In search of new explanations on the relationship between education and inequality: The case of the Nezahualcóyotl’s Technological University
ABSTRACT Explaining the relationship between inequality and education from functionalist perspectives runs the risk of failing to discuss how individuals act within social structures. This article, therefore, proposes utilizing Amartya Sen’s perspective of human capabilities to explain the relationship between inequality and higher education in Mexico. The Universidad Tecnológica de Nezahualcóyotl (UTN) was chosen for study since its graduates acquire a type of capability (or freedom) that allows them to recreate continually, up to a certain point, the social formations in which they live. This action comprises the first step in reducing inequality. However, to the degree these young people intervene in their world and chart their own routes for personal and professional development (with the purpose of attaining greater well-being), their social and economic opportunities contract. The result is a divided group of professionals with similar aspirations but different economic levels, and consequently a new type of inequality. Students with higher income levels meet their aspirations more easily than those who face economic restrictions. And although the UTN contributes substantially to reducing unequal capabilities, attention must also be paid to the university’s institutional, political and economic setting in order to further the understanding of inequality in education.