the following four themes: (1) the meanings young people attribute to school choice; (2) the impact school choice (especially the choice of mini schools) has had on young people?s schooling experiences; (3) how school choice has affected the ways in which young people think about their relational positions to others; and (4) how young people perceive the importance of school choice in ensuring their success. At the centre of this chapter is a critical analysis of the effects of public school choice on the ways in which youths from diverse social classes and racial and ethnic backgrounds experience their schooling and imagine their futures. I explore these themes comparatively, drawing upon student accounts at East High and West High.  In particular, I explore how school choice policy helps students obtain ?class distinction? through the acquisition of particular types of cultural and symbolic capital that facilitates the attainment of higher-class positions in an aspiring global city (Bourdieu, 1984, 1998b, 2006/1986). I focus specifically on class in this chapter in order to foreground its force on the local dynamics of school choice policy when examining how school choice, as an education market force, rearranges the classifications of individuals across the city, adding different values to students, regardless of their level of participation in school choice. The analytic primacy of class in this chapter is not colour blind; in fact, the following analysis is interwoven with a focus on the race and ethnic backgrounds of student participants. As mentioned earlier, in Vancouver, a majority of middle-class families have European-Canadian backgrounds, and a large number of working-class families are racial and ethnic minorities, although there is a growing influx of middle-class Asian immigrants. This approach further recognizes that racial and ethnic minorities have varying class backgrounds and are engaged in a class struggle in the increasingly  139 polarized city of Vancouver.61 Against this changing local context, I examine how young people?s relationships to school choice vary even as everyone is affected by the new educational arrangement of choice. My analysis demonstrates how the varied school choice participation of young people reflects and reproduces the class imaginary62 and its associated global imaginary63 in the neoliberal global city of Vancouver.  5.1 ?I want to go to university, not college?: the formation of elite identity  In this section, I discuss how school choice practice is perceived and practiced across classes as a means of academic distinction-making. Youths from both working- and middle-class families participate in school choice as a critical strategy to gain an advantage in university admissions. In this sense, current school choice practice can be considered an extension of earlier forms of academic streaming and tracking in Vancouver secondary schools. One key distinction to be aware of is the subtle (yet potentially far-reaching) differences between how local youths and transnationally located youths perceive the benefits of choosing schools, especially mini schools, in Vancouver. Transnational middle-class immigrant youths tend to perceive school                                                  61 I place greater analytic emphasis on race and ethnicity in the historical and present local context of Vancouver and Canada in Chapter 7. 62 The class imaginary refers to the social imaginary that is associated with specific groups of classes. This term refers to the norms around different behaviors and practices of classes, which may shape individual expectations and imaginations (Reay, 2007).   63 The global imaginary refers to one?s perspectives on his or her positions and future successes on the global stage, which inform and reflect local and present practices (Appadurai, 1996; Baas, 2010). Also, the global imaginary refers to one?s sense of belonging and positioning in different parts of the globe (Rizvi, 2005).   140 choice in the city as a step towards reaching the top universities worldwide, a viewpoint that puts additional pressure on ensuring their success in school choice. I discuss these differences in this chapter, but I first focus on young people raised in Vancouver.  The narratives of young people who have participated in school choice in Vancouver show that they were actively involved in the school choice process. They state that they deployed particular symbolic strategies that helped maintain and construct their academic distinction as somehow being ?smarter? or ?more able? than those who neither participated in school choice nor were successful at gaining admission into their schools of choice. For both middle-class youths and working-class youths with middle-class aspirations, school choice has become a critical way to signal, as well as produce, desirable distinctions as learner-performers under the current neoliberal restructuring of education in Vancouver. This is a common theme for all the students who participated in school choice, regardless of their class, racial, ethnic, and immigration backgrounds, residential locations, or school grade levels. In the following section, I present a representative sample of particular narratives that highlight the theme of the ways in which school choice goes about reaffirming, displaying, and maintaining academic smartness.  For instance, Grade 7 students from different class, geographical, and racial backgrounds perceived school choice as ?just for smart kids.? Mary is a Grade 7 student at a primary school on the East Side. She comes from a working-class immigrant family and told me that she had applied for a mini school because she perceived that mini students are academically smart.  Ee-Seul: Why did you apply [to a mini school]?  141 Mary: Expectations, my dad and stuff. My dad said, ?It?s okay if you don?t get in, but you should try? ? just to see what level I am. I don?t know. I wanted to get in, but I also didn?t want to because I want to do other stuff, too?. Ee-Seul: So how did your dad react when you didn?t get in? Mary: He said, ?Well, at least you made it to the waiting list. That?s still pretty good.? ? I know one girl who got into East High Mini, and she was smart; she always got good marks. Maybe because she did good on the test and stuff?. Ee-Seul: What do you think choosing a high school means? Why do you think people want to choose? Mary: I don?t really know for sure, but every year here, we take a test to see how much students learn here compared to [a West Side school] who is really high on the list. I think that?s why. Some parents think that students are doing really well there, so let?s just put our kids in that school and be smarter and go to university and stuff.  (Grade 7, East Vancouver resident)   Similarly, Kate, a Grade 7 student from a middle-class family, stated how her acceptance at a mini school would indicate that she is a smart person. It would also allow her to go to a school that is more conducive to individualized learning, where she would receive more attention than at a regular public school.  Kate: I thought I?d apply to those schools because I saw potential for me. I had to write papers?that was interesting. I learned about how to write a paper about myself?. Less people [in mini schools], [and teachers are] more focused on you, you get more attention,  142 you learn better at a school like that.? I mean, they [my friends and others] probably see me as a smarter kind of person since I am going to a mini school.  (Grade 7, Central Vancouver resident)   While the two narratives above are both from girls, these responses were not necessarily gender differentiated. Amadeus, a Grade 7 boy from a middle-class family in the gentrifying neighbourhood of central Vancouver, expressed a similar sentiment.  Ee-Seul: How do you feel about getting into a mini school? Amadeus: I feel really good. I made an accomplishment. I actually made it into mini school?. It?s a great accomplishment that I tried out. I find I am very confident. I did a good job. I feel good and I feel successful?. Ee-Seul: What do you think the mini school will help you achieve? Amadeus: If I do well in mini school, I will get a good place in university.... In general, I just want to go to university. (Grade 7, Central Vancouver resident)  A dominant theme that emerged from many Grade 7 students? narratives was that participating in school choice means being an academically smart student. Subsequently, admission to a mini school is likely to show that students are high achievers and will likely successfully reach university. This association between mini schools and future success persists in the higher grades.  143  Andy, a regular Grade 8 student at West High, further notes the importance of end-of-term letter grades on entering mini schools. He comes from a middle-class family and lives on the West Side; when I interviewed him, he was attempting to enter the mini school for Grade 9.64   Andy: I think I became more understanding of how important marks are.  Ee-Seul: How important? Andy: In elementary school, it was just a number. Who cares? But I realized that this number marks your future. To get into mini, you have to have this number?. (Grade 8, regular, West High, italics added)   During my fieldwork, it was interesting to note that mini students continued to work hard to maintain their academic distinction even after they had been accepted into mini schools. For instance, I often observed mini students doing homework together. When I observed a mini English class, almost all the students raised their hands to answer the teacher?s questions, which is in stark contrast to the case in regular classes (field note, March 3, 2010). When I asked the English teacher about how enthusiastic the students were, she affirmed that the mini students were different; they worked harder to achieve more than other students at the school (field note, March 3, 2010).  Both Amy (a Grade 12 mini student from a middle-class family who emigrated from Hong Kong) and Jennifer (a Grade 8 mini student at East High from a working-class Asian-                                                 64 Most students enter mini schools in Grade 8 but in some cases, when mini students drop out at the end of Grade 8, some schools invite their students to apply for Grade 9.   144 Canadian family) articulated how their learning attitudes have changed because of other students at school.  Amy: In Grade 8, all your classes were only with mini students. The only difference is that the average is so much higher. ?Cause to get into the mini school, you have to. You get more keen students?. I ask more of myself. When I was in Grade 8 in [mini school] classes ? people who were around me ? were so keen and eager to work. They were smart, too. So they gave me a lot of pressure that I have to ? work hard?. I am not like the top of my grade or anything. Academically, I try hard?. After I got in [to mini] ? this was so much better. If you had a choice between Harvard and UBC, which one would you choose?  (Grade 12, mini, West High)   Likewise, Jennifer, a Grade 8 mini student at East High from a working-class family, noted how the pressure to work hard during her first year of secondary school was intense.  Jennifer: Because my cousin told me that it [the mini school] was good for university. You get higher education. I like challenge. So, yeah, you get medals and you get credit for it, too. Ee-Seul: What are they good for? Jennifer: Physical exercise, and credit for the future! I went to the mini info night. My parents were there. They said, ?Jennifer, go to this one. It?s good. Good for your future, future, future.?? I was really, really excited but was nervous at the same time. I didn?t  145 know if I could keep the grades up to the [mini school] standards?B average in [mini school] subjects, which are advanced. I am working harder. You feel the need to outdo yourself constantly. [The mini school] is very competitive because everyone is smart. You want to outdo other people, but also outdo yourself.... Out of mini school, there is more drama. I have regular friends, too, and they tell me all this drama, but the mini school is a sort of bubble. When you go in the bubble, there is less drama?. ?Cause you know friends gossip about each other, but the minis have a lot of classes together so they are more tight.? Even at lunch, we discuss homework.  (Grade 8, mini, East High, italics added)  In other words, mini students are more focused on grades, and school choice policy has created more pressure to work hard to perform better than regular students. Good grades are then clearly linked to how students experience their schooling under school choice policy and how school choice, particularly the choice of mini schools, shapes their schooling experiences. As Jennifer and Amy noted above, echoing other mini students I interviewed, they felt added pressure to perform and compete under the cohort model of mini schools (Yoon, 2011). While the cohort learning model can help create a learning community, what is clear from these two narratives is that the model also generates peer rivalry and pressures that shape certain types of academic competency, conduct, behaviour, and competition, which fit with the middle-class imaginary of education and success. The current choice model generates greater pressure to perform academically (i.e., getting good marks) because the grades produce students? academic distinctiveness.  146  With the Grade 12 students, one thing I observed about the minis? distinction making pattern is that the differences between mini students and regular students had slightly subsided, especially at West High, where a majority of students go on to university or college. This is partly because more students take Grade 12 electives in diverse subjects, and high-achieving, university-applying regular students often take advanced placement courses alongside mini students in subjects such as English. Nonetheless, choice students continue to maintain their focus on producing the academic distinction of smartness. As noted by Owen and Yvonne, Grade 12 mini students at West High and East High, respectively, mini schools are geared towards producing students who will remain academically smart and studious.  Owen: The regular kids were slightly less academic. Minis are really academically focused?. They do what they have to do to get an A kind of thing. They would do their work, they are passionate about it, but they certainly do also, going for marks and grades, focus on school.    (Grade 12, mini, West High)  Yvonne: It [mini school] pushes them to work a lot harder?. They must be smarter. They must be like this. There is a kind of mold?. The child [in a mini school] lives up to that or they want to be like that. The world thinks I am smart. Actually I am. I must fit into this program. (Grade 12, mini, East High)   147  Throughout all grades, then, students in mini schools (and outside, as I discuss below) tend to see that mini schools are about, above all, creating academic distinction through good grades. This impression exists even though the Vancouver School Board emphasizes how mini schools focus on adding alternative education to comprehensive public school programs (Vancouver School Board, 2010, 2012a, 2012b). It does not seek to report how other schools that do not have mini schools are affected, of course, so we do not actually witness in real time the inequality being created. It is, in many ways, hidden through a language of meritocracy and excellence. For example, good grades carry weighty symbolic meaning for mini students who seek and indeed struggle to obtain academic distinctions that set them apart from regular students. Alice, who stopped attending a mini school after the first year, notes the high academic pressure that the mini programs place on students:  Alice: It was in December when I first started speaking, okay, if this was really the best choice. Some days I loved it. Some other days I was like, this is so much work. Oh my god. What am I doing? So, I was always wondering, what if I went to East High with my friends? Or what if I did French or something else? You know ? I really enjoyed the experience of it, but it wasn?t something I wanted to continue doing for the next five years or however long. It was just too much. I?ve talked to people who were in the IB program, and they were always tired. They have no, hardly any social time, right?? Ee-Seul: Did a lot of people drop out of the mini school at [Birch High] after the first year? Alice: Two others, excluding myself. They were not coming back for the next year.  (Grade 8, regular, East High)  148   Similarly, Jennifer, introduced above, states that the mini school has presented her with time management challenges, and the work causes her to feel tired and overwhelmed.   Jennifer: [The mini school] is very competitive because everyone is smart. You want to outdo other people, but also outdo yourself.? Ee-Seul: When do you feel that this [mini school] is too much? Jennifer: When I have other activities outside the school, they pile up. Then you have to prioritize everything. I want to go sleep and not do anything for a little while?. I work harder than I did before?. My parents think I need to work harder. Push; go, go?. Also teachers put more pressure on mini students. You are minis, so you should behave like this ? quiet, polite, put your hand up for everything. (Grade 8, mini, East High)  These student struggles are reflective of the consequences of striving for an increasingly competitive post-secondary education, which is a must-have form of capital for those who aspire to achieve or maintain middle-class positions and lifestyles.  Here, then, I argue that Bourdieu?s (1984, 1998b, 2006/1986) theory of class, distinction, and education helps explain how class advantage shapes the reorganization of distinction in a particular field and ensures the social reproductive function of school choice as it operates in Vancouver. Mini students? academic performance and habits signal their class positions and aspirations, which are further recognized in the localized class hierarchy. Enabled by the current choice system in Vancouver, mini students ?distinguish themselves by the distinctions they  149 make? (Bourdieu, 1984, p. 6). In Chapter 7, I further discuss how these distinctions are then further conflated with particular racial ?traits? in a city struggling with racial tensions and high levels of border anxiety (See Balibar, 1998; Rumford, 2006, 2008). Worth noting is that through this hierarchical cohort model of learning and separated classroom practices, mini school practices contribute to the formation of a habitus??the inherited, experienced and lived sense of cultural milieu and capital, forging the unconscious unity of a class? (Bourdieu, 1984, p. 80)?in the globalizing city of Vancouver.  5.2 The global imaginary: becoming global elites through school choice  One notable distinction of youths from transnational65 middle-class families, especially those with high educational values and capital, is that their futures are much more globally rather than locally oriented. They also come across as more ambitious than their more locally and nationally bounded counterparts. School choice in Vancouver is a key strategy for these middle-class immigrant families and their children to become global elites by attending some of the highest-performing schools in British Columbia. The following narratives show how choice students from middle-class immigrant backgrounds who are racial and ethnic minorities within the nation of Canada consider their local school choice participation a necessary form of preparation to ensure their success on the global stage. In other words, transnational, middle-class families and young people have globally broader future outlooks than their local                                                  65 By transnational, I mean that individuals acquire and utilize various forms of capital (including education) in different parts of the world in order to maintain and advance their social positions in particular local contexts (Waters, 2006).  150 counterparts.66 As I explore in the next section, these emerging elites have moved through the structures of class advantage and are beginning to view themselves as mobile capital.  Eva, who I quoted at the beginning of this chapter, is a good example of an East Side youth who travelled to West High with the aspiration of attending university in the US. While Eva wishes to go abroad, her dreams are also reflective of her parents? desires, especially her mother?s strong desire for social mobility in the global era. Eva?s mother used to work with computers in China before immigrating to Canada, but she now works as a housekeeper in a downtown hotel, which is clearly an experience of occupational, economic, and social demotion. Eva believes that her educational success is quite important to her parents as well. She wishes to go to the US, where she can be even more successful. She in fact notes how she was the only student who came to West High from her elementary school on the East Side, and that her participation in school choice illustrates her strong desire to go abroad and attend a globally competitive university.   Beth, a Grade 8 student from a middle-class family in the gentrifying East Side, also articulates similar global ambitions. Her father has a graduate degree from a ?world-class? university outside his home country. She aspires to do the same and leave her home country of Canada to go somewhere more globally prestigious. She believes that mini school will take her one step closer to that dream.                                                   66 The global outlooks of transnational, middle-class young people may be influenced by their family connections in two countries, but they may also be connected to the ambivalent sense of belonging and disorientation that they experience in Canada, which will be further discussed in Chapter 7.   151 Beth: ?Cause West High is really well known, I went onto this website. I forgot which school was the first, but West High67 was the second in the whole Vancouver, the Greater Vancouver area, [showing] which school is the highest in quality and stuff like that. West High was the top, quite far in the top. I saw that, and when you think about university, I don?t really want to go to college. I want to go to university. I probably would go out of Canada. There are a couple I really liked, a couple in the States, and in London.? You have a better chance of getting into university ?cause of the mini school, right?? (Grade 8, mini, West High)   Similarly, Beverly, a Grade 8 mini student at West High, states that a mini school can offer a brighter academic future at world-renowned universities.  Beverly: They [my parents] say do higher, enriched stuff [i.e. mini schools]. They want me to do enriched stuff, extra and stuff. They tell me do what I want to do, but also work hard. We always talk about our futures and stuff. And we talk about how we can improve and stuff, like what universities are looking for, and they do want me to go to university and I want to go, too. I am thinking about universities in the States, like Stanford, Harvard, and just more of those doctor and lawyer type of universities?. I see myself as a really hard-working student?. Sometimes I don?t do very well, but I try, try to change from that, learn from mistakes.  Ee-Seul: What do you have to do to stay an A student?                                                  67 In the last few years, the top-ranked school in Vancouver has been a private school. West High has been ranked as one of the ?best? schools within the public system.   152 Beverly: ? Do what you need to do and do it properly kind of, ?cause I have dance every day till really late, almost every day, so I have to be really good with time management. Ee-Seul: Is that [dance] something you want to do in the future? Beverly: I am not quite sure but it?s gonna look good on my resume, and it?s good to have skills. Everybody has sports and stuff, and so that [dance] can maintain posture and flexibility. And performance on stage can build confidence and stuff.  (Grade 8, mini, West High)   Beverly, the daughter of middle-class immigrant parents from Hong Kong who came to Canada in search of ?world-class? education, has high ambitions to study at an Ivy League university in the United States. Beverly is aware that taking private dance lessons will make her stand out both physically (i.e., posture) and symbolically (i.e., dance as a symbol of high-class culture) when applying to colleges. Her parents? focus, as well as her own focus, on grades and certain behaviours is indicative of success in today?s competitive elite education admissions.  Like many middle-class, Asian immigrant parents I met, Beverly?s parents possess high educational capital. Her mother was born in Hong Kong and has a master?s degree from the US; she assists her husband with his small business and dedicates most of her energy and time as a stay-at-home mother to ensure that Beverly and her sister are academically successful. They moved to Canada68 largely to ensure that their children would receive the best ?world-class? education. While Beverly?s parents may have limited linguistic and Canadian cultural capital, they wish to ensure their daughter?s success in the global field of higher education by drawing on                                                  68 In 1993?1994, almost 16,000 immigrants arrived in Vancouver from Hong Kong (Waters, 2006).   153 their abundant globally recognized economic and cultural capital. These accounts, then, echo Ong?s (1999) earlier study, which describes the significance of a ?Western university degree,? especially in an Asian context. Migration to Canada enables Hong Kong middle-class families and their children to accumulate a more valuable form of cultural capital in a Canadian (i.e., Western) university degree, which is likely to result in advancing their class positions, especially when they return to Hong Kong. Waters? (2006) research into the relationship between educational choice, class, and international mobility amongst Hong Kong migrants in Vancouver indeed reports that when Hong Kong migrants, after attaining post-secondary education in Vancouver, return to their country of origin, they secure lucrative jobs in the sectors of marketing, insurance, human resources, and public relations.  In casual conversations with a few parents, during school interviews at West High, some parents told me that Vancouver schools are good places to build their children?s resumes so they can apply to Ivy League schools in the US (field note, February 2, 2010). Reflective of these sentiments, the students I encountered at West High had a high level of global aspiration for their educational futures and achievement. Students studying at West High are proud to be in the ?top? echelon of local schools, especially those in the mini schools. Students who come to West High as mini students often imagine that world-class universities are within their reach. As Lola, a West High Grade 12 cross-boundary student, from a low-income, immigrant family, notes, West High has been connected to Harvard in the local educational landscape.  Lola: Good things are associated with West High, like Harvard. (Grade 12, cross-boundary, West High)   154 While this high level of global aspirations and ambition was prevalent among those in the earlier grades, it had become a reality for some Grade 12 students at West High. One of my Grade 12 study participants, Sandra, was in fact accepted into a top US university during my study period. Originally from South Korea, Sandra?s family immigrated to Canada for education. She also came to West High Mini by choice in order to be admitted to a globally competitive university. Examples of students like Sandra appear to fuel the dreams of those in lower grades, who imagine attending top universities someday.  It is interesting to note how local school choice policy binds together the current practices of global mobility and local educational choice, what some globalization theorists refer to as ?glocal.? Business-class immigrant families, from which many of the middle-class immigrant learners in this study come, seemed to have few spatial attachments to their neighbourhoods, as the parents did not attend local schools. They had little personal history in their neighbourhoods and few social networks. Consequently, these families were ?freer,? ?more liquid,? and ?disembedded? from their local communities and could thus move to popular schools in any neighbourhood (Bauman, 1998). In other words, not only was choice changing how young people, especially mini students at West High, began to imagine their futures and their elite capital, so too did the very neighbourhoods in which these schools were located. As increasing numbers of immigrants arrive and settle in ethnic neighbourhoods in Vancouver?the number of Chinese immigrants, especially from mainland China, is approximately 10,000 a year?the neighbourhood public schools (see Figure 3.1) are ethnically divided and therefore imagined as potentially problematic and fragmented, rather than as inclusive educational sites (Guo & DeVoretz, 2006; Keung, 2004; Todd, Feb 25, 2011).  155  The ambitions and imaginations described above clearly reflect, in part, the visions of mini schools. As I learned during my information evening visits, most school choice options expand the provincial curriculum, have a global focus, and try to build into their programs the idea of carrying global status (field note, November 20, 2009). During my fieldwork at information evenings, I often heard comments about how the provincial curriculum has been ?watered down,? is ?mediocre,? or fails to offer students a ?globally competitive edge? (field note, December 1, 2009). Hence, many Vancouver choice programs emphasize their global connections and competitiveness. One of these programs is the International Baccalaureate, which is challenging and grants globally recognized credentials in addition to provincial credentials. Many of those who graduate from mini schools attend Canadian universities, but because of the IB program?s international recognition, it often attracts those who aspire to study abroad, similar to those studied by Doherty, Mu, and Shield (2009) in Australia.  In fact, Margaret and Ralph, the only two Grade 7 students I studied who attended private schools at the time of their interviews, had considered attending IB mini schools (at public schools) even though they were not at all interested in attending regular public schools. Also, other mini programs, such as Vancouver?s University Transition program, often publicize their graduates? successes and achievements (such as leadership positions and business success) on the global scene.69 The Vancouver School District news section often includes success stories of exemplary students who achieve global acclaim.  Furthermore, the high level of global aspirations at West High was evident in mini school field trips, which, during my study period, were planned for London and Paris. The plan for these trips included visits to world-renowned museums, concert halls, and historical buildings such as                                                  69 See:  156 cathedrals. The students who go on these trips, and also those who see the posters around their schools, are more likely to imagine these places and perhaps consider going there someday. In this globally high-achieving school climate, West High students tended to imagine their future possibilities in global economic and educational landscapes. Student phenomenology (i.e., meaning-making based on lived experiences) is ?never simply the intuitive possession of a subject? or an individual learner but rather is mediated through ?signs and symbols of our intersubjective existence? that constitute our educational institutions, programs, and extra-curricular activities, which reflect the values and ideals of culture and society (Kearney, 2004, p. 42; Ricoeur, 1967).   In this regard, that of a school culture that imbues students with global ambitions, East High and West High notably differ. While East High?s mini school has a global connection through its internationally recognized awards program, it was rare for East High students to make direct links to top universities around the world. Reflective largely of their families? social backgrounds and low-income immigrant status, East High students, even those who were considered academically smart (e.g., mini students), rarely discussed attending any universities outside Canada or even any outside the Metro Vancouver area.70 In fact, at the time of this study, many had received early admission to a local university in central Metro Vancouver, and they expressed their interest in accepting the offer rather than waiting for admission to the highly ranked, research-intensive university on the West Side of Vancouver. The top Canadian (that is, outside BC), US, and UK universities were notably absent from their imagined futures.  This contrast becomes more interesting when examining the immigration patterns and narratives of West High and East High students. Many East Side students do come from families                                                  70 Metro Vancouver includes the city of Vancouver and 21 of the municipalities surrounding the city.  157 with global migratory experiences; their immigration backgrounds thus may have exposed them to a broader view of the world. For instance, Yvonne is a Grade 12 East High Mini student whose parents traveled from China to Venezuela, then to Canada. Yet her family?s migration was motivated by a search for manual work (i.e., farming). Her parents are fluent in both English and Spanish, yet they currently work in the manual sector at minimum-wage jobs. Yvonne, like many others at East High, did not mention the names of any universities outside Canada as potential institutions to apply to. One exception was Kathleen, who came to East High when she was in Grade 12, and whose mother has a PhD. This comparison demonstrates the importance of paying attention to family class differences in addition to immigration histories in order to understand the global imaginary. While middle- and upper-middle-class families imagine their futures by travelling to another country in an effort to see their children move forward, working-class families move to earn a living. In this sense, choice is reorganizing the neighbourhood and individual understandings of potentially elite or non-elite identities. We thus witness social reproduction at both a local and a global level.  In fact, Kathleen pointed this out to me quite explicitly during our interview. After she transferred to East High in Grade 12 from an elite secondary school at the US university where her mother received her PhD, she noted how East High students were ?less ambitious? about university, and stated,  Kathleen: Yesterday, I actually talked to some of the friends from back home. They seem so?oh, yeah, I am going to go to university here. We?ve applied to this, this, this, that. I am just like, hmm, have I changed? You mirror what your environment is. So it  158 might be because not many people here are motivated to do stuff [i.e., applying to university] around here. I am not really motivated.  (Grade 12, regular, East High)  Further, she noted that her current economic challenges prevented her from focusing solely on school work. Because her mother was unemployed, she had to earn money (i.e., by working part-time for 20 hours per week) to help out financially. Their move to a low-income Vancouver neighbourhood was indicative of their financial situation.  When I visited Grade 12 English classrooms with counsellors at East High and West High, I made a note of how the West High counsellor emphasized the deadlines for early admission at UBC, which often accepts exceptionally high-achieving students. The counsellor encouraged students to apply early and to make sure that they met the deadline. In contrast, the East High counsellor did not mention early admission, although she did mention that university and college admission deadlines were approaching. Furthermore, when we went to the low-level English class, she did not mention university or college admissions at all (field note, January 26, 2010).  A majority of East High students whom I interviewed came from families with a history of labour-related migration (as opposed to business-class immigrants with cosmopolitan aspirations and imaginaries). As such, their families were not engaged with the global elite or with professional groups but were instead employed by local businesses, primarily in the manual labour or service sectors. Students at East High seldom brought up the names of top world universities, such as Harvard or Stanford, during our interviews. Also, at East High, I noted that  159 the mini school took students on local or domestic field trips and/or camping excursions rather than making overseas trips.   To reflect the comparatively different presence of global ambitions in these two local secondary schools, I use the term ?global imaginary? to describe the ways young people from diverse backgrounds imagine different parts of the globe and more importantly how young people relate to each other, how they ?fit together with others,? and where they fit on a global scale (Rizvi & Lingard, 2010; Taylor, 2004, p. 23; Appadurai, 1996). Clearly, a pattern for middle-class, immigrant young people who participate in school choice is that they aspire to become global elites. Their future horizons are therefore broad in scope. The different levels of aspiration further seem to be influenced by socio-economic class. This finding also echoes others? research on a globalized and rapidly globalizing society (Rizvi, 2005). My study thus sheds some light on how imagined and real education market practices facilitated class formation in a particular local context, which is further substantiated in the next section.  5.3 Streaming: symbolic domination  In this section, I further highlight the role that school choice plays in generating a sense of demotion for those outside the mini schools, thus producing ?symbolic domination? (Bourdieu, 1998a). Under school choice policy, those who experience a relative devaluation of their abilities and achievements adopt the institutional and dominant view of themselves as ?mediocre? or ?low achieving? (Bourdieu, 1998a). I focus on the meanings, experiences, and effects of school choice on schooling and relationships from resident students? (i.e., those who enrol in their assigned neighbourhood schools) perspectives. By resident students, I am referring to those who are not enrolled in highly selective programs of choice. This is not a homogenous  160 group but is instead made up of many groups of students who have a varied range of participation in school choice, from those who did not participate at all to those who made it onto the waiting list but were not successful at admission.  First, I focus on those who identify as members of socially marginalized groups. In contrast to the previously mentioned choice students with middle-class resources, cultural capital, and aspirations, who envisioned an expanded horizon of global possibilities in their participation in school choice, those who come from socio-economically marginalized backgrounds appear to experience what Dillabough and Kennelly (2010) call ?caged resentment? (p. 6). While mini students enjoy the consumption of the global imaginary and global tourism as cultural goods (e.g., global field trips) and become the beneficiaries of neoliberal globalization, these opportunities are often unavailable and/or beyond the reach of those who remain in regular programs, and these students often experience a relative demotion in new educational streaming under the rhetoric of choice. I discuss the processes and experiences of symbolic domination in the choice system in the following section.  For East Side students, social and spatial comforts and a sense of belonging are important school choice criteria. This indicates that their bodily knowledge and responses to each school and neighbourhood emerge from deep ?structures of feeling? (Williams, 1961) that are experienced and accumulated as a result of living in a particular local context with a particular history for a certain period of time (Dillabough & Kennelly, 2010; Nayak, 2003; Williams, 1961). A sense of belonging, that is, ?identifying with that place? as a result and process of ?making sense of place,? is critical to young people?s school choice (Leach, 2005, p. 308). The narratives of many of the resident students whom I interviewed at East High were similar to the one offered by Timothy, an East High Grade 12 regular student who lived in social housing with  161 his single mother. For Timothy and many others, school choice appears to present a certain kind of risk that students do not want to take, rather than a symbol of success.71  Timothy: When it came time to pick the high school, it was almost, in my mind, it was not a big decision, but it was something I wanted to get over with ? which was the closest or seemed more comfortable ? go with friends, and resume someplace I have some foundations?. When I had a chance to pick a high school with my friend ? for me, it was a comfort feeling?. When I?m out of my comfort zone, I feel really vulnerable. Ee-Seul: What do you mean by your comfort zone? Timothy: It?s about being within a radius of something I know, a distance from people I know, and things I bond with, and where I still feel safe. (Grade 12, regular, East High)   Similarly, Tilda, an East High Grade 12 student from a working-class immigrant family, noted the importance of comfort as well:    Tilda: The West Side is more higher status and richer. Everything there, um, more intelligent. They are pretty much better at everything. I am not sure about it but that?s what I heard. Ee-Seul: Have you thought about going to a school on the West Side?                                                  71 Those at West High also feel that choosing a school on the East Side is risky, but for different reasons. I discuss this in the next chapter.   162 Tilda: No, because I am comfortable being here. I want to be in a place where, I think because I grew up here so long, I am used to it?. I am just comfortable. (Grade 12, regular, East High)   Ted, a Grade 8 student, similarly notes how his decision to remain in his assigned regular public secondary school had to do with being with friends in addition to other factors and constraints, such as distance. This was particularly evident in the remarks he made about why he would not consider any options other than attending a regular neighbourhood public school.  Ee-Seul: Can you see yourself going to a school on the West Side? Ted: No. It?s far away. I have to take public transit. It will take about a good 40 minutes. It?s really complicated. And I will miss my old friends.  (Grade 8, regular, East High)   These students, like many other resident students, suggested that the schools they ended up attending were ones where they felt comfortable, where they had friends, and where they had some social and spatial foundations, whether real or imagined. They felt secure in these areas. For these young people, their choice activities were quite informal, implicit, and tacit when compared to those who went through the formal system of school choice selection (e.g., attending information evenings, taking notes, asking questions, and meeting prospective teachers and schoolmates). These differences in approach reflect the symbolic elements of their inherited forms of practical reasoning as a regulative function of their class advantages or limitations as relates back to family life or habitus, as Bourdieu (1992) notes. In many cases, it seemed as  163 though students who stayed at their neighbourhood schools or attended feeder secondary schools were trying to achieve an important sense of ?foundation? and ?roots? that would provide the kind of protection that comes with group membership (Cohen, 1999; Dillabough & Kennelly, 2010). Perhaps there is also a degree of insecurity and fear associated with living in a place that, even if it is demonized in particular ways, remains in its most immediate sense a knowable place?a place where students will be not misrecognized. As Bourdieu (1999) and Skeggs (2004) argue, ?being out of place? is a case of misrecognition, where appearing to be from ?somewhere else? creates a class conflict and heightened insecurities.  The importance of comfort is not necessarily restricted to low-income youths. Comfort is also important for middle-class resident students: the West High regular students who live in the neighbourhoods surrounding West High. They expressed a similar sense of comfort about staying near where they grew up and especially about being safe. As such, some were not even willing to attend another West Side school. Madeline is a Grade 8 student at West High, and she points out that both physical and social distance kept her from choosing a non-neighbourhood school, especially a school on the East Side.    Ee-Seul: Did you think about any other secondary schools? Madeline: No ? not really. I like a big high school, and Willow High is actually bigger than West High, but it?s far away and I didn?t know anyone. So there is no point?. Ee-Seul: Can you see yourself going to an East Side school, like East High? Madeline: Not really?. It?s just too far away ? and, at an East Side school, I actually have to say I would not feel safe. Ee-Seul: Why is that?  164 Madeline: It?s because it?s East Side?. There is a lot of drugs there. Apparently, there is a lot of drugs at Willow High, too. (Grade 8, regular, West High)  While there are some challenges associated with the search for social belonging for those who live on the West Side72, the notable difference between the East Side and West Side youths seemed to be that the West Side youths could stay in their neighbourhoods and feel ?proud? of the status they carried by attending their neighbourhood schools.  Resident students do not explicitly say that they are excluded from school choice. Quite on the contrary, many reply that their choice was reflective of their values regarding friendship and a sense of spatial belonging. A number of students, similar to those cited below, expressed that school choice policy tends to comparatively devalue and hence demote them in the current education structure. They experience a sense of alienation and social separation resulting from choice programs that operate as a form of academic separation. In other words, they do not see school choice as promoting alternative learning styles and focus. Instead, many see school choice as providing academic and social privileges to those who enrol in specialized programs, which results in the relative demotion of students in regular or rehabilitative programs.  Negative and devaluating experiences of schooling, as narrated below, indicate that the current school choice system generates unique and localized forms of symbolic domination as a result of choice as it seeks to artificially define active choosers as high achievers while those who are in the regular program are identified as passive subjects, ?underachievers? or ?hopeless                                                  72 This is especially the case for students from immigrant families (e.g., Bob, Hailey, Tiffany). I discuss this issue in Chapter 7.  165 cases? to use Gillborn and Youdell?s wording (2000, p. 134). Coming from a working-class, Aboriginal and white mixed-race family background, Timothy notes that the labelling and grouping practice of the mini students as smart learners has made him feel relatively invisible, marginalized, and thus devalued.  Timothy: They have mini school for those kids that ? pick up things a little faster. They are the top of the class kind of kids. I was never one of those kids. I was always referred to as?they referred to me as not so much top of the class?. Back then I hated that. I hated that they look at you. They try to make themselves look better than you because they did this and they did that  (Grade 12, alternative program, East High).  Those who are placed in regular programs or negatively perceived alternative programs are relatively demoted for their lack of symbolic capital, which is abundant among students who go to choice schools, go on field trips abroad, and thus equip themselves with more cultural capital that advances their positions in the global city and economy.  Likewise, Maya, a Grade 8 student in an alternative program,73 who comes from a working-class family of Chinese immigrants, indicates how her experiences with mini students have been socially intimidating. She notes that she was being negatively perceived by others because of her placement in an alternative program clearly designed to accommodate her learning but which has lower status than regular and mini programs.                                                  73 This alternative program is offered to a small number of students who struggle academically during Grade 7, and are recommended for the program by their teachers.  166  Maya: In my gym, there are a ton of them [mini students]. They can be really mean. Ee-Seul: What do you mean? Maya: In the beginning, when you don?t know anyone, just you, all scared, they were really intimidating. They are all smart. They are always on the [same] floor, all their classes on the [same] floor except for Art and Gym and Skill thing?.When I tell people that I am in the [alternative] program, they think I am dumber.  (Grade 8, alternative program, East High).  Here, we can sense a new type of fear and apprehension that develops within students based on the type of academic programs they are enrolled in and their perceived sense of academic superiority or inferiority.  Additionally, Jake, a Grade 12 student from a working-class, mixed Aboriginal and European-Canadian family, perceives a new kind of superiority displayed by mini school students. He identifies how academic divisions and streaming creates tension between mini and regular students.  Jake: There is sometimes friction [between regulars and minis]. People rub off against each other. A lot of minis think they are better. I don?t know why that is.? They are exactly the same except that their parents can dish out more money. (Grade 12, Birch High74)                                                   74 Jake is a former West High student. Birch High is a pseudonym.   167 During the interview, Jake went on to say how mini schools create symbolic divisions between those who belong and those who do not, creating social boundaries between those who are friends and not friends.  The feeling that regular and mini students receive different treatment is similarly expressed by middle-class white Canadian youths who believe they are subjected to differential treatment. Michelle, a cross-boundary West High Grade 12 student, notes how she feels bitter about the hierarchy between mini and regular schools. This experience over her five years of secondary schooling has been emotionally detrimental and academically discouraging.  Michelle: Things that they do in the mini school English are more advanced. Their assignments and stuff are more, like, dynamic. They do things that really make you think and stuff. I wish my English class got to do cool stuff like that. Sometimes, I feel that people think they [mini school students] are smarter, so they put more to them. They expect more from them. Well, I could do that if they expect more from me and the rest of regular kids?. The general consensus of the main school is that the mini school gets more funding, get to do more this, get to go to more field trips. Sort of like, why we don?t get that kind of feeling. I think there is a bitter resentment to it, on the whole, from the regular kids to the mini school kids. I think it?s more of negative thing. (Grade 12, cross-boundary, West High)   The remarks from resident and regular students from different class positions therefore reveal that being in the regular secondary school is academically demoting because more opportunities are given to mini students. Confronted with this experience, young people  168 understand the long-term consequences of stratified schools for their socio-economic futures in a neoliberal society. This form of classifying that the system has created ultimately functions as a form of wider social divisions, and young people must carry the burden of these divisions. This burden is reflected and embodied in their accounts of being perceived as less able, less wealthy, less worthy, and ultimately less important to the wider society as a whole.   The new type of streaming under school choice policy also has a direct consequence for the ways by which young people imagine and negotiate their learner identities and future directions. Albert, a regular West High Grade 8 student from a lower-middle-class Asian immigrant family, was only in his first year of secondary school when I interviewed him, yet he already seemed to think of himself as a particular type of learner, set on a certain educational pathway with particular social consequences. He classified himself relationally and oppositionally to mini school students, with comments that echoed Paul Willis? (1981) study of English working-class youths.  Albert: I am not smart and not hard-working enough to be in mini school?. Mini school people are hard-working, do not care so much about socializing, but care about academic skills and marks. ? Ee-Seul: What do you want to do after graduating? Albert: They [my parents] want me to work hard and go to university, so I have more choices ? just not UBC. I am not good enough to get into UBC. Ee-Seul: Why is that? Albert: I am just not that smart. I don?t work that hard. I am lazy. I don?t study hard enough to get really good marks on the test to get into UBC.  169  (Grade 8, regular, West High)   It is striking to note how this Grade 8 student can carry with him such firm ideas about his skills, his style, and to which university he can apply. Yet young people?s perceptions of the widely permeating effects of school choice affect more than simply their academic futures. Most resident students I interviewed recognized how their regular Dogwood (BC high school diplomas) would be undervalued in relation to the mini school diplomas. Indeed, they were concerned about how the social and economic consequences of having a devalued high school education might affect their futures.  Lola, a cross-boundary West High Grade 12 student from a working-class, immigrant family on the East Side, notes how her credentials seemed to be less valued, and she would thus have fewer scholarship opportunities in her future.  Ee-Seul: What do you think about mini programs? Lola: People should definitely go for it because it looks good on your academic record. If you graduate from the regular school, you can write so much about it. For scholarships and applications, I regret not applying to mini schools. There is me and people from mini schools. They can say so much about mini schools. It looks a lot better?. I wish I did.  (Grade 12, cross-boundary, West High)   Likewise, coming from a working-class mixed-race background and living in social housing with a single mother on welfare, Sylvia noted that mini school status is likely to have economic benefits in the future.  170  Sylvia: Well, I suppose if you go to mini school, and it?s meant for really high-grade people, if you are trying to get a job or go to school [university], they are going to see mini school. They are going to think higher of you, just that much higher of you. (Grade 12, regular, East High)  During the interview, Sylvia also mentioned how she noted that mini students often go on fieldtrips. Had she known this, she would have applied to a mini school. This further shows how school choice is often not very well understood by young people, leaving them wondering why they are not given the same kind of learning and schooling opportunities as mini students. Students like Sylvia feel that their regular education is not as good as what choice students get in the public system, and ultimately, they would be further disadvantaged in the job market.  From these narratives, we can catch a glimpse of how the exchange-value model of the education market excludes and devalues certain young people while adding value to those who strategically take up middle-class positions in current societal and educational structures (Skeggs, 2004). School structures, processes, and activities create and regulate certain learner and social identities. Unfortunately, school choice contributes to the very making of the ?low-achieving? learner category, which is placed upon students from underprivileged backgrounds as a direct but invisible consequence of producing the ?high-achieving? learner category (i.e., mini students). In this neoliberal era of state retrenchment, school choice, as a highly classed educational ideal and practice, adds to ongoing local processes of class formation.    171 5.4 Conclusion  So far, my analysis has focused on the power of school choice policy as a central educational reform in creating academic distinctions between classes of racially and ethnically diverse students and their neighbourhoods. Most of those who participate in school choice, regardless of their racial and ethnic backgrounds, view choice as a tool for gaining a competitive edge and preparing for university. Some of these students, especially those from middle-class immigrant families (who are racial and ethnic minorities within the Canadian state), view mini school options as preparing them to become global elites.  By contrast, those who enrol at their assigned neighbourhood public schools experience a sense of relative demotion and a further element of symbolic domination, a marginalization and ?invisibilization? of groups through ?a denial of public, visible existence? and/or by producing ?negatively marked differences? (Bourdieu, 1998a, pp. 118-119). Clearly, then, there are class dynamics among racial and ethnic minorities with different immigration histories in the global city, which are further discussed in Chapter 7. What I have tried to show in this chapter is that public school choice is a contemporary process that undermines the reality that differences are part of the real world and are deserving of egalitarian forms of acknowledgement within the public school context. Some young people paradoxically have little or no choice?that is, they are not ?free to choose??yet embody the class imaginary, which includes dispositions and practices that distinguish groups of students from one another in the neoliberal global city. School choice then further functions as a reproductive mechanism for creating a different understanding of what neighbourhoods are and have been and how young people ought to navigate them.  172  In particular, school choice in Vancouver has had at least two different and polarizing consequences for students. On one hand, resident student narratives indicate that even under the school choice policy regime, schools are important social spaces where students want to have a sense of comfort and self-protection through class and social membership, and this class-based (and race- and ethnicity-based) socialization tendency is consistent with earlier and current accounts of youth socio-cultural practice and school choice (Bunar, 2010b; Cohen, 1999; Dillabough & Kennelly, 2010; Nayak, 2003; Willis, 1981). For resident students, academically oriented self-improvement is not a priority, and school is not narrowly defined as a centre for knowledge acquisition (Forsey, 2008). Further, their narratives highlight the destiny effect of new educational structures by showing how they dampen regular students? sense of self-worth, work habits, and future aspirations (Bourdieu, 1998a). In this context, Vancouver?s young people are acutely aware of ?invidious hierarchical geographies of schooling? and where they are positioned in a global city (Reay, 2007, p. 1194).  On the other hand, school choice expands the educational choices of high-achieving students and works to secure their futures. In doing so, Vancouver school choice dynamics and consequences are interwoven with local and global forces of change. Currently available choices provide academically successful youths with more opportunities and experiences that bring them one step closer to realizing their global ambitions. Successful young people in the local education market develop and come to embody the global (cosmopolitan) imaginary, which Rizvi (2005) finds is already present for many international students who study abroad for higher education, specifically for Asian students at Australian post-secondary institutions. In my study, too, globally mobile families tended to benefit from their existing cultural and economic capital and were able to further expand them in the local education market (Sassen, 2000; Waters,  173 2006). Choosing a secondary school has become a symbolic way for students to envision their educational and social futures in the global city and beyond, which is reflective of their class-differentiated aspirations for a cosmopolitan identity (Rizvi, 2005). Subsequently, their meanings, experiences, and outcomes of school choice then reflect a continuation of what Bourdieu (1998) theorizes as a class struggle in the global era, which clearly has further racial and ethnic dimensions, as discussed in Chapter 7.  While many different forces may account for this apparent consequence of predominantly class-divided schooling in the local education market, I argue that it is largely because of, or is justified by, the neoliberal global imaginary as it operates locally in the highly classed economy of a city in the affluent West.75 This imaginary is produced and maintained by the neoliberal politico-economic framework that draws upon the dynamics of global economic pressure and competition (Rizvi & Lingard, 2010). I do wish to emphasize the unmistakable character of this competition, for it cannot be eliminated through studies of the language of policy alone. Rather, this economy-focused framework has clearly rationalized the reduction of state, social, and educational provisions in order to enhance international competitiveness through fiscal responsibility (Ruddick, 2003). Class distinction is made and remade through a symbolic recognition of taste and through economic capital (i.e., the high fees incurred by choice families). The dual logic of consumption and competition underpinning today?s public school choice further reduces the public space of education and socially just egalitarian learning models. The market system creates a ?privatized? place of learning sheltered from those who are considered                                                  75 As mentioned in Chapter 3, the average parental income for the eight West Side public secondary schools was about $82,537, compared to $43,111 for the East Side public secondary schools, and $93,488 for all private schools in 2009.  174 to be ?the others,? who are often excluded from these programs. This is reflective of the current era of neoliberal globalization and is especially notable in a city with growing inequality and a polarizing job market (which consists of high-paying professional jobs or dead-end service jobs) and their associated social fragmentations and exclusions (Dillabough & Kennelly, 2010; Sassen, 2000).  In the next chapter, I turn to the importance of space and place in an effort to think more broadly about the ways in which young people?s lives and classification struggles are enmeshed in the larger ?spatial phenomenologies of meaning? circulating in an increasingly globalizing city (Dillabough & Kennelly, 2010). I ask the following related questions: Are there any spatial differences in the ways in which mini schools within the city are perceived by young people, and how does the historically divided geography of the city, as depicted in the context chapter, play into and contribute to the dynamics of the education market?    175 Chapter  6:  The urban imaginary, moral panic, and young people?s school cartographies of security  Beth: I remember putting my status [on Facebook] as ?East Side is too cool for West Side.? Oh, that started a lot?. All the people on the West Side: ?No, East Side is so weird looking. It?s so poor. Nothing to do there. It?s really so horrible there. So dirty. So many gangsters, so many drugs, so many hookers, right?? Well, technically, Westside has all that, too. You don?t see it as much, I guess.? So people ask you, ?Where do you live?? [If you say,] ?I live in West Side.? people automatically think you are rich, and if you say, ?I live in East Side.,? they think you are the poorest person in the world, right?? (Grade 8, mini, West High)   Alongside and in dialectical relation with the ?real? built city exists what may be called the ?urban imaginary?: a coherent, historically based ensemble of representations?. And to the extent that cities are divided along lines of class, race, ethnicity, and gender, in any given city at any given time, there will be a number of urban imaginaries coexisting and competing against each other for dominance. (Greenberg, 2000, p. 228)    In the previous chapter, I showcased young people?s multiple perceptions and unequal experiences of school choice. I highlighted the market as a novel site of classification struggles, the production of distinction, and various forms of symbolic domination in the aspiring global  176 city of Vancouver. Although parental class positions do not necessarily determine the reproduction of class structure through school choice participation, the outcomes of school choice (the distinction-making of young people) have reproductive, polarizing, and divisive effects. In the new educational hierarchy created by mini and regular schools, those who have access to choice programs reaffirm their class privilege. In contrast, those excluded from the education market, particularly youths attending stigmatized inner-city neighbourhood schools, are often demoted and excluded from the possibilities of globalization. Their disadvantaged backgrounds and neighbourhoods continue to circumscribe their opportunities and access to school choice.  In this chapter, I examine young people?s understandings of school choice. More specifically, I examine their meaning-makings in relation to widely circulating urban imaginaries that are generated (and regenerated) in times of moral panic regarding particular neighbourhoods and schools. This chapter therefore seeks to respond to the second research question of this project: How do young people imagine schools in different neighbourhoods with growing inequality and increasing ethnic enclaves?76 In other words, how does the local spatial context and the associated urban imaginary?particularly perceptions of which neighbourhoods are good, safe, and moral and which are bad, dangerous, and immoral?matter to the ways youths experience, imagine, and organize their schooling around the city?                                                  76 As noted in the context chapter, the number of ethnic neighbourhoods, defined as an area in which more than 30% of the population is from a particular ethnic group, increased from 6 in 1981 to 254 in 2001 (Keung, 2004), and these ethnic divisions are noticeable in the disproportionate distribution of students from different ethnic groups in Vancouver schools (see Figure 3.1).  177  Here, I draw extensively upon interview data with students, but I also discuss some of the media articles and policy documents that I use to contextualize student narratives. In particular, I explore the ways in which the school choice imaginary77 is connected to the spatial histories and conditions of school geographies, classed urban neighbourhoods, and recurring moral panics surrounding youth gangs in racially and ethnically marginalized neighbourhoods. I compare students? urban imaginaries to their residential locations. More specifically, I compare the different as well as shared urban imaginaries constructed by students who reside on the West Side with those who live elsewhere (including the East Side, as well as outside of Vancouver). In doing so, I analyze how urban imaginaries matter to, and fundamentally impact upon, students? school choice imaginaries.  I draw on critical spatial approaches to school choice, youth studies, and urban studies to analyze my data. Specifically, I draw on Lucey and Reay?s (2002) work in considering the importance of social and urban imaginaries as they relate to young people?s meaning-making of school choice. In their London, UK, study, Lucey and Reay (2002) insightfully note,  Children constructed complex cartographies of schools based on an imbrication of official and unofficial knowledges, objective and subjective information, rumour and                                                  77 The school choice imaginary refers to the dominant public perceptions of urban schools in the city of Vancouver. The imaginary includes school rankings, media images, and rumors and stories that circulate along the grapevine. The imaginary shapes one?s notion of where one does or does not belong. Like the urban imaginary, it can be contended by different groups of people as well as by one?s lived experiences; thus, there may exist multiple school choice imaginaries.   178 gossip, individual, familial and group experience, all of which went towards the construction of internal and external realities. (p. 255)  As Ball?s (2003) study of the education market in the UK further explains, youths learn about different schools, opportunities, and neighbourhoods through their family and social networks. Building upon these earlier studies of school choice, I suggest that the urban imaginary is a critical dimension of the social imaginary, and it is thus critical that young people?s experiences of school choice are examined in relation to the lived and imagined geographies of the city, or what Soja (1996) calls a Thirdspace78 of the city.  An important addition to the above critical spatial approach is my theorization that the urban imaginary is imagined and reimagined through the lens of the public?s recurring anxiety over incidents and issues that appear to threaten the dominant moral fabric of the society or community. I refer to this anxiety as ?moral panic.?79 Moral panic, when operating as social and/or collective anxiety, produces certain characterizations of urban neighbourhoods and their residents, especially characterizing gang youths as ?folk devils? who undermine the moral                                                  78 Soja?s concept of Thirdspace refers to a ?lived space of radical openness and unlimited scope, where all histories and geographies, all times and places are immanently presented and represented, a strategic place of power and domination, empowerment and resistance? (Soja, 1996, p. 311). As such, Soja theorizes urban spaces to be gendered, structured, and racialized rather than as empirically measurable material spaces or ideational constructs of space (Allen, 1999). Thirdspace refers to ?the realm where ideological struggles over spaces and spatialities occurs in ways that have interactive consequences for both real space and imagined space? (Allen, 1999, p. 258). 79 A more recent variation of this term is ?moral anxiety.? Both terms ultimately stem back to work in the 1970s on apparently ?dangerous subcultures? (Dillabough & Oliver, 2013). For my analysis, I focus on the term ?moral panic,? following Cohen?s (2002/1972) work.  179 standard of a society. Moral panic also creates a practical sense of where individuals belong and do not belong (Cohen, 2002/1972). Based on my ethnographic data, in this chapter, I show how moral panic plays a role in the reconstitution of spatial tensions, inequality, and divisions and further influences the urban patterns of school choice in Vancouver.  6.1 Urban dangers, young people?s cartographies of safety and fear, and the moral function of mini schools  In addition to the official recognition of good schools and students, based on academic performance as noted in the previous chapter, the urban imaginary of danger, drugs, violence, and gangs is deeply terrifying to many teens and thus affects how they construct school cartographies. This is partly because Vancouver, like many major urban centres in North America, has become a city with a growing crime level allegedly connected to the global trade of drugs and internationally known gangs. Especially since the early 1980s, drugs have been closely associated with violent crime, such as stabbings and shootings (Stuntz, 1998). More recently, many brazen drug-related shootings have been reported as being part of a larger global drug problem (e.g., there were 50 gang-related shootings reported between January and April 2009) and have been connected to drug wars elsewhere, especially in Mexico and Central America. This emphasizes Vancouver?s growing global connections, even in drug trafficking (Rodgers, 2009; Skelton, 2010). During the study period, especially leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympics, the media portrayed Vancouver, especially the East Side, as a gangland battlefield (Rodgers, 2009). Within this urban imaginary, the language of drugs is frequently used by my study participants to describe ?bad? schools in Vancouver.  180  Many students expressed their fears and fantasies regarding drugs and drug-associated social groups (i.e., gangs), neighbourhoods, and schools. All students in my study, in fact, seemed challenged by the danger that drugs pose to young lives. Some, especially those who resided in marginalized neighbourhoods, tried to reclassify, albeit symbolically, their stigmatized neighbourhoods and schools, which I discuss in the last section of this chapter. Others, especially those from middle-class families, seemed to prefer relocating to ?clean? schools, resembling the school choice patterns of British middle-class families and children (Lucey & Reay, 2002; Reay, 2007). They avoid demonized schools associated with drugs by opting into mini schools in affluent neighbourhoods.  Albert, a Grade 8 regular West High student, positioned each school based on his perceptions of dangers, drugs, and associated poverty and avoided the tarnished schools by using his parents? economic capital.  Albert: Of course, every school is going to have good and bad students. But there is a really good balance here [at West High]. Ee-Seul: When you say good students, what do you mean by that? Albert: People who don?t bully, get good grades, don?t peer pressure, trustful. Ee-Seul: Who do you think are bad students? Albert: People who bully and peer pressure ... negative peer-pressure, do drugs, drugs are cool?. Ee-Seul: Did you have any problem coming to this school?  181 Albert: I don?t live in the catchment area. I had to get a house in the catchment area, ?cause I really liked this school. I really wanted to go to this school. I absolutely did not want to go to Willow High [his neighbourhood school]. Ee-Seul: Because of? Albert: Because of druggies?. If I went to Willow High, I would be peer pressured into doing drugs. I don?t want to do drugs. ? Ee-Seul: Have you ever been approached by drug dealers? Albert: No, but I know a lot of people who went into drugs. They are now hanging out with the wrong group.  (Grade 8, regular, West High)   Similarly, Juliet, a Grade 12 East High mini student from a working-class Asian-Canadian family, notes that drug problems make people perceive some schools as bad.  Juliet: West High is a really good school. I heard Birch High is really a bad school because of a lot of drug dealing. (Grade 12, mini, East High)  Drugs are an important criterion among young people when perceiving which schools are good or bad in contemporary Vancouver. What students hear about different schools and their associated drug problems, in addition to the academic rankings of different schools, shapes their cartographies of schools (Lucey & Reay, 2002).  182  One particularly notable pattern is that West Side residents? fantasies of East Side schools are fraught with the fear of violence and drugs, as seen in Cedric and Albert?s accounts of school choice below:  Albert: Drugs, basically. I am not saying that everybody at the East Side does drugs, but there is more. Ee-Seul: Do you know anything about East High? What do you know about it? Albert: It?s on the East Side. There are lots of drugs there. Ee-Seul: Drugs, is that what you are really concerned about [in secondary school choice]? Albert: ?Cause, yeah, ?cause I don?t want to do drugs?. If I am in the neighbourhood with a lot of drugs, I would probably get peer pressured into doing drugs. Ee-Seul: You said that there are drugs here, too, right? Albert: A little bit. It?s not that bad. Ee-Seul: You think you will be okay. Albert: Yeah. My friends stay away from drugs.  (Grade 8, regular, West High)  Similarly, Cedric, a Grade 12, cross-boundary, West High regular student, said the following:  Cedric: For me, even I was pressured by my parents to go to Chestnut High [pseudonym for a high school located in central Vancouver] since I live close to it. I thought West High was a good school, academically. It?s always been West High for me. I still think it?s a good school?. West High is really good ?because Westside schools tend to be  183 better.? I feel safe here. I think teachers care more here. They go out of their way to help you. Ee-Seul: When you say it?s safe here, what does that mean to you? Cedric: Well, you hear lots of stories about Eastside schools. I hear stories, like physical things, fighting, and even drugs. (Grade 12, cross-boundary, West High)  Students, especially residents of the West Side, seemed to have dystopian imaginaries of, and thus objections to attending, East Side schools. Neither Cedric nor Albert knew any students who actually attended East Side schools, yet they both strongly asserted their apprehensions about attending East Side schools. They and others with similar narratives (clearly stronger for those who live on the West Side) stated that their rejection of Eastside schools stemmed from dominant forms of stigmatization, which play into and help shape local urban imaginaries of place. Here, we can see how urban spaces are strategic places of power and domination (i.e., Thirdspace) rather than rationally divided simple grids of geography (Soja, 1996). Those who live closer to desirable neighbourhoods reap the profits of their desired localities while those who live in pathologized neighbourhoods tend to experience positional suffering80due to living in a neighbourhood with an undesirable school, even while living in the same city, as I discuss further later (Bourdieu, 1999; Reay & Lucey, 2003).                                                  80 Positional suffering refers to the bearing of distress and pain resulting from occupying a particular social position (Bourdieu, 1999). In particular, those who are in marginalized and deprived social positions experience not only ?the ?real? suffering of material poverty? but also the mental distress of feeling their relatively low standing in social space (Bourdieu, 1999, p. 4).  184  Similarly, Rose, a Grade 8 mini student at West High, told me that she spends about 30?45 minutes each way commuting from her home to West High. On her route to school, she passed about 12 secondary schools, each with a highly competitive mini school. Nonetheless, she said she was not interested in attending any of those schools because of their problems with drugs and violence.  Ee-Seul: How do you get to West High every day? Rose: I take the Skytrain and a bus, and it takes about 30?45 minutes. Ee-Seul: Have you thought about applying to any of the mini schools that are closer to your home? Rose: What I heard was that some of those schools [on the East Side] have drug problems and violence problems. So, I don?t know, but West High Mini seemed to be a better choice.  (Grade 8, mini, West High)  These narratives clearly reveal that students are drawing from the dominant urban imaginary circulating in the wider public arena. The narratives also reflect how the East Side is negatively portrayed in the mainstream media. For instance, in a recent newspaper article covering an East Side building evacuation (Lee, 2011), the readers are informed of the building and neighbourhood?s history, in the context of associated problems on the East Side, while the main focus of the newspaper article is on the city?s order to evacuate one building due to its substandard adherence to fire safety standards. The building is portrayed as a crime hub where drugs and sex are traded. The tenants are portrayed as suffering from substance abuse issues. The  185 article presents a timeline of the police presence required to keep ?order? and ?[to roust] alleged drug dealers? (Lee, 2011). The same article further describes a recent shooting incident in which a young male was shot and wounded after an exchange of gunfire inside a suite. The building, with broken, bullet-punctured, taped and boarded-up windows, is described to be an imminent danger to the tenants, who are ordered to leave the building and live in a city-provided shelter (Lee, 2011). This local media discourse, the portrayal of the city?s East Side as the part of town where all the ?problems? are apparently concentrated, tends to regenerate the negative imagery of the East Side, reflective of the historical local division. Prior to, during (and after) the prohibition era in North America, the Downtown Eastside was seen as a place where illegal alcohol was served and immorality was bred because of its concentration of illegal drinking bars and prostitution. While the prohibition period was short-lived in Vancouver, from 1917 to 1920, its effects on moral regulation are enduring in current legal framework and treatment mechanisms, especially in Downtown Eastside (Graham, 2007).81  Surrounded by these media stories and historical memories, which negatively portray the East Side as a problematic area, young people?s narratives about their fears of drugs seem to reflect the dominant cultural and class biases that surround the use of drugs in low-income neighbourhoods. Drug use is negatively perceived because it reflects the moral failure of less                                                  81 The production, selling, and buying of drugs for the purpose of leisure is currently a criminal offence in Canada.  At the end of 2010, the federal government launched a national campaign, DrugsNot4ME, encouraging young people to turn their backs on drugs. Noteworthy is what was apparent in the past (the short-lived prohibition era, the criminalization of alcohol) and what is clear in the present (the criminalization of drugs): the classifying function of moral images and registers.  186 affluent classes and racialized minorities (Stuntz, 1998).82 As such, most students told me they wanted to avoid schools that have drug problems. Amy, a Grade 12 West High mini student, articulates this point well.  Amy: If I say I go to Willow High [pseudonym], they won?t say, oh, that?s a bad school. They won?t say that. But they might get a different idea. They are judging early on. They are not supposed to, but it?s really common?. It?s known as an East Side school in the West Side.  Ee-Seul: Why is that? Amy: It?s drugs. A lot of drugs. It?s a lot of like, bloodiness. Party. Huge. That kind of lifestyle. It?s that kind of school?. Even with my own friends, I found Willow High really shaped them?. When you go to Willow High ? they don?t teach you academic stuff anymore. They teach you stuff for different lifestyles?. It [West High] is a better                                                  82 Stuntz (1998) points out that low-income drug users are more likely, under the current legal framework, to be caught and punished for their wrongdoings, which makes it appear that drug problems are more common with the lower class than the middle or upper classes. He argues that low-income drug users appear to suffer more severely from addiction because they have fewer resources to deal with the consequences. They are likely to be caught neglecting jobs and families and engaged in theft or robbery and violence. In contrast, Stuntz (1998) argues that those with high incomes are able to deal privately with various drug-related problems and issues using their own resources and without being subject to public scrutiny or legal enforcement. Further, he notes that the current legal and enforcement systems target the sellers who tend to operate in low-income neighbourhoods and who tend to come from families in difficult economic situations. In fact, Canada?s new national campaign promises to be ?tough on the dealers of drugs, but compassionate to their victims, with a focus on prevention and treatment? (Kingsentinel, 2011).  187 alternative because ? the quality of students here is better, not for marks or anything like that. [My mom,] she?s not that type of mom who pushes academically?.West High is a really clean school, compared to Willow High. Ee-Seul: You mean physically clean or drug-wise? Amy: Yeah, yeah, that kind of stuff [drugs]. Students aren?t so slutty or messed up. That?s not the culture at West High. At West High, everyone is pretty friendly.? I think my mom knew that in high school, people get influenced a lot by who?s around them, so she didn?t want to put me in that environment in [her neighbourhood]?. Maybe also because West High, rich people live around here, so maybe better standard or culture. (Grade 12, mini, West High)   As Amy points out, Willow High, despite its West Side location, is seen as having an ?underclass? culture largely because the school is known to have drug ?problems? and is thus to be avoided. While Willow High is located within a West Side neighbourhood, its student body is made up of relatively lower-income families. Although this school neighbourhood has undergone radical gentrification since the 1980s, followed by a real estate boom in the 1990s, when the price of condominiums and houses quadrupled, there are still many multiplexes and rental apartments surrounding the school. Due to these low-income characteristics, Willow High is perceived as a less desirable school than West High, or any other schools on the West Side.     Nonetheless, worth recalling is that West High is not drug free, as Albert remarked in an earlier quotation, yet somehow drug usage at West High is deemed ?acceptable.? This contradictory perception of which neighbourhoods are good and clean or bad and druggy, and why this may be so, echoes the conversations I had with some West High students. As Jason, a  188 regular Grade 12 West High ethnic minority student, who was born in Canada and grew up on the West Side, noted, the use of drugs is somewhat accepted and common for ?the party kids? at West High (field note, March 4, 2010). In other words, while drugs are feared, there is also the sense that their use is less problematic at middle- or upper-middle-class house parties. As a result, the leisure use of drugs, which is perceived as ?occasional and responsible? by the middle- and upper-middle class youths on the West Side, is considered less problematic, despite some youths who become addicted and receive recovery treatment. As such, drug use does not function to undermine the image of West High, and its reputation remains intact, while schools with low-income families and a history of ?working-class culture,? especially on the East Side, are defamed for their association with drugs. The news media, I believe, play a major role in casting stigmas upon major areas of the city.  Indeed, drugs are a part of urban young people?s everyday experiences, and some know where marijuana is traded and smoked. During my fieldwork, one student mapped out the school yard for me, noting where different groups hang out; she also mentioned where weed smokers hang out (field note, May 20, 2010). Indeed, according to Art Steinman, the coordinator of the SACY (School-Age Children and Youth substance abuse prevention) program, there is probably no drug-free secondary school in Vancouver: ?[The drug and alcohol problem] cuts across all schools? (Four Pillars News, 2007). This of course does not mean that every student in Vancouver is engaged in drug use. According to the latest statistics from the 2008 McCreay Centre Society?s survey of 30,000 BC youth, the overall percentage of youths who have tried marijuana is 30% (approximately 9,000 students), and the typical age for the first trial is between 13 and 14 (Fayerman, 2009, April 15). The trend of marijuana consumption is on the rise, up from 22% in 2003 (Buxton, 2007). As such, what is evident in this study is that many young  189 people fear drug problems and associated urban dangers and subsequently wish to avoid the schools known to have drug problems.  In this context, then, it is important to note that some mini schools were introduced as a way to change the ?drug culture? of the main school by providing programs that captured students? interests and passions (field note, February 7, 2010). West High was in fact transformed in the early 2000s from a druggy school to a top public school by creating and attracting high-achieving and ?well-behaved? mini students (field note, May 17, 2010). In my brief chat with the former West High principal, who had proposed and implemented the mini program, I learned that the mini school at West High set new standards for conduct, habits, activities, student culture, and learner communities. The principal?s view was that mini schools have the power to change regular public schools and their cultures. When I spoke with Ms. Fuller (pseudonym), a West High English teacher, she mentioned that in the 1970s and 1980s, West High was not as academically focused, and it had drug problems. Since the mini program was introduced, the school has become one of the top schools, according to the annual Fraser Institute?s Report Cards (field note, March 23, 2010). Mini schools are then, in part, employed to refocus students on academics and compel them to live up to the standards of newly imagined selective educational communities. Furthermore, as Ms. Fuller noted, the school?s growing reputation as good, safe, and high-achieving, since the mini school was introduced, has contributed to the attraction of international students from affluent families from many countries, especially China.  In this light, we can see how some mini schools are seen as safer options in a city with a rising level of drug-related crimes (Rodgers, 2009; Vancouver Police Department, 2008). As beacons of the public education system, mini schools perform a new moral function of regulating  190 good student conduct as well as endorsing particular educational value structures that ultimately lead to greater symbolic capital for both the school and the students. This kind of moral regulation fulfills a market function by creating the kind of competition that choice policy endorses. Morality, class, and the markets, in other words, cannot be separated. Arguably, then, school choice through mini schools further satisfies a moral function in an advanced neoliberal schooling model. By asking each community and school to introduce programs that regulate student behaviour (both academic and social), neoliberal educational authorities ensure high performance with less ?deviance? (i.e., drug abuse). This is noted in the mini school Options brochure, which states that successful applicants ought to exhibit good learning behaviour and ?passion? while also possessing a high level of motivation for learning (Vancouver School Board, 2010). Motivation is not easy to show or measure, yet willingness to focus on academic achievement, as laid out by mini school programs, is highly regarded in the selection process (field note, November 12, 2009). Mini schools thus present their communities as being particularly safe, responsible, and liberal and promote the sense that they offer safer learning environments than do mainstream schools. In this era of neoliberalization, I see this new regulative function of school choice as a vital element of our understanding of the way ?micro-moral relations among persons are conceptualized and administered? (Rose, 1996, p. 331). This hidden moral function of school choice seems to be particularly pertinent to public anxiety over the city?s growing problems of drug trafficking and gangs, as further discussed below. It also points to the ways in which the manipulation of a public school structure, rather than focusing solely on the market investment of private schools, can reproduce class conflict in new ways that may appear, on the surface, highly progressive.   191 6.2 Moral panic: the fear of gangs in urban schools According to the Vancouver Police Department?s (VPD) (2008) 2008?2012 Strategic Plan, gang violence is becoming increasingly severe and is growing in the areas of drug-trafficking, turf wars, grow-rip robberies (i.e., stealing from grow-ops), drug smuggling, extortions, and kidnappings. As such, the VPD (2008) has made curbing gang violence its major organizational priority. Yet, as noted earlier, gang violence escalated in 2009, as the local media demonstrated with its headlines, including ?Six shootings in six days in growing gang violence? (CTV, 2009). When discussing the topic of school choice, many young participants often brought to my attention the different kinds of urban moral panic83 related to local ?folk devils,? especially youth gangs (particularly drug dealers and users), and their moral failures when discussing pathologized urban areas and schools. The persistence of stereotypes, and thus the pathologizing of particular urban neighbourhoods with negative images, as Cohen (2002/1972) notes, constitutes urban moral panic. As Ricoeur further notes, incidents of deadly violence, which cause moral panic, result in the ?existential crisis of community? (1991, p. 484). While community efforts to rebuild tarnished neighbourhood schools exist, tragic incidents of gang-related violence and death lead to the disintegration of a community and its school as a hub of community. In this section, I focus on gang ?folk devils? and the potential they have in shaping urban imaginaries and school choice imaginaries by constructing and maintaining the public imagination of ?bad? schools.  One particularly notable pattern among participants is that a large number of youths living in central Vancouver neighbourhoods in detached homes with their middle-class parents                                                  83 According to Cohen (2002/1972), moral panic consists of intensely anxious ?public? responses to morally threatening events, people, and areas