Education- Key Studies

  • Created by: RubyNiamh
  • Created on: 12-07-18 11:01


  • Ball carried out a paricipant observation on the experience of schooling in a southern comprehensive school
  • Describes a school in the process of change
  • Raises questions about the selection and socialisation experienced by two cohorts moving through the school, one banded by ability and the other taught in mixed ability classes.
  • Similar to Colin Lacey’s 'Hightown Grammar' and David Hargreaves 'Social Relations in a Secondary School' 
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Ball, Bowe and Gerwitz

  • It was a study carried out on 15 different schools  in neighbouring LEAs with different population profiles (e.g class and ethnicity)
  • Evaluates impact of parental choice and publication of school league tables
  • Example: The pressure to introduce streaming and setting, and the tendency to focus on more academically able pupils
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Bowles and Gintis

  • Marxist Perspective
  • Believe main role of education in capitalist society is to produce the future workforce
  • Argure that there is close correspondence between the social relationships which govern interactions in the workplace and the social interactions in the education system
  • Example: Creation of obedient workforce, who are too divided to challenge authority
  • Reject the view that capitalist society is meritocratic and believe that class is the most important factor of how your position in society is determined
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  • Functionalist Perspective
  • Saw the main function of education as teaching the social norms and values
  • Believes it is a vital task for all societies to weld individuals into a 'united whole'
  • The teaching of history is a way to help children learn that they are part of something larger than themselves
  • Believes school also teaches children to cooperate with people who are neither kin nor their friends
  • Believes rules should be strictly enforced so children learn self discipline and that misbehaviour in society will be punished
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Halsey, Heath and Ridge

  • From a sample of over 8,000 males born between 1913 and 1952 they found evidence of clear class inequalities in education. The sample was divided into three main groups (based on the father’s occupation): The service class (professionals, administrators and managers), The intermediate class (clerical or sales workers, the self-employed and lower grade technicians and foremen), The working class including manual workers in industry and agriculture.

  • Found that an individual from the service class, as compared to one from the working class, had four times as great a chance of being at school at 16, eight times the chance at 17 and ten times the chance at 18.

  • The chance of an individual from the service class attending university was eleven times greater than one from the working class. It should be noted that the research excluded females and this might have made a significant difference to the findings.

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  • Functionalist Perspective
  • School acts as a bridge between education and society and takes over as the main socialisaton agent
  • Schools work on a meritocratic basis
  • Parsons believed that an individual is judged on universalistic standards, applied to all members regardless of kinship ties
  • Believes schools socialise children into basic values of wider society, learning values about working hard and achievement
  • Parsons theory has been criticised by other sociologists who say that values and socialisation taught in schools are just an illusion for maintaining a capitalist society
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  • Marxist Perspective
  • Focused on conflict within the education system
  • Rejects the view that there is a direct relationship between the economy and way the education system operates
  • Believes education can have unintended consequences
  • Willis carried out observations in a school, where he attempted to understand the experience of school from a pupils point of view
  • He discovered a certain amount of people conforming to an anti- school subculture, who felt superior to teachers and conforming pupils. 
  • Even though this study was carried out in the seventies, some of the ideas are still relevant today
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