Sociology AQA: AS Level, Unit 2- Education

Revision for the AQA Sociology 'Education' unit.

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  • Created on: 02-02-12 20:57
Preview of Sociology AQA:  AS Level, Unit 2- Education

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Education, Socialisation and Citizenship:
Structuralists: Focus on purpose of education for wider
Consensus Perspective: Functionalist- Emphasise positive
Conflict Perspective: Marxist & Feminist- Critical
Functionalist- Consensus Perspective
Education important in preventing anomie
Being taught history important; teaches shared
heritage, integration and solidarity.
Family based on affective (affectionate) relationships.
Society is based on instrumental (mutual self- interest).
School teaches instrumental relationships gradually-
`easing' them into it!
Education teaches the value of achieved status' rather
than ascribed.
Education teaches universalistic standards- rather than
the particularistic standards seen in family
Competition, equality and individualism are taught
within education. These are crucial to capitalism and

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Marxism- Conflict Perspective
Schools make proletariat passive and resigned to their
fate. Making sure they don't rebel!
Education acts as an Ideological
apparatus- `brainwashing'
Apply this to schools, it can be argued hidden curriculum
teaches obedience etc. and punishes free thinking.…read more

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Feminism- Conflict Perspective
Similar argument to Marxists, but the focus is on gender
inequality rather than class. Argue that the education
system legitimises gender inequality. The ways in which
boys and girls are treated differently send messages about
appropriate behaviour Etc. which in turns creates the
illusion that patriarchy is acceptable.…read more

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Education and the Economy
Consensus Perspective- Functionalist
Education teaches skills needed for future
employment, such as literacy and numeracy but
also general skills, like punctuality.
This makes individuals more employable and gives
society a healthy economy- driving up standards
of living.…read more

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Extends this idea, saying that school acts a
meritocratic, neutral filtering system. Education is
vital in ensuring that the right people are assigned
to the right jobs.
Conflict Perspective- Marxism
Pick up on the same principles- but see them in a negative
light. Argue education reproduces inequality which `locks'
people into their existing positions in the stratification
system- changing nothing and maintaining exploitation and
Key to `sorting process' is NOT ability but social class.…read more

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Conflict Perspective- Feminist
Again, agree with Marxist that education sorts people by
social characteristics and not ability.
Schools recreate gender inequality in their sorting function:
Historically, formal restrictions- Placing restrictions on what
girls could study. I.e. not being able to study `academic'
subjects and being banned from exams.
Now, informal restrictions- Girls and boys `encouraged' to
take gender-specific subjects and careers through peer and
teacher pressure. Also encouraged by the packaging of
subjects.…read more

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Processes Within the School
Teacher- student interactions
Interactionists- Focus on processes which occur within
schools. As opposed to the structuralists focus on
educations effect on society.
Most influential aspect of interactionist
thinking is how teachers `pigeonhole'
students. Part of an argument called `labelling
theory'. This looks at how teachers make
judgements about students and give them labels.…read more

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Teachers might find labelling useful to judge
what their classes are `like'. But a number of
studies show that these labels are based less
on actual evidence that they are stereotypes.
Once given a label, it can become sticky and hard to lose!
Teachers may screen out behaviour which contradicts their
judgement- ignoring good behaviour etc and making
escaping a label harder! Other issues within school are
effected by labels, such as whether pupils are allowed on
school trips, sets and exam tiers.…read more

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Student Subcultures
Interactionists are also concerned with understanding the
nature of anti-school subcultures, those who oppose the
authority of schools.
Sociologists have studied the diff. Subcultures formed by diff. social
groups- particularly class, gender & ethnicity. The common idea is
that sub-cultures form as a `coping strategy' for constraints placed
on groups within school and wider society.
Ultimately, anti-school subcultures are self-destructing and lead to
underachievement and disengagement/alienation.…read more

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The curriculum
The official curriculum
Some argue the content of the curriculum draws on cultural
capital most familiar to white, middle-class students
(bourdieu). As a result, some students identify strongly with
school and others are left `outsiders'. Some who are more
fluent with the culture of the curriculum have a head start.
Others are constantly catching up. This explains some
children's underachievement.
The hidden curriculum
Some subjects are `packaged' to appeal to certain
groups i.e. gender bias in activities or examples
used in certain subjects.…read more



this is extremely detailed and usefull, cheers :)


Simple outline of theory and related studies

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