What is Informal and Formal Education?

Informal- Occurs outside of a classroom setting and can come from friends, family, religion ect. It occurs in a spontaneous and unplanned ways. 

Formal- Occurs within an established publicy recognised and accepted institution, such as a school, college or training centre with a structured or institutionalised approach to education.

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What is Primary and Secondary socialisation?

Primary- Occurs during early childhood when, as babies and infants, we learn the basic behaviour patterns, language and skills that we will need later in life. The agency of primary socialisation is the families and parents. 

Secondary- This begins later in childhood and continues throughout our adult lives. We learn societies norms and values. Agencies of Secondary socialisation are: Mass media, workplace, peer groups, religions and school. 

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What is individualisation?

Definition- A child learns about themself through education. She or he learns what they like and dislike, what their talents are and what they are good at or not. Its an important part of the process of children finding out how they will fit into adult society. 

Extend- Those who criticise modern formal education say that the real aim is to make sure that through a process of hierarchy, inequalities in society stay the same. This sort of socialisation really teaches the child about unfairness as well as where they are 'supposed to be' 

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What is Unschooling?

An alternative philosophy of education to formal schools. Unschooling is unstructured learning- instead of set lessons, books, teachers (whether at home or in school) children are taught in a more natural style. 

An example of this is the Summer Hill School. 

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What are the Interactionist & Structuralist approa

Interactionist- The interaction or relationship between people and how that conditions behaviour. 

Structuralist- Its social structures or wider frameworks/systems that have priority over the actions of an individual. 

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What is the Functionalist perspective on Education

A functionalist’s perspective on education is to have a consensus perspective: examine society in terms of how it is maintained for the common good. A functionalist will put an emphasis on positive aspects of schools such as socialisation: the learning of skills and attitudes in school. Education helps maintain society by socialising young people into values of achievement, competition and equality of opportunity. 

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What were Emile Durkheim's views on Education?

He maintained that ''society can survive only if there exists among its members a sufficient degree of homogeneity'' 

  • Durkheim views education as an entity creating social solidarity: community, cooperation.
  • Education transmits culture: shared beliefs and values.
  • Schools are a miniature society: cooperation, interaction, rules – universalistic standards.
  • Specialist skills: division of labour – schools teach specialist knowledge and skills.


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What are Parsons views on Education?

Parson views education as being part of a meritocracy. Education is a secondary agent of socialisation – bridge between family and society. Parsons believes that education instils values of competition, equality and individualism. In a meritocracy everyone is given equality of opportunity. Achievements and rewards are based on effort and ability – achieved status. 

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What did Davis and Moore think of Education?

Davis and Moore examined role allocation. They believe that education selects talented individuals and allocates them to the most important roles in society. Higher rewards for jobs such as GP’s and pilots encourages competition. Davis and Moore believe that education sifts and sorts according to ability.

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What is Structural consensus theory?

Structural consensus theory – agreement through socialisation; Macro theory; Society made up of interdependent and interrelated parts; Look at positive aspects and see education as being very important and beneficial.


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Criticism of Functionalist perspectives on Educati

Critics of Functionalism state that as a theory it assumes education is fair and that it rewards the best and ignores social inequalities that may restrict attainment:

Marxism believes that education teaches the values and norms of the bourgeoisie (the ruling class)

The New Right criticises the skills and knowledge taught in schools and believes that they teach things irrelevant to the world of work 

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What are Consensus and Conflict theories?

Consensus- social order is based on agreement and a shared sense of mutual order. The focus is on collaboration. In education, therefore, the emphasis is on maintaining order through reinforcing the norms and values of mainstream society through the education system. Functionalists are a consensus group.

Conflict- Social order operates via a dominant group controlling or manipulating a subordinate or less powerful group. Education plays a part in maintianing social hierarchy. Feminists and Marxists are in this group.

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What is the Hidden Curriculum?

Hidden Curriculum- Might seem that the most important lessons in school are those on the curriculum, however sociologists who research education have discovered snother kind of education that takes place in schools. We get taught alot about people, relationships, society, rules, structures, hierarchy, communication and adult behaviour. 

This is the education that is hidden

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What are the 5 ways children can be assigned to a

1. Religion- Prior to 1870, poorer children could only attend schools that were run by churches. Historically speaking, faith selection has been central to schooling. They tend to produce better exam results but can be accused of seggregating communities.

2. Abilty- The remaining grammar schools as well as some specialist schools still select based on abilty, some are supportive of entrance exams, claiming they ensure education is personalised and tailored to students needs.

3. Catchment Area- The area that surrounds a comprehensive school determines its intake. Introduced in the 60's, many support it bc it ensures equality of access regardless of social background.

4. Parental Choice- Another important factor in the admissions process. During Thatchers leadership when public services were increasingly marketised, parents were encouraged to 'shop' for suitable schools.

5. Banding- Children are siphoned into different ability levels ie high, middle and low. In this way schools maintain diversity by accepting students from all backgrounds and abilities. 

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What is a private school?

Many of the famous fee paying 'public schools' eg Eton, Harrow, Rugby, Charterhouse etc are considered by the majority of British society to be the most exclusive and elite schools in the nation. Public meaning open to all members of the fee paying public. 

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What is Home schooling?

Under section 7 of the 1996 Education Act, parents are responsible for ensuring that their children recieve an educationsitable to their age, ability and aptitude, as well as any special needs. In order to home school a child, the following factors apply:

  • LEA permission is required
  • There is no need for any particular qualifications 
  • There are no predetermined hours or times that have to be adhered to
  • There is no need to conform to the National Curriculum 
  • Not required to take exams or SATS
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What do Functionalists, Feminists and Marxists all

In order for the economy to continue running it must be constantly fuelled with individuals who have different capabilities and skill levels. Functionalists, Feminists and Marxists have all said that education serves to filter the population into different career paths that combine to stabilise the economy. 

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How do Symbolic Interactionists explain processes

Symbolic Interactionists are interested in small scale interactions that occur in educational settings. Studies of how teachers perceive, relate to and label their students have revealed much about the socialising influence of education according to symbolic interactionists. 

Whereas Functionalists such as Parsons felt that the educational system provided children with a window of opportunity to escape the status that was ascribed to them by their families.

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What is Labelling?

Labelling in schools- When teachers make initial judgements about pupils, often discriminatory and then students take on these assigned stereotypes as actual characteristics because they were treated according to it. (Self fulfilling prophecy)

Labelling theorists claim that by labelling certain people as criminal or deviant, society encourages them to become more so:

Primary Deviance- Deviant acts that have not been publicly labelled. They may have many causes, are often trivial and mostly go uncaught eg dodging a train fare. Those who commit primary acts of deviance do not see themselves as deviants.

Secondary Deviance- Results from societal reaction ie from labelling. Labelling someone as an offender can involve stigmatising and excluding them from normal society. 

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What is a Subculture?

A subculture can be described as a culture within the mainstream, and dominant culture in terms of the norms and values of any given society. In terms of Education- students may either conform to or rebel against these norms. 

A pupil subculture is a group of those who fully oppose the collevtive values of a school. Rebellious anti- social school subcultures. David Hargreaves 1973 would argue that these subcultures are a result of negative labelling. 

Peter Woods 1981 expands this by identifying 8 types of school subcultures known as pupil adaptations: these range from groups that fully subscribe to insitutaitonal norms to groups that openly rebel with many 'shades of grey' between. 

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Gender and Educational achievement?

For the past 20 years, girls have consistently out performed boys in most school subjects. The reasons for improvement can be:

External factors (outside of education) such as home, family background, the job market and wider society.

Internal factors such as changes in the educational system and the effect of schools equal opportunities policies. 

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How did McRobbie explain Gender and Educational ac


Comparisons of girls magazines:

Older magazines such as Jackie emphasized the importance of girls getting married and starting families. Now images in the media/magazines emphasize the importance of girls aiming high and achieving in careers and education. Girls now find more importance in succeeding than finding a husband. 

Therefore girls are achieving more in Education. 

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How did Jo Boaler explain Gender based Educational


  • She claims the 'Equal Opportunity Policies' are a key reason for the changes in girls' achievement.
  • It helps achieve Meritocracy, based on the principle of equal opportunity.
  • More opportunities for girls to do better and therefore girls do better
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How have positive role models changed girls achiev

  • Increasing number of female teachers and headteachers- provide girls in school with direct inspiration as to what women can achieve. These women are pro educational and therefore pass that enthusiasm on
  • This encourages girls to see school as a 'female gender domain' 
  • As a result, they come to perceive educational success as a desirable feminine characteristic 
  • Therefore girls achieve more
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How did Mitsos and Browne explain girls and course

According to them, girls do better at coursework than boys.

  • Girls are more conscientious, better organised, mature earlier and concentrate longer
  • New right thinker Pirie thinks the traditional gender roles of girls place them in better standing in Education ie being neat, tidy, patient. 
  • Gorad adds to this theory in 2005 by pointing out that the gender achievement gap increased sharply in 1988 when coursework was made a major part of most subjects at GCSE
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How does Weiner explain gender based differences i


Claims since the 1980's teachers have been challenging stereotypes of gender such as the good housewife trope. Sexist images have been removed from textbooks and materials. These messages are no longer enforced upon children in schools and therefore they are less likely to learn them. 

Therefore, girls are able to achieve more. 

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How do selection and league tables seemingly affec

  • Exam 'league tables' encourage competition between schools and pupils.
  • Schools have incentive to recruit more able students to boost results.
  • Succesful students are more attractive to schools, which are generally girls.
  • Low achieving students, typically boys are seen as 'liability students' who will create a bad image for the school, bad grades, lower in league tables.
  • As a result, girls are more likely to attain places in succesful schools.
  • Therefore they get a better education and achieve more
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How does achievement differ based upon race?

Achievement within education is very varied across cultures, with some such as Chinese and Indian students performing above the average, and African-Caribbean and Pakistani students performing well below average. 

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How do material factors affect educational achieve

Social class and material factors – Minority ethnic children are more likely to live in low-income households. This means they face the problems that Douglas highlighted, the material factors, such as poor quality housing, no working space etc. Material Deprivation. They are therefore less able to succeed in Education, due to lack of resources that help them. 

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How does Language affect Educational achievement w

Language – For many children of an ethnic minority English is not their mother-tongue. This can be a disadvantage because they may not understand exams as well as others. Also they might struggle to express themselves with limited English. Finally, some teachers may mistake poor English for a lack of intelligence, when actually this could be completely untrue, meaning that a clever child may be let down by the teacher who might not push the student to their full potential.

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How does Family life affect achievement within rac

Family Life – African-Caribbean communities have a high level of lone parenthood. This can mean that many face financial problems, this can lead to lower achievement in school (Douglas’ material factors). Conversely, single mothers can be a positive role model or influence for many young girls, meaning they perform better in education.

Family sizes, dynamics, ethos' all have an impact on how a child succeeds in school- primary socialisation 

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How does Racism affect students achievement?

Racism – There are two key ways in which racism can affect attainment amongst children on ethnic minority:

  • A culture of resistance – Racism can lead to low-self esteem among ethnic minorities. A marxist Hall said that this can lead to a rejection of school, he called it a “culture of resistance”
  • Teacher stereotyping, labelling and conflict in the classroom – whilst very few teachers are consciously racist some may subconsciously hold prejudice against ethnic minorities. This can lower the students attainments in many ways, one is that the teachers give the student lower grades. Another way is that the teacher negatively labels a student of ethnic minority which can lead to self-fulfilling prophecy. Racism can also lead to conflict between students and teachers, making learning much harder
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How do Ethnocentric Curriculums affect students ac

Ethnocentric school curriculum – Many aspects of the school curriculum are ethnocentric (see glossary). There are several reasons why ethnic minorities may struggle due to this curriculum. One is that the subjects often focus on British culture; naturally White British students will have grown up with this culture, so they might have a greater understanding of the content than students who grew up in a different culture. Another reason is that the content of the curriculum could lower ethnic minorities self-esteem, this is because often the white character is seen as “good” and superior whilst the ethnic minorities are seen as “evil” and inferior (i.e the white and black knights)

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Do some Ethnic minorities do better in school?

Yes, some ethnic minorities do better than the average in education. Reasons for this could be:

Teacher stereotyping: Some teachers might stereotype some ethnic minorities (such as Chinese and Indian) to be intelligent and hard-working. This can bring with it all the benefits high teacher expectations bring

Family Life – Research has shown that some parents of ethnic minority, such as Chinese and Indian, take more interest in their child’s education, they also encourage their child more than other in other cultures. This obviously leads to higher achievement for the child

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What are the 4 types of data?

Qualitative- involves opinions and values. Favoured by interpretivists. 

Quantitative- Numerical data. Favoured by positivists. 

Primary Data- collecting new data that hasn't been collected before and for the researchers purpose ie Surveys

Secondary data- collected old data that has been available before and has been collected by someone else ie official statistics 

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What is Sampling, as a research method?

Selecting respondents to carry out research:

Random Sampling- everyone has an equal chance of being selected. However a large sample is needed. But this is the most representative form of sampling. 

Stratified Sampling- population divided based on variables such as sex. You need a sampling frame. You only need a small sample

*********** Sampling- members put researcher in touch with possible respondents. Not representative. Good for groups that are hard to identify 

Opportunity Sampling- people put themselves forward and those who are easily accessible. Cant generalise. However it is the easiest, cheapest and quickest. 

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The types of surveys & questionnaires? Pos&Negs

  • Face to face surveys provide a high response rate, however can have interviewer bias and be time consuming. 
  • Telephone surveys are cheap and easy to do, however response rates aren't good.
  • Postal questionnaires are cheap and easy as well however the response rates aren't representative and they tend to generalize. 
  • Internet surveys are cheap, quick to make and recieve results. Responses are limited to those who have internet access.
  • Fixed Questionnaires mean that respondents are restricted to limited answers ie Yes or No. It provides Quantitative data and is reliable. However you cannot get qualitative data. 
  • Open Questionnaires allow respondents to provide their own response. They provide detailed data however are time consuming and can have an interviewer bias.

People may act differently (Hawthorne Effect) data can be inaccurate in all types of Surveys and Q's. 

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How are Interviews used as research methods? Pos&N

  • Structured Interviews- pre determined set of questions. Easy to replicate and compare, less chance of interview bias. However, lack of detail and hard to find out more.
  • Semi-structured Interviews- there are some fixed questions. Researchers influence the route of the interview to provide clearer answers. There is a problem however with the reliability of the answers. 
  • Unstructured Interviews- there are few or even no fixed questions. Researcher directs the interview, hard to replicate the same questions, therefore unreliable. Can also be time consuming and interviewer may go off track. 
  • Individual Interviews- less time consuming to undertake, however an interviewer cannot properly observe interaction. 
  • Group Interview- closer to real life and therefore more representative however group opinions may sway personal opinions and influence, therefore creating strange results. 

Vailidity can be affected. However larger sample groups can be used. Interprevists favour it. 

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Observation as a research method?

  • Participant Observation is overt, researcher can ask questions. However it is difficult to become full participant and research group may not want to be observed. 
  • Non Participant Observation is covert, respondents are not aware of the researcher. Though they do tend to act more naturally, it is difficult to access some groups and this method can be considered unethical. 
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Longitudinal Study as research method?

Study of the same people over a long period of time:

  • Long term comitment, sample size can affect vailidity. Views and data collected may not change much/ be of much interest. 
  • Look over process for long time, become familiar with subjects/task. Data collected is valid 
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What are Secondary sources of data?

They are documents, diaries and official statistics. Qualitative. 

  • They allow insight into peoples lives
  • Cheaper, quicker to access than other data
  • Allow someone to study the past
  • May not be reliable 
  • May not be for the researchers purpose (may not be relevant)
  • May not be representative, may be untruthful or biased. May be unreliable 
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Milgram Experiment 1974?

  • Generally, its considered wrong to mislead people as to the nature of a study
  • S Milgram did lie to his participants in his studies of obedience to authority 
  • Told participants they were assisting in an experiment on learning 
  • they were instructed by the researcher to administer electric shocks when the learner failed to answer questions correctly
  • Can be considered as incredibly unethical 
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