Role of Education

  • Created by: rosiel05
  • Created on: 20-01-23 12:58

Emile Durkheim - Functionalism

  • Foundling father of sociology
  • Looked at the function/role of education system and its contribution to social order

The role of the education system is two fold:

  • Social solidarity (the level to which people are integrated into their society)
  • Teaching of knowledge and specialist skills

Durkheim said the role of school is to socialise pupils into a wider culture. The school is an institution of secondary socialisation. It passes on our collective norms and values. This is crucial if social order is to be maintained, we must not pursue our own selfish ends.

Specialist skills:

  • Industrial economies have complex division of labour
  • Maintains co-operation and social order
  • Schools teach specialist skills so individuals can play their part in division of labour
  • Schools prepare us through vocational training
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Talcott Parsons - Functionalism

Argues that the school should treat everyone the same - that is meritocratic

Meritocracy - that success is based on individual merit, your natural ability and your prepardness to work hard

School is focal secondary institution of socialisation. It is the bridge betweebn family and wider society.

Within the family, the child is judged by particularistic standards (rules apply only to that child) and the childs status is ascribed (fixed by birth). By contrast, both school and wider society judge us all by the same universalistic and impersonal standards. For example, the laws apply to everyone.

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Wilbur Moore and Kingsley Davis - Functionalism

  • Wrote about role allocation
  • Job of education system is to sort people into job roles based on ability
  • Renumberation should reward the most useful and able
    • this process begins in school
  • They focus on relationship between education and social inequality
  • Inequality in society is required so that the immportant roles are filled by most talented
  • Not everyone is equally talented, so society needs to offer higher rewards for higher jobs
    • This will encourage everyone to compete for these jobs and society can select the most talented individuals
  • Education has key role as it acts as a proving ground for ability
    • Education 'sifts' and 'sorts' us according to ability
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Functionalism Evaluation

Education system doesn't teach specialised skills like Durkheim claims

  • Wolf review of vocational education (2011) claims that high quality apprenticeships are rare
  • Up to a third of 16-19 year olds are on courses that don't lead to high education or good jobs

Functionalists see education as a process that informs us of the shared values of society as a whole, but Marxists argue that education in capitalist society only transmits the ideology of a minority

The interactionist Dennis Wrong (1961) argues that functionalists have an 'over-socialised view' of people as mere puppets of society. Functionalists wrongly imply that pupils passively accept all they are taught and never reject the schools values.

Neoliberals and the New Right argue that the state education system fails to prepare young people adequately for work

Functionalists draw our attention to the positive role of schools. Benefit individuals and society as a whole

Meritocracy is a myth

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The New Right and Neo-liberal perspective

Similarities between New Right and Functionalism

  • Natural ability
  • Structural theory
  • Education is meritocratic
  • Education should promote a value consensus
  • The school should meet the needs of industry

The New Right say:

  • Education system failing
  • Schools should be independent
  • Parents should be treated as consumers
  • Schools should be in competition with each other
  • Businesses should have an ACTIVE voice in policy making
  • Individuals have agency and make RATIONAL DECISIONS

The New Right are advocats of marketisation

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John Chubb and Terry Moe - New Right

  • Schools were not creating equal opportunity
  • Were not giving students the skills needed for the economy
  • Private schools produce better results as they were accountable to paying customers

Chubb and Moe went and compared their arguments on 60 000 pupils from low-income families in 1015 state and private American high schools. They found pupils from low-income families consistently do about 5% better in private schools. They found this out with parent surveys and introduced a market system in state education that would put control in the hands of the consumers. This would help to shape schools in order to meet their own needs and improve quality and efficiency.

Two roles for the state:

  • The state must provide a FRAMEWORK within which educational institutions operate
    • eg publish results, be open to government inspections, publish a prospectus
  • Secondly the institution must transmit a shared British culture
    • eg PSHE, British Values, history etc
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New Right Evaluation

  • Gewirtz (1995) and Ball (1994) both argue that competition between schools benefits the middle class who can use their cultural and economic capital to gain access to more desireable schools
  • Critics argue that the real cause of low educational standards is not state control but social inequality and inadequate funding of state schools
  • There is a contradiction between the New Rights support for parental choice on the one hand and the state imposing a compulsory national curriculum on all its schools on the other
  • Marxists argue that education does not impose a shared national culture, as the New Right claim, but imposes the culture of a dominant minority ruling class and devalues the culture of the working class and ethnic minorities
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Louis Althusser - Marxist

Althusser came up with the repressive state apparatuses (RSAs) and the ideological state apparatuses (ISAs)

RSAs maintain the rule of the bourgeoisie by force or the threat of it. Include the police, courts and army. They use physical coercion to repress the working class.

ISAs maintain the rule of the bourgeoisie by controlling people's ideas, values and beliefs. Include religion, the media and the education system

Althusser argued:

  • Meritocracy is an ideologcial construct, it is a myth
  • Education system has two functions
    • to transmit bourgeois ideology
    • to legitimise working class failure
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Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis - Marxist

  • Highlighted the use of 'hidden curriculum' to socialise/indoctrinate pupils into having the 'right kind of attitude' conformist - ready to take their place up in capitalism
  • They studied 237 schools in New York and found that teachers were much quicker to reward conformist behaviour

Correspondence principle is the idea that school processes mirror the world of work in order to prepare them for manual labour. For example lack of control, obedience, boredom, discipline and more.

Hierarchy of authority among teachers and between teachers and students reflects hierarchy of authority in the workplace.

Alientation through students' lack of control over education reflects alienation through workers' lack of control over producation.

Extrinsic satisfaction from grades rather than from interest in the subjects studied reflects extrinsic satisfaction from pay rather than from doing the job itself

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Bowles and Gintis - Marxist (part two)

Fragmentation and compartmentalisation of knowledge into unconnected subjects reflects fragmentation of work through the division of labour into small, meaningless tasks.

The 'hidden curriculum' is the idea that we learn different things in school without being taught directly. For example, simply through the everyday workings of the schools, pupils become accustomed to accepting hierarchy and competition, working for extrinsic rewards and so on.

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