Paper 1: EOY Section A sociology revision

  • Created by: Sonishh
  • Created on: 05-06-21 11:07

(INTERNAL FACTOR) 1. Teacher pupil relationships

Howard Becker (1970s)   

Labeling and the Ideal Pupil:

  • argued that middle-class teachers have idea of an ‘ideal pupil’ that is middle class. 
  • This pupil speaks in elaborated speech code, is polite, and smartly dressed
  • argued that middle-class teachers are likely to view middle-class pupils more positively than working-class pupils irrespective of their intelligence.
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(CA) (INTERNAL FACTOR) 1. Teacher pupil relations

Rosenthal and Jacobsen:

  • argued that positive teacher labeling can lead to self-fulfilling prophecy
  • where student believes the label is given to them and the label becomes true in practice.
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(INTERNAL FACTOR) 2. Pupil Subculture

Willis (1977):

  • research involved visiting one school and observing and interviewing 12 working-class rebellious boys about attitude to school
  • ---> during their last 18 months at school and during their first few months at work. 
  • Willis described friendship between these 12 boys as a  counter-school culture. 
  • Their value system is opposed to that of the school. 
  • The boys attached no value to academic work
  • ----> more to ‘having a laff'
  • because they thought their future work roles in factories would not require them any qualifications. 
  • saw school as irrelevant. 
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(CA) (INTERNAL FACTOR) 2. Pupil Subculture

Mac and Gail:

Study of Parnell School (1994):

- Found there was a greater variety of working-class subcultures than Willis’ research suggested.

- found three types of subculture :

  • The Macho Lads – just like Willis’ Lads 
  • The Academic Achievers – these were working-class kids who were doing well and tended to  come from the upper end of the working classes 
  • The New Enterprisers – these focused on vocational subjects and were interested in business and technology – were still concerned with success rather than rejecting school. 
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(INTERNAL FACTOR) 3. Organisation of Teaching and

Organization of Teaching and Learning

Stephen Ball (1980s):

Banding and Streaming disadvantage the working classes and some minority groups -

  • found that following comprehensivization working-class children were more  likely to be put into lower sets 
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(SA) (INTERNAL FACTOR) 3. Organisation of Teachin

Organisation of Teaching and Learning

Bourdieu :

  • argues that schools are middle-class environments full of teachers with middle-class values and tastes.
  • has been argued that absence of working-class teachers with their distinct accents and dialects means that teachers fail to relate to working class children
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Academic Achievement: Class & Gender

Class and gender-

Boys from different class backgrounds experience school differently .

  • Working class boys generally under pressure to express traditional anti-school masculinities 
  • Middle class boys more likely to try hard at school
  • ----> expressing their masculinity through  being competitive in examinations 
  • However, middle-class boys still feel some pressure to be seen not to be making an effort in school. 
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AA- Material Dep & Social Class

Material Deprivation and Social class differences in educational achievement

Gibson and Asthana (1999):

  • said there is correlation between low household income and poor educational performance.
  • There are number of ways where poverty can negatively affect educational performance of children.
  • For example -  

1. Higher levels of sickness in poorer homes mean more absence from school and falling  behind with lessons 

2. Less able to afford ‘hidden costs’ of free state education: books and toys are not bought, and  computers are not available in the home 

3. Poorer parents are less likely to have access to preschool or nursery facilities, 

4. Tuition fees and loans would be a greater source of anxiety to those from poorer backgrounds

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(SE) importance of material deprivation

Supporting evidence for the importance of material deprivation 

Stephen Ball (2005)

  • points out how introduction of marketization means those who have more money have a greater choice of state schools because of selection by mortgage
  • Conner et al (2001) and Forsyth and Furlong (2003): found that introduction of  tuition fees in HE* puts working-class children off going to university because of fear of debt
  • Leon Feinstein (2003) found that low income is related to low cognitive reasoning skills  amongst children as young as two years old 
  • The existence of private schools means the wealthy can afford a better education. Children  from private schools are over-represented in the best universities 
  • *Higher Education
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Eval: of the role of material deprivation

Evaluations of the role of material deprivation

  • To say that poverty causes poor educational performance is too deterministic as some students from poor backgrounds do well.
  • rather than say there is a causal relationship between these two variables as the question suggests, it would be more accurate to say that poverty disadvantages working-class students and makes it more difficult for them to succeed. 
  • There are other differences between classes that may lead to working-class underachievement.
  • E.G: those from working class are not just materially deprived, they are also culturally deprived. 
  • Cultural Capital of the middle classes also advantages them in education.
  • In practice it is difficult to separate out material deprivation from these other factors.
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AA- Cultural Dep & Social Class

Cultural deprivation and Social class differences in educational achievement 

  • lots of research indicated class subcultures influence educational achievement.
  • All of the studies below suggest working-class cultures are deficient and working-class children are deprived as a result.
  • These explanations thus put blame for working-class underachievement on working-class families themselves.
  • In these explanations, working-class parents teach their children norms and values that do not equip them for education in later life.  
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2-AA- Cultural Dep & Social Class

Five ways in which cultural deprivation can disadvantage children in education 

1. Working class parents may show lack of interest in child's education 

2. Lower class parents less able to help child with homework 

3. Lower-class children more likely to speak in restricted speech code. Rather than the elaborated speech code- Basil Bernstein argued this. 

4. Working-class children more concerned with Immediate Gratification rather than deferred gratification – Barry Sugarman argued this. 

5. underclass has higher than average percentage of single-parent families. Melanie  Philips argued this.

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(SE) for Cultural Deprivation

Supporting evidence for cultural deprivation theory – two studies that show cultural  and material deprivation are related 

Connor et al (2001)                                                                      *Further Education

  • conducted focus group interviews with 230 students from 4 different FE colleges from a range of class backgrounds, some of whom had chosen to go to university and some who had not chosen to go to University.
  • WC pupils discouraged from going to uni for three main reasons:

a. Firstly, such candidates want ‘immediate gratification’. want to earn money and be  independent at an earlier age. This is because they are aware of their parents having struggled for  money and wish to avoid debt themselves 

b. Secondly, they realise that their parents cannot afford to support them during Higher Education  and did not like the possibility of them getting into debt 

c. Thirdly, they have less confidence in their ability to succeed in HE.

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2- (SE) for Cultural Deprivation

Research by Leon Fenstein

  • found that low income was related to the restricted speech code.
  • research revealed children of working-class parents tend to be more passive; less engaged in the world around them and have more limited vocabulary.
  • Children from middle-class households had wider vocabulary, better understanding of how to talk to others and were more skilled at  manipulating objects. 
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Eval: of cultural deprivation theory

Evaluations of cultural deprivation theory: 

  • If we look at ethnicity and gender differences in achievement – to triangulate, it does seem that cultural factors play a role! 
  • seems that it isn’t just cultural deprivation but also material deprivation that explains  underachievement 
  • Marxists would argue cultural deprivation theorists blame working class parents for the  underachievement of their children
  • infact WC parents are victims of an unequal society where schools are run by the middle classes for the middle classes
  • ----> victim blaming
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AA- Cultural Capital and Social Class

Cultural Capital and Social class differences in educational achievement

  • some sociologists say:
  • the cause of lower-class failure is the very existence of inequality itself in society and differences in power held by the working and middle classes.
  • Cultural Capital: refers to skills and knowledge middle class parents have that they can use to give their children an advantage in the education system. 
  • Social Capital: is support and information provided by contacts and social networks which can be converted into educational success and material rewards. 
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2-AA- Cultural Capital and Social Class

Cultural Capital and Social class differences in educational achievement  

Three ways in which middle-class parents use their cultural capital 

  • Middle-class parents are better educated and are more able to help their children with  homework 
  • Middle-class parents are more skilled in researching schools 
  • Middle-class parents teach their children the value of deferred gratification 

Two ways in which middle-class parents use their social capital 

  • They speak to parents of children who already attend the best schools 
  • They are more likely to know professionals who work in the best schools 
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(SE) importance of cultural capital

Supporting evidence for the importance of cultural capital 

Diane Reay (1988) -

  • Mothers make cultural capital work for their children.
  • research based on mothers of 33 children at two London primary schools.
  • mothers of working-class children worked just as hard as middle-class mothers.
  • But cultural capital of MC mothers gave their children an advantage. 
  • Middle-Class Mothers had more educational qualifications and more information about how educational system worked.
  • They used this cultural capital to help their children with homework,  bolstering their confidence and sorting out problems with teachers. 
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2-(SE) importance of Cultural Capital

Stephen Ball:

  • argues that government policies of choice and competition place middle class at an advantage.
  • Ball refers to middle-class parents as ‘skilled choosers’.
  • Compared to working-class parents (disconnected choosers) they are more comfortable with dealing with public institutions like schools, they are more used to extracting and assessing information.
  • They use social networks to talk to parents whose children are attending schools on offer and they are more used to dealing with and negotiating with administrators and teachers.
  • As a result, if entry to a school is limited, they are more likely to gain a place for their child. 
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Eval: of the role of Cultural Capital

The role of Cultural Capital – Evaluations 

  • Cultural capital has proved difficult to operationalize and measure 
  • However, more and more research suggests this is important in explaining middle class  success and working class failure 
  • Helps to explain why Middle classes always do better despite compensatory education 
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Functionalists- Education

  • Functionalists focus on positive functions performed by education system. 


There are four  positive functions that education performs :

1. Creating social solidarity 

2. Teaching skills necessary for work 

3. Teaching us core values 

4. Role Allocation and meritocracy 

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(Func) 1. Creating Social Solidarity

1. Creating Social Solidarity 

  • We have social solidarity when we feel as if we are part of something bigger. 

  • Durkheim argued that school makes us feel like we are part of something bigger.

  •  This is done through the learning of subjects such as history and English which give us a shared sense of identity. 

  • Also in American schools, children pledge allegiance to the flag. 

  • Durkheim argued that ‘school is a society in miniature’ preparing us for life in wider society.

  •  E.G: both in school and at work we have to cooperate with people who are neither friends nor family – which gets us ready for dealing with people at work in later life. 

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(Func) 2. Learning specialist skills for work.

2. Learning specialist skills for work.  

  • Durkheim noted that an advanced industrial economy required a massive and complex Division of  Labour*

  • At school, individuals learn the diverse skills necessary for this to take place. 

  • E.G:  we may all start off learning the same subjects, but later on, we specialize when we do GCSEs. 

*The organization of work in society.

Eg: even in a factory, which makes cars, each worker has a different job with a different skill.

Durkheim pointed out that this is more complex in industrial than in peasant societies.

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(Func) 3. Teaching us core values

3. Teaching us core values 

  • Talcott Parsons argued that education acts as ‘focal socializing agency’ in modern society. 

  • School plays central role in the process of secondary socialization, taking over from primary socialization.  

  • argued this was necessary because family and wider society work in different principles and children need to adapt if they are to cope In wider world. 

  • In the family, children are judged according to what he calls particularistic standards by parents – they are judged by rules that only apply to that particular child. 

  • Individual children given tasks based on different abilities and judged according to unique characteristics. 

  •  Parents often adopt rules to suit unique abilities of child. 

  • In contrast, in school and in wider society, children and adults judged according to the same universalistic standards (i.e they are judged by the same exams and the same laws).

  •  These rules and laws are applied equally to all people irrespective of unique character of individual.  

  • School gets us ready for this. 

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(Func) 4. Role Allocation and meritocracy

4. Role Allocation and meritocracy 

  • Education allocates people to most appropriate job for their talents using examinations and qualifications. 

  • This ensures that most talented are allocated to occupations that are most important for society.

  •  This is seen to be fair because there is equality of opportunity – everyone has a  chance of success and it is the ablest who succeed through their own efforts – this is known as  meritocracy 

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Eval: Strength- Functionalist View on Education

Positive evaluations of the Functionalist  view on education

  • Identifies education as an integral part of social structure.
  • All governments  since WW2 have recognized the importance  of education 
  • Advanced industrial economies  would probably not function without  education – universities have become  more specialized over time 
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Eval: Weak- Functionalist View on Education

Negative Evaluations of Functionalism  (Criticisms)

  • Today, schools focus more on developing  individual rather than teaching duties and  responsibilities that individuals should adopt towards  society – its more about the individual and less  about solidarity 
  • Marxists argue that education is really about  transmitting values of the ruling classes 
  • Research on class and education shows us  that role allocation is not meritocratic 
  • Those that fail at school do not feel as if they  belong, and thus reject values of the school,  forming subcultures (especially true for working-class  pupils)
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Traditional Marxist- Education

Traditional Marxists see education system as working in the interests of ruling class elites.

The  education system performs three functions for these elites: 

  • 1.) Reproduces class inequality. 
  • 2.) Legitimates class inequality. 
  • 3.) Works in the interests of capitalist employers
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(T Marx) 1. The reproduction of class inequality

1. The reproduction of class inequality 

  • In school, middle classes use their material and cultural capital to ensure that their children get into best schools and top sets.
  • This means that wealthier pupils tend to get best  education and then go onto to get middle-class jobs.
  • Meanwhile, working-class children are more likely to get poorer standard of education and end up in working-class jobs.
  • In this way class inequality is  reproduced 
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(T Marx) 2.The Legitimisation of class inequality

2. The Legitimisation of class inequality 

  • Marxists argue that in reality money determines how good an education you get
  • but people don't realize this because schools spread the ‘myth of meritocracy’
  • ----–> in school we learn that we all have equal chance to succeed and that our grades depend on our effort and ability.
  • Thus if we fail, we believe it is our own fault.
  • This legitimates or justifies the system because we think it is fair when in reality it is not. 
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(T Marx) 3. Teaching the skills future capitalist

3. Teaching the skills future capitalist employers need 

  • In ‘Schooling in Capitalist America’ (1976)
  • Bowles and Gintis : suggest there is correspondence between values learnt at school and the way in which the workplace operates.
  • values, they suggested, are taught through ‘Hidden Curriculum’.
  • Hidden Curriculum consists of those things that pupils learn through experience of attending school rather than main curriculum subjects taught at the school.
  • So pupils learn those values that are necessary for  them to do menial manual jobs, as outlined below 

Acceptance of hierarchy (authority of teachers)---->Authority of managers

Motivation by external rewards (grades not learning)----> Motivated by wages not the joy of the job

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Eval: Strength- Traditional Marxism


  • There is an overwhelming wealth of evidence that  schools do reproduce class inequality because the  middle classes do much better in education because
  • They have more cultural capital (Reay)
  • The 1988 Education Act benefitted them (Ball  Bowe and Gewirtz)
  • WC children less likely to go to university  because of fear of debt (Connor et al)
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Eval: Weak- Traditional Marxism


  • Henry Giroux - theory is too deterministic.
  • -----> Argues that working-class pupils  are not entirely molded by the capitalist system,  and do not accept everything that they are taught  
  • Education can actually harm the Bourgeois  – many left-wing, Marxist activists are university-educated
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Neo-Marxism: Paul Willis- Education

Neo-Marxism: Paul Willis: - Learning to Labour (1977)

  • Willis’ research involved visiting one school and observing and interviewing 12 working-class rebellious boys about their attitude to school during last 18 months at school and during first few months at work. 
  • argues pupils rebelling are evidence that not all pupils are brainwashed into being  passive, subordinate people as a result of the hidden curriculum. 
  • Willis therefore criticizes Traditional Marxism.
  • says that pupils are not directly injected with values and norms that benefit the ruling class, some actively reject these.
  • These pupils also realize they have no real opportunity to succeed in this system. 
  • BUT, Willis still believes that this counter-school culture still produces workers who are easily exploited by future employers: 
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(Neo Marx) Counter School Culture

The Counter School Culture 

  • Willis described friendship between these 12 boys (or the lads) as a counter-school culture.
  • Their value system as opposed to that of the school. This value system was characterized as followed: 

1. lads felt superior to the teachers and other pupils 

2. attached no value to academic work, more to ‘having a laff’ 

3. objective for school was to miss as many lessons as possible, the reward for this was status within group 

4. time they were at school was spent trying to win control over their time and make it their own. 

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(Neo Marx) CSC- Attitudes to future work

Counter School Culture: Attitudes to future work 

  • They looked forward to paid manual work after leaving school and identified
  • all non-school activities (smoking, going out) with this adult world, and valued such activities far more than schoolwork. 
  • lads believed that manual work was proper work, and type of jobs that hard-working pupils would get was all the same and pointless. 
  • Their counter-school culture was also strongly sexist. 
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Eval: Willis (Neo-Marxism)

Evaluations of Willis 

  • Very small sample of only working-class white boys 
  • Overly sympathetic with the boys – going native?
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