The role of education - Marxism

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  • The role of education - Marxism
    • Louis Althusser (1971)
      • The education system is an ideological state apparatus
        • ISAs maintain the rule of the bourgeoisie by controlling people's ideas, values and beliefs
      • Education system has two main functions
        • It reproduces class inequalities by failing each successive generation of WC pupils in turn
        • It legitimates class inequality by persuading pupils to accept inequality as inevitable
    • Bowles and Gintis (1976)
      • Schooling in Capitalist America
        • Studied 237 New York high school students
        • Found that schools reward precisely the kind of traits that make for a submissive, compliant worker
      • The correspondence principle
        • There are close parallels between school and work
        • Internal structure/ hierarchy e.g. pupils; teachers; principal
        • Operates through the hidden curriculum; lessons taught without being 'learnt'
        • School prepares WC pupils for their role as exploited workers
      • The myth of meritocracy
        • Those who fail blame themselves not the system
        • Income is determined by your social class not your grades
        • An attempt to stop the poor from rebelling against capitalism
        • Creates the illusion that the UP gain privileges through merit, which persuades the WC to accept inequality
    • Paul Willis (1977): Learning to Labour
      • Studied the counter-culture of the 'lads;
        • The 'lads' were 12 WC boys
      • The lands find school boring and meaningless
        • They flout its rules and values e.g. by smoking; truancy etc
        • They reject the school's meritocratic ideology that WC pupils can get MC jobs by working hard
      • The lads' counter-culture ensures they are destined for the unskilled work that capitalism needs someone to perform
    • Evaluation
      • Postmodernists say B+G's CP is outdated: today's post-Fordist economy requires schools to produce a very different workforce to this. Education now reproduces diversity, not inequality
      • Willis showed that pupils are not necessarily passive victims - they resist authority
      • Feminists like Macdonald and Robbie say schools reproduce not only inequality, but patriarchy too
      • Morrow and Torres (1998) criticise Marxists for taking a class-first approach: ethnicity/gender important too

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