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The Functionalist Approach
Background: Society is compared to living organism, known as organic anology Society is a
system of interdependent parts held together by shared culture (everything learnt/shared by society
consisting of norms & values) or value consensus (general agreement amongst all societies
members). This is taught through socialisation (process where an individual learns their cultures
norms & values) both through primary (family) & secondary (education, religion & media) sources.
Durkheim (1903) says education performs 2 functions:
1)Social solidarity a group pulling together sharing norms, helping to create a functional society,
without individuals perusing selfish desires.
2)Specialised skills - to create specialised division of labour, creating functional economy & society.
Parsons (1961) says education also performs 5 functions:
1)Secondary socialisation To create a value consensus
2)Bridge - Between family and wider society, by teaching children universalistic values and norms
preparing you for adult life.
3)Status - Gives children opportunity to shake off their acquired status (born with) & individually
attain their own achieved status (earnt).
4)Role allocation - Meaning jobs will be performed efficiently, helping to create a functional society.
Students assessed through exams & directed toward specific occupations depending on their ability
and talents. Davis & Moore said the most talented people go to the most important jobs (most vital
for society to function). These lead to the highest rewards (status, money and power), giving an
incentive to students which is needed during education.
4) Meritocracy - equal opportunities, no matter what your background or previous status.…read more
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The Marxist Approach
Background: Analyse society in terms of class and say society is shaped by the capitalist economic
system, which consists of privately owned businesses, run to make a profit. There are two classes:
Bourgeoisie (ruling class) own means of production, minority.
Proletariat (subject class) labour force, vast majority.
The B's need P's for labour, and the P's needs B's to provide labour to make money. Therefore the
B's exploit the P's, oppressing them, by never paying them the full wage for their labour (surplus
value). The P's are kept in a state of false class consciousness where they do no realise their
situation, so unaware of exploitation and oppression. As the B's have most power, they have
socialised the P's into the state of FCC, using the socialising agents.
Althusser (1971) see's schools as transmitting an ideology that capitalism is fair, preparing pupils for
workforce roles. Most are taught to expect exploitation (reproducing inequality) but some are taught
that their education legitimates their position of power (legitimises class inequality), and should
control the work force. He calls this ideological status apparatuses (include religion and education,
and help the B's maintain their position).
Bowles and Gintis argue there is close correspondence between social relationships in the classroom
and those in the work place, which operates through the hidden curriculum (correspondence
principle). This is essential for social reproduction (a new generation of workers appropriately
schooled to accepts their roles in a capitalist society). Some examples of the corresponding
relationships include: Pupils rely on teachers for knowledge as workers rely on managers. There is a
definite hierarchy. + Both school and work use external rewards rather than job satisfaction to
motivate and control. They also argue education is `a giant myth-making machine' and promote
meritocracy, when it doesn't exist.…read more
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Paul Willis - Learning to labour/`the lads'. He studied 12, 16 year old boys for 13
months from 1 school, studying the counter school subculture (small group within
wider society who disagree with school values). He used an observational ethnographic
study (small groups life style is studied), using overt participant observation (observed
the group as part of the group), questionnaires and long interviews. He found they spent
most of their time disrupting the school. He later followed them into work, in factories,
and found they fell into the `shop floor culture' and found it had similar values to the
counter school subculture, being they believed it was boring and alienating. Willis
looked at why the lads were like this:
They all came from working class backgrounds and said they were influenced by their
fathers who also worked in factories, and also had low values on education.
They have a proletariat background which influences them at school.
Class reproduction meant they remained in the class they were ascribed at birth,
preparing them for the shop floor culture, leaving school with few or no qualifications,
giving them no choice.
They were accustomed to boredom so don't expect satisfaction from work.…read more
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Background: They analyse a patriarchal society (society dominated by men), and
gender inequalities in society, which has been justified by education. They believe men
control main socialisation and keep women in a state of false gender consciousness.
There are 5 main types: Radical (men are the enemy), Liberal (campaign against sex
discrimination), Marxist (capitalism is main cause of women's oppression), Black
(Challenge patriarchal &racism), Difference (critical of other feminists).
They highlighted 7 key inequalities in education:
1) Gendered language school textbooks use `he', `his', `man' and `men' .
2) Gender roles textbooks present males and females in traditional gender roles.
3) Gender stereo types boys are presented as adventurous, physically stronger, having
more choice, and girls are presented as caring, more interested in domestic matters and
followers rather than leaders.
4) Women in the curriculum Women are `hidden from history'.
5) Subject choice Female students, traditionally avoid maths science and tech, and the
girls subject choices had lower status/value.
6) Discrimination eg/ the pass mark for the 11+ was lower for boys than girls so boys
could succeed and girls could `artificially' fail.
7) Further + higher education Female numbers have been lower than boys & evidence
suggests teachers often gave boys more encouragement than girls to go to uni.…read more
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New Right Approach
Background: This is a conservative political party, but its ideas are influenced by both
Labour and Conservative policies. A central belief is that the state cannot meet the needs of
the public, so the people are left to meet their own and the best way to do so is through a free
market. For this reason they favour the marketisation of education.
They're similar to functionalists in that they believe some people are more naturally talented
than others, they favour an education system run on meritocratic principles of open
competition, and believe education should socialise pupils into shared values. However a
key difference is that they do not believe the current education system is achieving these
goals, and this is because it's run by the state. They argue that all state education and
political system use the power of the state to impose their view of what kind of schools we
should have. It takes a `one size fits all' approach., which means they're unresponsive and
reproduce inefficiency. Their solution is the `marketisation of education' believing
competition between schools and laws of supply and demand will empower the consumers,
bringing greater diversity, increasing the ability to meet societies needs.
Chubb & Moe: Consumer choice (1990) they argue that American state education has
failed because it hasn't created equal opportunities, it's inefficient because it's fails to
produce pupils with skills needed by the economy and the private schools produce the higher
quality students. They base this argument on the comparison of 60000 low income pupils,
and 1,015 state and private high schools, with the findings from a parent survey. Results
found kids from low income families did 5% in private schools.
Although they believe education should be a free market, they believe the state should still
impose a framework on schools, as well as ensure that schools transmit a shared culture.…read more