Sociology Euducation

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Chapter 2 - topic 1

Chapter 2 - topic 2

Chapter 2 - topic 5 

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  • Created on: 17-06-21 12:05

1. Class differences in achievement

1. Class differences in achievement:

Internal factors - factors within schools and the education system e.g the interactions between teachers and students.

External factors - factors outside of the education system e.g the influence of the family.

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Cultural deprivation theory

Culture -> norms, values, beliefs, skills and knowledge that is shared by a society.

These are transmitted between generations through primary socialisation.

Different classes socialise their children differently = differences in educational achievement.

The cultural deprivation theory claims that the working class fails to socialise its children into the 'right culture' and so they lack the 'cultural equipment' that is needed to succeed in school.

There are three factors that make up the cultural deprivation theory:

- Langauge

- Parent's education

- Working-class subculture

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Intellectual stimulation

The cultural deprivation theory:

Working-class families are less likely to give their children educational toys.

These stimulate thinking and reasoning skills, thus improving cognitive abilities.

As working-class children do not have access to these, they may not be as intellectually developed as their middle-class counterparts. 

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The cultural deprivation theory:

Basil Bernstein (1975) stated that the classes use different 'codes' when speaking. The restricted code:

- Used by the working-class.

- Limited vocab, short sentences, disjointed phrases. Many gestures used whilst speaking.

- Context-bound.

The elaborated code:

- Used by the middle-class.

- Varied vocab, long sentences.

- Context-free.

The elaborated code is used by schools, teachers, exams, textbooks, etc. This places working-class children at a disadvantage.

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Parent's education

The cultural deprivation theory:

Feinstein (2008) argues that the parent's education is the most important factor in the child's achievement. As middle-class parents are often well educated, their children have an advantage.

PARENTING STYLE: EP emphasises discipline, high expectations whereas less-educated parents have inconsistent discipline and so their children have less motivation to succeed.

PARENTS' EDUCATIONAL BEHAVIOURS: EP know how to help their child succeed e.g they form good relationships with their teachers.

LANGUAGE: impacts cognitive abilities, parents that use the elaborated code help their children develop faster.

USE OF INCOME: EP often has spare income that can be put towards resources, educational toys, educational trips, etc.

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Parent's education

The cultural deprivation theory:

Feinstein (2008) argues that the parent's education is the most important factor in the child's achievement. As middle-class parents are often well educated, their children have an advantage.

PARENTING STYLE: EP emphasises discipline, high expectations whereas less-educated parents have inconsistent discipline and so their children have less motivation to succeed.

PARENTS' EDUCATIONAL BEHAVIOURS: EP know how to help their child succeed e.g they form good relationships with their teachers.

LANGUAGE: impacts cognitive abilities, parents that use the elaborated code help their children develop faster.

USE OF INCOME: EP often has spare income that can be put towards resources, educational toys, educational trips, etc.

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Compensatory education

The cultural deprivation theory:

These programmes try to tackle cultural deprivation by providing extra resources.

E.g Operation Head Start in the US was a scheme of 'planned enrichment'. 

UK -> Educational Priority Areas, Education Action Zones and Sure Start.

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Criticisms of the CD theory

The cultural deprivation theory:

- It ignores the importance of material factors e.g poverty.

- It ignores the impact of internal factors e.g teacher labelling in schools.

- It blames the victims for their failure.

Many critics argue that the wc is not culturally deprived, it is simply culturally different and is therefore put at a disadvantage.

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Material deprivation

Material deprivation (poverty) can cause underachievement due to factors such as:

Poor housing -> Overcrowding may prevent a student from doing homework.Cold/ damp rooms can lead to illness and absences, poorly impacting achievement. Students living in temporary accommodation may need to move houses (and/or schools) frequently which disrupts their education. 

Poor diet -> can lead to illnesses/ absences/ a lack of energy / lack of concentration in class.

Financial costs of education -> Poorer families may be unable to afford educational resources and children may be bullied for not owning specific things. 

Fear of debt -> students from low-income families may be forced to remain local to save on living and transport fees. Callender and Jackson (2005) found that wc students tend to be debt-averse, they see more costs than benefits in regards to university. 

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Cultural capital theory

Bourdieu (1984) combines cultural and material theories to explain the underachievement of working-class students. He believes that they are not separate but interrelated.

He believes that mc students are more successful than wc students because they own more capital.

There are two types of capital:

Economic capital - wealth 

Cultural capital - attitudes, values, skills, knowledge, etc of the middle-class.

The mc then use their economic and cultural capital to garner more educational capital for their children (these are qualifications).

The education system rewards the culture of the mc whilst devaluing the culture of the wc.

A cycle is created as the qualifications allow students to garner more economic capital and pass down the process to their children. 

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School factors

School factors and achievement:

Factors and processes within schools impact educational success.

Most sociologists who have studied the role of school factors are interactionists.

THEY LIKE TO FOCUS ON SMALL SCALE INTERACTION (e.g between teachers and students). 

They identify a number of causes for the underachievement of wc pupils:

- Labelling 

- The self-fulfilling prophecy

- Streaming 

- Pupil subcultures

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School factors and achievement:

Labels -> meanings of definitions we attach to someone to understand and categorise them.

These labels are often based not on the child's abilities but the stereotypes that can be made about their class background.

Howard Becker (1971) interviews 60 Chicago high school teacher and found that they labelled mc children as being closest to the 'ideal pupil'. 

Labelling in secondary schools: Dunne and Gazeley (2008) found through interviewing 9 English state secondary schools that they normalised the underachievement of wc pupils and saw it inevitable as they stereotyped their families as unsupportive, thus they assumed the child would never have to motivation to succeed.

Labelling in primary schools: Rits (1975) a teacher used children's background information to group them based on their classes, they encouraged the mc children the most. 

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School factors and achievement:

This is an extreme and institutionalised form of labelling. Students are placed into categories. Bright mc students are grouped whilst 'thick' wc students are given the message that there is no hope for them. 

Lacey (1970) describes streaming as 'differentiation'. This creates a self-fulling prophecy.

Douglas found that the IQ of students in the bottom steams decreased over time.

Gillborn and Youdell (2001) argue that those placed in lower streams are denied the opportunity to succeed as they are entered for lower-tier GCSEs. This widens the gap in achievement between the classes.

They link streaming to the policy of publishing league tables and state that this has created an 'A-to-C' economy as schools focus more attention on the mc students they believe will get good grades and boost the school's position on the league tables.

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Educational triage

School factors and achievement:

Gillborn and Youdell argue that the formation of the 'A-to-C' economy is an educational triage.

Triage means 'sorting'.

It is a term that is often used on battlefields to sort who is a priority when medical sources are scarce.

The groups include:

(1) The walking wounded - they can be ignored because they will survive.

(2) Those who will die anyway - will be ignored to save resources.

(3) Those with a chance of survival - are given treatment in the hope they can be saved.

Schools then mimic this system:

(1) Those who will pass anyway and can be left to get on with it.

(2) Those with potential who when helped can get a C or above.

(3) Those who are doomed to fail anyway. 

League tables drive educational triage which then forms the basis of streaming. 

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Pupil subcultures

School factors and achievement:

Subculture -> a group that shares similar values and behaviour patterns. They often emerge as a result of labelling.

Lacey (1970) explains how these groups develop:

Differentiation: the process where teachers categorise students on their ability, attitudes and behaviour (e.g streaming) Those who are 'more able' receive a high status whilst those in low streams are given an inferior status.

Polarisation: this is how students react to these labels, by moving towards one of the opposite extremes. They then form pro-school subcultures or anti-school subcultures. 

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Pupil subcultures 2

School factors and achievement:

The pro-school subcultures:

- Mainly pupils that are placed in high streams.

- They remain committed to the values of the school.

- They gain their status om the approved manner of academic success.

Anti-school subcultures:

- Mainly those placed in low streams, they have been undermined by being given an inferior status.

- They search for other ways to garner status by inverting the school's values of hard work, obedience and punctuality.

- They gain status by misbehaving.

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Pupil subcultures 3

School factors and achievement:

Peter Woods (1979) argues that other responses (aside from joining subcultures) were possible:

- Ingratiation -> being the teacher's pet.

- Ritualism -> going through the motions and staying out of trouble.

- Retreatism -> daydreaming and mucking about.

- Rebellion -> an outright rejection of everything the school stands for.

Furlong (1984) observed that many pupils did not permanently commit to one response and could move between the categories or act differently towards different teachers. 

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Critics of labelling theory

School factors and achievement:

- It has been accused of determinism, it assumes that labelled pupils have no choice but to fulfil the prophecy and fail.

- Fuller's (1984) study showed that this was not always the case.

- Marxists criticise the labelling theory for ignoring the structures in society that allow labelling to take place.

- They argue that labels are not the consequence of teacher's biases but they are a result of the system that teachers work for as it is designed to reproduce class divisions. 

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Class identities and achievement

Archer (2010) focused on the interaction of wc pupil's identities and the school and how this encourages underachievement. They drew on Bourdieu's (1984) concept of Habitus to explain the relationship. 

Habitus -> this is a class's way of acting and thinking ('what is normal for us'). The mc has the power to define its habitus as superior and impose it on education so that it is favoured and rewarded. This is linked to Bourdieu's concept of cultural capital. 

Symbolic capital and symbolic violence -> schools commit symbolic violence against students by deeming their habitus as inferior and denying them symbolic capital (status). This causes a clash between the identities of wc pupils and schools. Archer found that wc student's found education to be a process of 'losing yourself' if you want a chance and succeeding.

Nike identities -> having symbolic violence committed against them, pupils turned to wear branded goods to gain symbolic capital. Conforming meant that they were protected from bullying, not conforming was social suicide and gave wc students power. However, the identities clashed with the school's mc habitus.

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The role of education in society

How far does education provide all individuals with equal opportunities for achievement?

How far does education recreate existing social class inequalities?

In what ways does education serve the needs of the economy?

What kinds of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values does education transmit?

FUNCTIONALSIM -> holds a consensus approach.

NEOLIBERALISM AND THE NEW RIGHT -> hold a conservative, free-market approach.

MARXISM -> a class conflict approach. 

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Functionalist perspective

Durkheim: solidarity and skills:

He believes (1903) that education performs two basic functions:

Promotes social solidarity -> without this society would fall apart. It transmits out shared culture and binds people together. E.g teaching common history shows students that they are part of one community. 

Prepares young people for work -> schools are 'miniature societies' as they mimic the structures and experiences found in the world of work. Schools also teach pupils the specialist knowledge and skills they will need to play their part in the social division of labour. 

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Functionalist perspective 2

Parsons: socialisation and meritocracy:

He argues that school is the 'focal socialising agency' of society.  It also acts as a bridge between the family and society.

Secondary socialisation -> the child is treated by particularistic standards and as an individual. Wider society cannot function this way as everyone must be treated in the same universalistic, impersonal way (e.g everyone abides by the same laws). Schools socialise students to accept this treatment.

In the family, the child's status is ascribed. In society, it is achieved (e.g you work for a promotion) schools socialise students to accept this through the concept of meritocracy. 

Our meritocratic society is based on two values:

- Individual achievement: everyone achieves their status through their own efforts and abilities only.

- Equal opportunity: every individual has the same starting platform, everyone has a fair chance at success.

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Functionalist perspective 3

Davis and Moore: role allocation:

Functionalists argue that schools select and assign students to their future work roles by assessing their abilities. They match them to the job that is best suited to them.

Davis and Moore see schools as devices for role allocation.

They argue that inequality is essential to ensure that the most important roles in society are filled by the most talented people. E.g it would be dangerous to have less able people flying planes or carrying out surgeries.

Not everyone is equally talented and so society offers higher rewards for these harder jobs.

This creates completion and allows society to fill these positions with the most talented individuals. 

Education plays a large role in this as it allows people to showcase their talent. It 'sifts and sorts' people out according to their abilities (using the meritocratic system). The ablest gain the highest qualifications and get the highest paying jobs. 

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Functionalist perspective 4

Human capital theory:

Blau and Duncanc (1978) argue that a modern economy relies on using its 'human capital' (the skills of its workers).

They claim that a meritocratic education system ensures this as it matches people to the best jobs for them.

This makes the most effective use of everyone's talents and abilities. 

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Evaluation of functionalists

Marxists argue that the values transmitted are not shared by the entire society but are those of the ruling class.

Education is not meritocratic as it discriminated against some groups and refuses to give them equal opportunities to succeed (e.g the wc or students of colour).

Tumin (1953) criticises David and Moore for putting forward a vague and circular argument e.g How do we know that a job is important? Because it is highly rewarded. Why is it highly rewarded? Because it is important.

The interactions Wrong (1961) argues that functionalists have an 'oversocialised view of society, they wrongly assume that all pupils passively accept what they are taught.

Neoliberals and the New Right would argue that the state education system fails to prepare young people for the world of work. 

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Neoliberalism and the NR

Neoliberalism believes that the state should not provide education- they should be more like businesses as this encourages competition and improves standards.

Functionalism and the New Right compared:

- They believe that some people are more talented than others / they agree that education should be run on a meritocratic system to encourage competition / they believe that education should socialise pupils into shared values and provide a sense of national identity. 

However, they disagree with functionalist as they believe that the current education system is not achieving these goals as it is run by the state. 

They believe that it has a one-size-fits-all approach that does not accommodate all pupils. State schools do not answer the requests of the consumers, waste money and are inefficient. 

This creates low standards as they inefficiently educate students. Schools that get poor results do not change as they do not listen to the consumer. This means that they are producing a less qualified workforce. 

The New right believes that a solution to this is marketisation- the introduction o private companies into state ran institutions. 

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Neoliberalism and the NR 2

The New Right believes that marketisation is essential to improve schools as the competition against other schools would force them to respond to the consumers and make improvements. A school's survival would depend on its ability to raise the achievements of its pupils. 

Chubb and Moe (1990) argue that state-run education in the US has failed because:

- It has not created equal opportunities and has failed disadvantaged groups.

-It fails to produce pupils with skills that the economy needs.

- Private schools deliver a higher quality of education as they are answerable to paying consumers. 

They found this from the comparison of the achievements of 60k low-income students in over 1k schools. They found that students from low-income families in private schools did 5% better than those in state schools. As a solution, they call for the introduction of a market system in education that will fice control to the consumers. This could be done through a voucher system where each family will be given a voucher to spend on the schools they ish to send the child to. This would become their main source of income and force them to 'improve their product'. 

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Neoliberalism and the NR 3

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Neoliberalism and the NR 3

Two roles for the State:

Although the New RIght believes that the state should not provide education, it argues that it will still have two important roles:

- Impose the framework schools can compete by (e.g publishing league tables).

- Ensure that schools transmit a shared culture through a compulsory national curriculum that emphasises a shared nation identity (e.g through teaching British history). Consequently, they oppose multicultural education that reflects the cultures of minority groups in Britain. 

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Evaluation of the NR

Gerwitz and Ball (1994) argue that the completion created by marketisation benefits the mc as they can use their cultural and economic capital to access the more desirable schools.

Critics argue that the cause of low educational standards is not state control but social inequality and the poor funding of schools.

Some argue that the NR contradicts itself by aiming to give parents more control yet enforcing a compulsory national curriculum. 

Marxists argue that schools do not impose a shared national culture but the culture of the ruling class. 

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Marxist perspective

Marxism is a conflict view that sees society as being based on class divisions and exploitation. They are that:

Society is made up of two classes: the ruling class (bourgeoisie/ mc) and the subject class (the proletariat/ wc).

The capitalists own means of production (land, factories, etc) and make their profits but exploiting the working class. The wc earns a living by selling their labour to the mc as they do not own means of production. 

This system needs the wc to be repressed as its stability is threatened by Marxists revolutions that could overthrow it.

Social institutions (e.g schools, media, religion) reproduce class inequalities by persuading the wc that the hierarchy is fair, natural and justified. 

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Marxist perspective 2

Althusser: the ideological state apparatus

Marxists believe that the state is used by capitalists to maintain a dominant position. Althusser argues that the state consists of two elements (apparatuses) that do this:

The repressive state apparatus -> (RSA) e.g police, courts, army. They can use force to repress the wc and maintain the control of the mc.

The ideological state apparatus -> (ISA) e.g religion, media, schools. These retain the power of the mc by controlling people's ideas, values and beliefs.

Althusser believes that the edu. system is an example of ISA. 

Education reproduces class inequality by transmitting it between generations, failing each generation of wc students.

It also justifies class inequality by creating ideologies that hide its true cause. They persuade the wc that they deserve their subordinate position (e.g the concept of the meritocracy system, if they fail it is their fault). If students accept these ideas, they will be less likely to threaten capitalism. 

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Marxist perspective 3

Bowles and Gintis (1976): schooling in capitalist America:

They develop Althusser's ideas further. They believe that capitalism needs a workforce of submissive people that will be able to accept hard work, low wages and being submissive. They also believe that it is the role of the education system to instil these traits in students.

They believe in the correspondence principle = schooling takes place in the 'long shadow of work'. Many structures and relationships found in schools mirror those in the workplace.

e.g in school, they are taught to accept a hierarchy of authority, as in occupation, there are similar hierarchies.

This principle operates through the hidden curriculum, these are the lessons that are learnt implicitly in schools -> hierarchy, competition, alienation, etc. The hidden curriculum normalises these and ensures the students will be accepting of them before they join the workforce.

An example of the theory: Cphen (1984) youth training schemes don't teach young people genuine job skills, instead they teach them to accept authority and the other values of a subordinate workforce. 

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Marxist perspective 4

Bowles and Ginitis (1976): schooling in capitalist America:

They describe the education system as a 'giant myth-making machine' when explaining the myth of meritocracy. When the wc is repressed, there is always the risk that they may band together and rebel.

Through the myth of meritocracy, schools teach students that the privilege of the mc is natural and inevitable as they worked hard to be where they are. This means that wc students will be less likely to rebel. 

Unlike functionalists, Marxists believe that meritocracy does not exist and is a smokescreen for the advantaged enjoyed by the mc.

Bowles and Gintis also believe that the education system justifies poverty through their 'poor-are-dumb' theory. Schools blame poverty on the failure of the individual rather than capitalism ('I'm poor because I did not work hard enough in school'). This makes them less likely to rebel against the low wages capitalism enforces. 

They also reject the functionalist view that education allocates the most talented individuals meritocratically. Their research showed that education rewards conformists only. 

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Marxist perspective 5

Willis: learning to labour:

Using qualitative methods, Willis (1977) studied the counter-school culture of 'the lads'- a group of 12 wc boys as they made their transition to the world of work.

Willis rejects Bowles and Gintis's version of the correspondence theory. The lads refused to passively accept the ruling class idealogy and actively resisted it. They could see through the myth of meritocracy.

They formed their distinct counter-culture. They flouted school rules (e.g smoking or playing truant). This was their way of resisting the school's authority.

Their anti-school culture was similar that to the shopfloor culture of male manual workers with who they identified with strongly. This explains why they saw themselves as superior to girls and 'effeminate' conformists.

Willis noted the irony of their resistance as their counterculture ensured that they would fail and serve capitalism by carrying out the manual work it requires. Their resistance to school reproduced class inequality. 

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Evaluation of Marxism

Postmodernists argue that Marxism is out of date and that the correspondence principle no longer exists or is too simple of a view:

- Postmodernists argue that class divisions are not important in a post-Fordist economic system that is now far more diverse and fragmented.

- They claim that Marxists see inequality when in reality it is diversity and choice.

Feminists argue that schools not only reproduce capitalism but the values of that patriarchy as well. They point out that women are not present in Willis' study. 

Marxists also disagree amongst themselves on how reproduction and legitimisation take place. Bowles and Gintis have a deterministic view that assumes pupils passively accept indoctrination. Willis rejects this idea of simple 'brainwashing' and shows how resistance still serves capitalism.

Willis has also been criticised of aromatising the 'lads' by presenting them as wc heroes despite their anti-social and sexist behaviour. His study of the small group of 12 boys is also unlikely to be representative. 

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