Sociology: Education



Durkheim: Was one of the major functionalist thinkers he believed that educational served a number of different purposes.He believed that for society to operate individuals needed a set of agreed norms and values. If they did not have this it would cause chaos, there would be an absence of social norms or anomie. Education plays a part in this. Education is secondary socialisation. 

Parsons: Agrees with Durkheim on many issues. Parsons saw education as a bridge between childhood and the adult world. For Parsons, education moves us from the Particularistic Standards (rules that apply to your particular family) of the family to the Universalistic Standards (norms and values that apply to everybody regardless of who they are) of society.  Parsons says it is education that acts as a bridge and enables us to understand that as adults we are judged in terms of our merits, it achieves this by constantly comparing us via examinations and testing.  

Davis and Moore: Parsons says that education allocates us to roles. They suggest that there is a hierarchy of jobs in the job market and education selects and sorts people for different levels in the job market. 

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Althusser: Said that education is a form of social control, it is part of the ideological state apparatus. It controls the working class by brainwashing them, transmitting norms and values that reproduce capitalism it lets them believe that society is fair when in fact it is not. It reproduces the class system, it creates the idea that capitalism is just and reasonable. It explains why the rich are rich and the poor are poor. 

Bowles and Gintis:

  • Correspondence principle and hidden curriculum: The main function of education is to produce an ideal workforce. To make sure the bourgeoisie have an obedient, docile labour force to exploit and to make sure capitalsm keeps going. 

They found evidence of the correspondence principle in the following way:

  • Acceptance of authority: school also seems to teach us the acceptance of authority. This idea that are are different levels of authority that must be obeyed. In schools, teachers give orders and students obey.
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Motivation by external rewards: One function is to learn to be motivated by external rewards as working is not in itself rewarding.

Fragmentation of tasks: One function is to teach us that the working environment will be split into separate specific tasks. 

Rewards docile personalities: Education functions to provide a subservient workforce of docile, uncritical and passive worker, by rewarding individuals who show these qualities. 

Willis: Was a marxist he criticised Bowles and Gintis view that education produces an ideal work force or correctly transmit the norms and values that support capitalism. 

Willis studied twelve working class males who he calls "the lads". He studied them during their final year in school and in their first few months in work. He used overt participant observation. He found that these boys formed subcultures and they did the opposite of what school wanted them to do. They wanted to do what their older brothers and fathers did.

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