Sociology - Edu Theory




- social solidarity - a society in miniature. We have social solidarity when we feel as if we are part of something bigger. Emile 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. 

- specialist skills - everyone specialized in a certain skill & gets good at that (GCSE's).


- meritocracy = everyone has an equal chance to achieve. School socializes pupils - acts as a bridge between the family and wider society. Particularistic standards & Universalistic standards.

David & Moore 

- role allocation & human capital = The school performs the function of allocating and selecting pupils for their future work roles, based on their academic achievement they allocate the most talented people to the most important roles. Human capital - the use of the worker's skills to keep the economy going.

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- ISA - controlling peoples ideas, beliefs and values. RSA - controlling people through power and control through force of the threat of it eg. police and army. 

- reproduces & legitimates class inequality by transmitting it to the next generation and by persuading WC to accept their subordinate position - indoctrinate. 

Bowles & Gintis 

- correspondence principle and hidden curriculum - parallels between work and school, taught to accept the hierarchy, subjects, competition and rewards. 'long shadow of work', Marxists want an obedient workforce who don't question it and accept the alienating work and low pay n hard work. 

- myth of meritocracy - if the WC realize they are being exploited they will rebel - so if they say the school is meritocratic then they will believe it's their own fault they failed. (isn't really tho)

- Willis - the lads who aren't passive and accept the capitalistic views - they go against the obedient WC culture & create an anti-school culture, however, they remain in the WC state & jobs due to the norms and values of the subculture reflect the WC.  

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New Right

Chubb & Moe

Consumer Choice

- don't like the state running education, they believe we need an education market to force schools to respond to parents wishes 

- a voucher system that gives a certain amount of money to every parent to spend on whatever school they wish their child to go to. 

similar to functionalists views, however, don't think that the current education system meets society's needs. 

Two roles of the state: 

1. public league tables & OFSTED so parents can asses the schools against each other (competition)

2. set a national curriculum & transmit a shared cultural identity.

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Education Policies 1.0

The Butler Act (1944) - Tripartite System

- Grammer school, Secondary Modern school, Technical school. 

- 11+ exam decided which school you would go to (attempt to be meritocratic) 

Criticisms - biased towards MC values and norms, girls needed higher marks, an ability not created yet due to only being 11, MC could get tutoring to help them & manipulate schools.

Comprehensive school system (1965)

- a school for everyone aimed to abolish the class inequality and divide of the 11+, state-run.

- Criticisms = Marxists argue streaming and labelling promoted inequality & it happened in comprehensive schools within the state schools, therefore, WC & MC still divided. 

- Functionalists say that it is more meritocratic due to everyone being in the same school and can excel.

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Education Policies 2.0 - Marketisation

The Education Reform Act (1988) - Conservative Government - creating consumer choice and competition by reducing state control. Creating parentocracy to promote choice and raise standards. 


  • league tables - comparing schools against each other/rating
  • national curriculum - everyone does the same curriculum
  • OFSTED - inspecting schools
  • funding formula - money per pupil in the school
  • tuition fees for uni - made it compulsory to pay for uni
  • open enrolment - recruit more pupils into schools

Criticisms = 

- Gewirtz - privileged skilled chooser, MC parents have a choice - Local choosers, WC have no money - semi-skilled choosers, WC no money but care. Another one is geographical location.

- Barlett - Cream skimming & Silt shifting - schools pick the best, schools avoid taking bad pupils. Gillbourn& Youdell - A - C economy - 3 different cases. Ball - Myth of Parentocracy.

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Education Policies 3.0 - New Labour

New Labour (1997)

- aimed to reduce inequalities made in marketisation (by the conservatives). 


  • EMA - educational maintenace allowence for poorer pupils.
  • Aime higher programme - raise aspirations of younger children (sure start & head start).
  • EAZ - education action zones - pump money into poor areas.
  • attending schools was made compulsory up to 18. 
  • increased university fees.

Criticisms = New Labour Paradox - by introducing EMA's, however, they increased university fees. The policies contradicted each other.

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Education Policies 4.0 - Coalition

Coalition Government 

New right ideologies - don't want the state to run anything. 


  • academies - moving away from local authorities & state funding, businesses control.
  • free schools - controlled by parents, business and anyone who wanted to set up a school.
  • pupil premium - schools get extra money for each poor student to give them extra resources.
  • increased tuition for unis - 9,000.

Criticisms = 

- fragmentation of schools - meaning that every school is different and all joined together in different ways - inequality. 

- centralization - government control and not LA control, this reduces knowing what the pupils/people actually want, due to the government being so centralized. 

- EMA abolished, tuition fees increased so how is that reducing inequality, 60% sure start shut down.

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Education Policies 5.0 - Privatisation

Schools are moving to private companies

- Exogenous (outside schools)

- Endogenous (inside schools)

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Class Differences

External factors 

Cultural Deprivation

  • Language - 1. speech codes (Bernsiten)
  • Parents education - 2. use of income (Bernstein and Young),  3. parents education behaviours (douglas)
  • 4. Working class subculture (Sugarman) Fatalism, collectivism, immediate gratification, present time orientation.

5. Material Deprivation

  • Housing
  • Diet and Health
  • Financial support and cost of education

6. Cultural Capital (Bourdieu)

Cultural/economic/educational capital, all join together to create each other

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Class Differences

Internal Factors

Labelling (Becker) ideal pupil in their mind, which is MC and go around that. Risks labelling in primary schools, 'tigers' and the 'clowns'.

The SFP (Rosenthal & Jacobson) tested a high school and gave random 20% of the year group a 'spurter' label, and 47% of those achieved better than everyone else who was not labelled positively.

Streaming (A-C economy, Gillbourn and Youdell) 11+, educational triage, those who will pass anyway, borderline C/D pupils. hopeless cases...

Subcultures Lacey - polarisation (pupils response to streaming) & differentiation (teachers doing it). Pro school subculture (high-class streaming, MC) & Anti-school subculture (low-class streaming, WC) Willis.

Habitus - Archer, symbolic violence. 

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Class Differences (extra)

Pupil class identities and school (Archer et al)

Habitus - the way a school runs, acting and being are shared by a particular social class, tastes preferences about lifestyles, linked to Bourdieu Cultural capital

Symbolic capital and symbolic violence - Gaining capital if you were MC, because you fit the MC habitus, whereas WC doesn't have it, therefore, violence occurs and they are inferior it all reproduces the lower class.

WC identity & educational success - Ingram argues that WC has a strong belonging in their own culture, 

Nike Identities (Archer et al)

Gaining status somewhere, so they would use Nike as a way to, style was policed by peers and you would have to wear the right dress code in an MC habitus, therefore, the WC would come out as rebels. Higher education, unrealistic because it was not for people like us and undesirable because it doesn't suit their prefered lifestyle.

Class identity and self-exclusion 

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Ethnic Differences

External Factors

Cultural Deprivation

1. Language - (Engelmann) black parents not adequate English for educational success.

2. Attitudes & Values - fatalistic (Sugarman), 'live for today' and does not value education.

3. Family structure & support - Lupton asian families like school, and black pupils have low self asteem and underachieve. Sewell (blackboys) not a lack of a father, lack of toughlove.

Material Deprivation

4. Guy Palmer - low-income houses and unemployment from parents (racial discrimination in the workforce), Bangladeshi under $7 an hour, compared with only a quarter of British workers.

5. Racism in wider society (Mason) - discrimination leads to social exclusion for the ethnic minority. Wood ETAL says 1,000 job vacancies 1in16 EM people employed over 1in9 people from white.

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Ethnic Differences

Internal Factors

1. Labelling (Gilbourn and Youdell) - racialised expectations of black students, disciplined harsher for them and immediate isolation/exclusion whereas white pupil wouldn't get this treatment. the act behaviour is not that bad its the racial stereotypes teachers hold. found their behaviour threatening.

2. Pupil Identities Archer 3 ways: ideal pupil, pathologised pupil, demonised pupil.

3. Pupil Responses and 4. Subcultures: Fuller, girls rejected the label and teachers and did work BTS. Mirza, getting on with their work, ignoring the effect of teachers, but failed cuz of restricting their opportunities. Sewell boys responses, the rebels, the conformists, the retreatists, the innovators.

5. Ethnocentric curriculum: (Ball) all the curriculum is mainly UK based people, British history etc, therefore, fail because they don't know about the history. Troyna & Williams: English language is spoken and taught. Music.

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Ethnic Differences (extra)

Critical Race Theory:

Locked in-equality: Gillbourn, so deep within the education system. Marketisation, more selection procedures lead t ethic segregation. 

Ethnocentric Curriculum (Ball) - history of English people not Indian or black. Troyna & Williams- always English language only a few other choices of French, Spanish. 

Assessments - Gillbourn they are rigged to valid dominant cultures superiority. New exam to do if the black comes out on top, always re-engineering failure.

Access to opportunities - gifted and talented no black got this white half the amount of black to be gifted. Exam tiers, blacks always put in lower tier due to the set they are in, from the label.

The new IQism - teachers make false assumptions about the potential or ability a pupil has. basic tests to identify which set, stream and 'potential' they have is not correct, no one can measure potential. Due to behaviour etc, is why they in the bottom stream - leads to a lot of problems.

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Gender Differences

External Factors

  • 1. impact of feminism - feminists GIST & WISE
  • 2. changes in the family structure - lone/separated families
  • 3. changes in women's employment - equal pay act
  • 4. girls changing ambition - sharpes study, on 1970's & 1990's difference
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Gender Differences

Internal Factors

  • Role models in schools
  • teacher attention - Swann
  • stereotypes in the curriculum - Weiner
  • GCSE and coursework  - Browne
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Gender Differences (extra)

Boys + Achievement 

The globalisation of traditional jobs - decline in jobs for boys, industrial work went off to China/India for low wages. No jobs for WC, only an incentive to get an education to get MC jobs.

Shortage of male primary school teachers -no 'father figure' in school, 42% said they would work harder with a male teacher.

Boys + literacy - boys don't read with fathers and are encouraged to play sports

Does the gender gap matter? 2/3 7-8 year olds said they don't care about the gender of the teacher. Women do it anyway, disciplinarian discourse/liberal discourse = READ.

Moral Panic - all boy are failing Ringrose says WC boy especially will suffer from this due to being poor and threatening to society.  Then ignores girls, harassment and WC ethnicities. 

Laddish subcultures  - Francis - real boys don't work otherwise you're called 'gay'.

Feminisation of education - Sewell argues coursework in favour of girls and female traits are more acceptable in the education habitus.

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Gender Differences (extra)

Girls achievement + identity

Symbolic capital - brands, wearing the right clothes to fit in, status, recognition. ARCHER

Hyper- heterosexual feminine identities

- boyfriends: by having a boyfriend they would gain status and seem cool however it lowers expectations and is a huge distraction. They can often be pregnant and drop out of school to look after the child.

- loud - often outspoken, independent and questions the teacher's authority, therefore, goes against the idea pupil and MC values.

 Dilemma =

- gain symbolic capital - conform the hyper-heterosexual feminine identity or - educational capital - reject WC identity and conform to MC values.

Some successful WC girls go to uni and get a job, however always local (holds them back, self-exclusion), only to care for families and give back to them, never really for personal gain.

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Gender Differences (extra)

Gender & Subject choice

Gender socialisation - NORMAN, early ages girls and boys are socialised differently, read different books, activities, sports. GENDER DOMAINS-  female and male 'territory', can't step out of them, girls: books, nurse, feelings. boys: cars, football, rough.

Gendered subject images - KELLY boys take science cuz more science teachers are male and more dominance in lab and interests are more theirs. LEONARD - same-sex school don't have the same problem, girls take more boy dominated subjects cuz no pressure.

Gender identity & peer pressure - DEWAR girls called 'lesbians' or 'butch' if take sports. Can't step out of gender domain otherwise you are considered weird or different.

Gendered career opportunities - boys and girls look up to parents, usually, parents are in traditional roles which the children will then follow. Women usually secretarial, assistants and housewives. men are more ******** jobs always high authority.

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Class Differences (extra)

Gender Identities

Double standards - LEE boys can talk about their sexual desires and actions if girls do they are 'slags'. Devalues women and reproduces and justifies patriarchy. Female subordination to males.

Verbal abuse - LEE 'slags' if dressed sexually or sexually active but then are 'boring or drags' if they're not. teachers ignore this.

Male gaze - MAC & GHAILL, men use this as surveillance, sexual objects and judge appearance, prove their masculinity by telling stories etc.

Male peer groups - its 'gay' to work and be a '******** achiever' however you can be a 'real Englishman' and pretend to not work however actually want to secretly get good grades.

Female peer groups - Ringrose, the decision between sexualised identity (compete for boys attention) or idealised (loyal to friends and want friends). Girls don't want to be called a **** but don't want to be called frigid or be a boffin (pro-education, not involved).

Teachers and discipline - ROSS male teachers saving female teachers from bad behaviour boys, as well as M&G reinforcing gender identities through saying 'don't act like a girl' to boys and teasing boys when a girl does better than them on a test. 

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Value freedom & commitment - objectivity

two reasons why sociologists want their values to be irrelevant to their research:

1. the desire to appear scientific -reflected a desire to make sociology respectable, science has high prestige, so mimicking its ways would make it more respectable. 2. the social position of sociology - 'problem takers' not 'problem makers' - get paid by their 'paymasters' to do work for there, so making a 'gentleman's promise' to not rock the boat.

Gouldners view that value-free sociology is impossible (paymasters or their own values always reflected) and undesirable (without values to guide research, sociologists selling services to the highest bidder).

Becker - whose side are we on?  we should side with the underdogs, less is known about these groups. Gouldner says Becker romanticises them, and we should side with the group whose fighting back against the capitalism - ending their oppression by unmasking how the powerful maintain power. Funding and careers - values of paymaster or funder, chose something fashionable for their career and move forward. 

Relativism - different groups have different views of what is TRUE, no way of judging which is true, PM's believe this as well - no absolute truth. (except the real factual world OS)

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