Interactionism: education

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  • Interactionism: role + function of education
    • an understanding of what goes on inside schools is important for understanding behaviour and attainment in schools
    • not focused on the effect that education has on other institutions
    • want to know how individuals shape and are shaped by the education system
      • the key to understanding how individuals make sense of the world is to understand the meanings they hold about it
    • we are not products of the social system but active individuals
    • Becker
      • teachers develop an image of each of their students in a short period of time
      • this image includes ideas about a student's ability and behaviour (which may be completely false)
      • some students are defined as 'ideal' because they closely resemble the teacher's middle class view of what the perfect student is like
      • this image becomes a label which may lead to self-fulfilling prophecy
        • idea of self-fulfilling prophecy developed by Rosenthal and Jacobsen
    • evaluation
      • ignores the wider social context e.g who controls the school? what is the impact of material/ cultural deprivation?
      • many interactionist studies are qualitative in nature and are small-scale + subjective
      • is deterministic - it assumes students can't escape self-fulfilling prophecy


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