Marxist Perspective on Education

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  • Marxist Perspective of Education
    • Althusser: Ideological State Apparatus
      • Two elements which serve to keep the bourgeoisie in power
        • Repressive State Apparatuses (RSAs) - maintains the rule of the bourgeoisie by force or the threat of it (including police, courts and the army)
        • Ideological State Apparatuses (ISAs) - maintain the rule of the bourgeoisie by controlling the peoples' ideas, values and beliefs (includes the media, religion etc)
      • Education performs two functions
        • Reproduces class inequality by transmitting it from each generation by failing each generation of w/c pupils
        • Legitimates class inequality by producing ideologies that disguise true cause - persuades workers that inequality is inevitable and that they deserve their subordinate position
    • Bowles and Gintis: Schooling in Capitalist America
      • Schooling helps to produce the obedient workers that capitalism needs
        • Don't believe that education fosters personal development - it stunts and distorts students' development
      • The Correspondence Principle and the Hidden Curriculum
        • Schools and workplaces are hierarchies
        • Schooling takes place in the long shadow of work
          • Parallels between schools and workplaces as examples of the correspondence principle
            • Relationships and structures found in education mirror or correspond to those of work
        • Operates through the hidden curriculum
          • Lessons  that are learnt in school but aren't directly taught
        • Schooling prepares w/c pupils for their role as the exploited workers of the future
          • Reproducing the work force capitalism needs and perpetuates class inequality
      • The Myth of Meritocracy: the Legitimisation of Class Inequality
        • To prevent the w/c from rebelling
          • Education system helps to legitimise class inequality
            • Produces ideologies that serve to explain and justify why inequality is: fair, natural and inevitable
        • Meritocracy: everyone has an equal opportunity to achieve - rewards are based on ability and effort
          • Main factor determining whether someone has a high income in the future - family and class background
          • Meritocracy serves to justify the privileges of the higher classes
            • Seems as if they gained through success in open and fair competition at school
          • Helps to persuade the w/c to accept inequality and makes them less likely to seek to overthrow capitalism
    • Evaluation
      • Postmodernists criticise Bowles and Gintis - today's economy requires schools to produce a different type of labour force from the one described by Marxists - education reproduces diversity not inequality
      • Assume pupils have no free will and passively accept what they're taught
        • Fails to explain why many pupils reject school values
      • Morrow and Torres - society is more diverse - must explain how education reproduces and legitimates all forms of inequality and how the differences are inter-related
      • Madeleine MacDonald (1980) - Bowles and Gintis ignore the fact that  schools reproduce capitalism AND hierarchy
      • Willis' account of the 'lads' romanticises them - portrays them as w/c heroes
        • Anti-social behaviour and sexist attitudes
        • Small-scale study = unlikely to be representative and is risky to generalise findings
    • Willis; Learning to Labour
      • Capitalism can't function without a workforce that is accepting of exploitation
        • Education reproduces and legitimates class inequality
          • Ensures the w/c are slotted into and learn to accept jobs that are poorly paid and alienating
      • The Lads' Counter-Culture
        • Form a distinct counter-culture opposed to school
          • Scornful of conformists - call them 'ear'oles'
            • Intimidation humour - 'taking the ****' out of the 'ear'oles' and the girls
        • Find school boring and meaningless - disregard rules and values
          • Acts of defiance = ways of resisting the school
            • Reject the 'con' of school's meritocratic ideology - w/c pupils can achieve through hard work
        • Similarities between anti-school counter culture and shop floor culture
          • Manual work = superior / Intellectual work = inferior
        • Counter-culture of school - helps them to slot into the jobs that capitalism needs
          • Accustomed to boredom and finding ways of amusing themselves - good at finding diversions to cope with the tedium of unskilled labour
            • Acts of rebellion guarantee they end up in unskilled jobs - ensuring their failure to gain worthwhile qualifications
      • 1977 study - w/c pupils can resist attempts indoctrinate them
        • Group of 12 w/c boys - making a transition from school to work

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