Summary of Marxism/Functionalism/Feminism views on Education

  • Marxism
  • Funtionalism
  • Feminism

-Summary of main sociological perspectives on education for theory questions where links to AS are needed.

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Perspectives on Education
The education system works in the interest of the powerful minority.
The education system creates the illusion of a meritocracy, but the working class
are under false consciences due to capitalist ideology legitimising their
Education produces an obedient docile workforce.
Function one: Preparing the working class for their inferior positions in society
(Bowels and Gintis)
Bowels and Gintis (1976) argue that the economy determines what happens
in the education system. Schools provide workers that are going to be able
to fulfil restricted expected roles in the workforce.
The working class are prepared for long tedious hours of work, by their
school experience corresponding with the working life they will
Bowels and Ginitis believe that the hidden curriculum (hidden message) is
more important that aspects of the official curriculum.
Hidden curriculum corresponds with the organisation of the workplace by:
1. There is a hierarchy of power.
2. In both only extrinsic satisfaction (external rewards) are gained
from attendance. In school you gain no intrinsic satisfaction
(fulfilment, enjoyment, satisfaction)
3. In both the working class experience is one of fragmentation.
Participants have no control or understanding of the `bigger
picture' Students see no correlation between one subject and
another, just as workers engage in one aspect of the production
process, has no link to other aspects.
Function Two ; Ideological Control
Althusser (1970) saw schools as the ideological state apparatus, people persuaded
to accept the social position.
The education system develops a false consciousness in the working class, that
capitalism is just and reasonable and the fairest organisation of society.
Function Three: The social control function of education
Braverman (1973) said that only a low level of skill is required of the lower class in
a capitalist society. (Capitalist: not equal status and wealth)
Schools over educate the majority of work they will do and act in effect as
babysitters for adolescents, preventing unemployment and crime.
Function Four; Reproducing the power of dominant class.
Bourdeiu (1974) argued that the education system is systematically biased in
favour of the middle classes. It devalues the skills on the working class.
Education reproduces the culture of the middle classes, and ignores values of the
working class.
Middle classes are already equipped with the potential to succeed.

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Cultural capital: The ability to unlock the codes of the school (middle classes) it is
passed on from one generation to the next, translated into wealth and power often,
Socialisation function:
Durkheim argued that education ensures there is a shared system of norms and
values to avoid anomie.…read more

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Girls saw themselves in terms of
objects of others desire rather in terms of their own achievements.…read more


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