Sociology - Education (G673)

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  • Created on: 11-01-14 14:34

Role of Education - Functionalist

  • Society is meritocratic - everyone has equal chance of success.
  • Durkheim - education transmits general values (norms and values) promoting social solidarity and specific skills to produce a skilled workforce - achieve qualifications for the world of work.
  • BUT Hargreaves - schools do not do enough - no feeling of self worth and belonging - anti school subcultures.
  • Also, not clear that modern educ system does transmit shared values and promote solidarity - cultural fragmentation and diverstiy in society. Assumes norms and values are those of society as a whole rather than ruling class (Marxist).
  • Parsons - school is an agent of secondary socialisation passes on norms and values. Acts as a bridge between family and world of work, from particularistic standards to universalistic standards, from ascribed to achieved status.
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Role of Education - Functionalist Criticisms/Eval

  • Values transmitted may be those of the ruling minority rather than society as a whole (Marxist).
  • View that schools produce conformist 'good' citizens is over-deterministic - some pupils are active and reject norms and value of schools - anti school subcultures.
  • Davis & Moore - role allocation - education system sifts, sorts and grades pupils by tests, exams etc into sets and streams - prepares them for the world of work by allocating them to future roles.
    • Hardworking pupils get the top jobs ins society whilst those with few qualification have not worked to same standard and so get lesser jobs.
    • Inequality is inevitable.
  • Overall - too traditional and uncritical. Assumes educ system is meritocratic but independent sector and inequalities in state sector due to class, ethnicity and gender mean this is not the case.
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Role of Education - Marxist

  • Produce next generation of workers for capitalism.
  • Hidden curriculum transmits norms and values but of the ruling class not society.
  • Althusser - school forms part of the ideological state apparatus and ideologically conditions pupils into ruling class norms and values. Accept the situation as it is - conformity encouraged through hidden curriculum. Provides passive, obedient workforce for capitalism.
  • School teaches a curriculum which does not encourage pupil to question or challenge the system - subjects that encourage critical thinking (sociology, politics etc) are not included in the mainstream curriculum.
  • BUT some of these subjects are provided post 16 to raise awareness.
  • BUT sociology is often given bad press - seen as a 'soft' subject.
  • Teachers are the agents of capitalism - their expectation about behaviour results in WC pupils being negatively labelled, put in bottom sets etc becuase teachers try to control pupils who challenge authority and the current system.
  • WC learn to see failure as their own fault which ensures a flow of workers BUT teachers are often radical and so do not provide children with educ to support capitalism.
  • Bowles and Gintis - correspondence theory - direct relationship between school and workplace (see handout).
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  • Some pupils are prepared for managerial roles by being in higher sets and encouraged to be independent and self directed.
  • Bowles & Gintis argue that capitalist societies are not meritocratic - the children of the ruling class get high qualifications and top jobs, regardless of ability.
  • BUT there is a 'myth of meritocracy' - many do believe they have an equal chance of success - this illusion is given becasue some WC pupils are allowed to succeed and this makes it seem meritocratic.
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Role of Education - Marxist Criticisms/Eval

  • Existence of anti school subcultures shows that pupils are not always conformist and do reject the ethos of the school - have little respect for teachers and school rules - rejects the deterministic nature of the Marxist theory.
  • Wrong (1980) - questioned the extent to which people can be socialised into conformity in the way Marxists argue.
  • Wrong - this perspective sees people as having no real control over their lives.
  • Willis  - argues that many working class children do resist the imessages transmitted through the educ system but the extent to which such resistance is effective is open to doubt.
  • Postmodernists - today's society requires a very different workforce from that highlighted by Bowles & Gintis and that schools are successful in producing pupils with a diverse range of skills.
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Role of Education - Social Dem

  • Dominated most post war education policy.
  • Argues that state intervention is necessary to reduce inequalities.
  • Disagree with Func. that educ system is meritocratic - believe that inequalties within society (class, gender, ethnicity etc) prevent this.
  • Whilst a meritocracy is desirable, the market economy gives unfair advantages to the middle class and people born into poverty do not have the same chances.
  • Halsey (1977) - educ fails to offer same opportunities to lower classes as it does to higher ones. If tripartite system of the time was run properly then it would create greater equality. Wasted working class talent.
  • 1970s - tripartite replaced with comprehensive schools to enable all social classes to obtain similar education. BUT despite this change happening in most areas, it has not provided equal chances.
  • Crossland (1981) - fairer education system would equalise the distribution of rewards and privileges - decrease class stratification, enable greater social mobility.
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Role of Education - Social Dem Criticisms/Eval

  • Although educ system has been changed, inequalities of opportunity still exist.
  • The gap between those at top and bottom of stratification system remains fixed.
  • Today social democrats focus on changing inequalities within society rather than change school system.
  • Concerns that the UK may be over-educating people - many graduates are unemployed or not in graduate level jobs.
  • Belief in the need for vocational educ indicates a shift away from knowledge to work based skills.
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Role of Education - New Right

  • Political perspective first popular in 1980s with Conservative gov't but has also influenced New Labour policies too.
  • Belive some poeple are more talented than others - favour education system run on meritocratic principles of open competition and one that serves the needs of economy by preparing young people for work.
  • Education should socialise people into shared values BUT do not think current educ systme does this because it is run by the state.
  • State takes 'one size fits all' apporach and fails to meet needs of local communities - marketisation of schools introduced to raise standards through competition, more choice and diversity - lets the school meet demands of pupils, parents and employers - parentocracy.
  • Chubb & Moe (1990) - argue US state education system has failed and argue that it should be subject supply and demand to allow control of state education to be in hands of the consumers allowing them to meet own needs and improve quality and efficiency.
  • Chubb & Moe argue for end to guaranteed state funding for schools, irrespective of how good or bad they are and a change to voucher system - families spend voucher to buy education from school of their choice. BUT state retains 2 roles - imposes frmaework on school within which they compete, and ensures schools transmit shared culture through hidden curriculum - national identity should be affirmed with pupils integrated into single set of tradition and cultural values.
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Role of Education - New Right Criticisms/Eval

  • Gerwitz and Ball both say competition favours the middle class - use economic and cultural capital to access best schools.
  • Real cause of low educational standards is not state control but social inequality and lack of adequate funding of schools.
  • Contradiction between New Right's support for parental choice and imposing compulsory national curriculum on schools.
  • Marxists - education does not impose shared national culture but that of the ruling class.
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Role of Education - New Labour & Criticisms/Eval

  • Continued with New Right philosophy but also adopted more social dem stance (intervention in education).
  • Role = give parents choice but also to intervene to ensure children from poorer backgrounds had chance to succeed.
  • New Right  - continued with marketisation of schools - different types of schools = specialist schools BUT Smithers argues that most school opted for specialisms to gain extra funding. Also, city academies BUT could be seen as more social dem as they were intervening to raise standards of poor areas. Parental choice continued. League tables, OFSTED etc continued to drive up standards, encourage competition.
  • Social Dem - EAZs, EiCs, Sure Start, EMA, increasing numbers going to uni - aimed for 50% of all 18 year olds, Aim Higher.
  • Criticisms/Eval
    • Social class inequalities pervade the educ system.
    • MC parents can take advantage of marketisation of schools - culural, economic and social capital BUT they would argue that they do not get the choice but instead the schools choose.
    • MC still over-represented in top unis etc.
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Role of Education - Coalition & Criticisms/Eval

  • Very similar to New Right - promoting a common identity.
  • Continued with marketisations of school with free schools and academies.
  • Impact of Lib Dems means that some social dem policies are present - pupil premium BUT took away EMA and increased tuition fees so have introduced bursaries to support poorer students.
  • Too soon to evaluate BUT as always, MC parents are advantaged by marketisation.
  • Conclusion
    • Different perspectives see role of educ differently - some works in interests of individuals and society as a whole (Func and NR). Others, like Marxists, works in favour of ruling class not wider society.
    • New Labour and Coalition - promote greater equality in the state system to give everyone equal chances yet like all parties keep the independent sector.
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Educational Policy - New Right

  • 1988 Education Reform Act
    • Marketisation of Schools - raise standards through creating competition between schools. Allowed diversity in the system gave parents choice.
      • Establishment of National Curriculum and introduction of SATs at 7, 11, 14 and 16.
      • Creation of different types of schools - GM or opted out - parents and governors were given the right to 'opt out' of local authority control. Creation of CTCs- partly funded by businesses.
      • Open enrolment meant parents have the right to send their children to a school of their choice - parentocracy.
      • BUT marketisation works in favour of MC - capitals (Putnam), Ball et al's privileged choosers, WC disconnected - lack power/knowledge and send children to local school irrespective of rep BUT semi skilled... Also, MC argue that choice is an illusion.
    • Local Management of Schools (LMS) - headteachers/governors allowed greater control of budgets and how to spend.
    • Formula Funding - finance based on number of students on roll.
  • 1992 League Tables
  • 1993 Truancy Tables
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Educational Policy - New Right Cont. & Criticisms

  • Impact  of 1988 - favours MC, Bartlett & Le Grand - cream skimming, Gerwitz's blurred hierachy of schools - marketisation has created a polarized school system, Bartlett - leads to increased class segreation.
  • Vocationalism - educ & economy, initiatives to give students skills/quals needed by employers including transferrable skills - YTS, YT, NVQs, GNVQs, apprenticeships.


  • Criticisms
    • Finn (Neo-Marxist) - did not teach transferable skills as most young people are involved in low paid, low skilled work - exploited by employers - cheap pool of labour. Real purpose - to manipulate unemployment figures.
    • Cohen (Neo-Marxist) - schemes a form of social control - one long recruitment process, few skills taught.
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Educational Policy - New Labour

  • Continued with New Right agenda but also introduced more social dem stance.
  • New Right - marketisation continued - diversity of schools (specialist, city academies, faith schools) - more choice for parents. Standards - kept SATs and league tables - competition.
  • Claimed this was good for raising standards as GCSE and A Level results improving BUT critics argue that exams are being dumbed down.
  • Ball et al - marketisation continues to favour MC as they use economic and cultural capital to access best state schools BUT some LEAs introduced school lottery system to allocate secondary school places BUT still inequality as separate lotteries in catchment areas.
  • Continued with league tables BUT in 2006 became 'value added' BUT exam results are still the basis of parents' judgement of schools which lets schools recruit more MC pupils.
  • Social Dem - EMA introduced to try to get more pupils to stay on post 16 BUT Smith & Noble - up to £30 pw is not enough. EAZs - try to improve performance in deprived areas BUT OFSTED 2003 - poorly organised and waste of money. EiCs - same aim and same problems as EAZs. Hard to compensate for home background of a child. Sure Start - 'the best possible start in life' through improved child care, early education, health and family support BUT impact was not as great as hoped. Basic Skills - literacy and numeracy hours in primary - positive effect on reading and helped to reduce gender differences in reading scores BUT Machin & McNally still claimed that it had a limited effect. Aim Higher - raise aspirations, discontinued by coalition.
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  • Participation in higher educ - aim was to increase no. of students to 50% by 2010, positive discrimination by unis - accepted children from poorer backgrounds and postcodes with lower A Level & GCSE results. BUT Centre for the Economics of Education (2003) - expansion of uni places would lead to sharp rise in less able from wealthy backgrounds going and a decline in WC. Also, WC more likely to go to newer unis (Sutton Trust) or local (Furlong & Cartmel). NUS - WC have to work part time to finance studies, may impact on quality of work and may drop out.
  • University Fees - introduced in 1999 (£1000 pa), replaced by top up fee in 2006 (£3000). Connor & Dewson, Shropshire & Middleton - thought that fees would deter less well off. NUS - WC have to work part time to finance studies, may impact on quality of work and may drop out. Overall stats suggest that the number of WC students applying to uni have decreased.
  • Vocational Educ - continued and in 2008 introduced diplomas - wanted more students to stay on post 16 BUT seen as second best to A Levels, taken mostly by WC so reinforce class divisions (Lees et al) and not accepted by top unis (Hoelscher), poor success rate.
  • New Deal for Young People (NDYP) - reduce youth unemployment for 18-24 yr olds who had been unemployed and claiming Job Seekers for 6 months, party claimed it was success but critics argue that it failed to find lasting jobs and failed to help most disadvantaged (Tomlinson).
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Educational Policy - New Labour Criticisms

  • Overall Eval
    • Policies reflected new right approach but also a social democratic agenda to help those from less well-off homes.
    • BUT two theories seem to conflict - New Right increase inequality (favour MC) whilst social democrats look for more opportunites for the less well off.
    • Ball et al - gap between those at top and bottome remains huge.
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Educational Policy - Coalition

  • Similar to New Labour - New Right & Social Democratic
  • New Right - Marketisation continued - Free Schools - funded by gov't, run by teachers not local councils, more freedom BUT NUS - harmful effect on existing schools, money for free schools reduces money for existing ones, widen inequality as often set up by MC. Studio Schools - 14-19 yr olds with an entreprenurial and vocational focus. Academies - included freestanding primary and special schools, 2 types - sponsored and convertor. UTCs - 14-19 yr olds, focus on work-related learning combined with academic studies.
  • Social Dem - Pupil Premium - give all disadvantaged 2 yr olds entitlement to 15 hours per week of pre-school education BUT OFSTED - the money was not ring fenced and so was not being used correctly. Catch Up Premium - 11/12 yr olds in danger of falling behind. Extra funding for nursery places. 16-19 Bursaries replaced EMA.
  • Trying to make GCSEs more rigorous - more academically rigorous, little/no coursework, modular route abandoned. EBacc introduced as performance measure of schools. Good for academic schools BUT impacts on the less academic, restricts choice. May impact on girls who are traditionally good at coursework BUT Myhill - assessment in English now more unseen and girls still better.
  • A Levels - more rigorous syllabus, modular route abandoned, little/no coursework, aim is that 2 year course will be examined by exam at end of 2 years.
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Educational Policy - Coaltition Cont & Criticisms

  • Vocational Educ - introduced Youth Contract - pay firms more than £2,000 for each young unemployed person they hire (similar to YTS of New Right).
  • Overall Eval - policies reflect new right approach but Lib Dems have ensured social dem agenda to raise attainment of disadvantaged.
  • Critics like NUT, NASUWT see Gove as trying to turn back the clock to 1950s/60s by reforms to GCSE and A Levels.
  • Too early to evaluate impact of reforms.
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Education & Economy - Functionalist

  • Yes there is a relationship.
  • Durkheim - general values (hidden curriculum) and specific skills (formal curriculum) BUT Hargreaves.
  • Parsons - passes on N&V, acts a bridge between family and work, partiularistic to universalistic standards, ascribed to achieved status.
  • Davis & Moore - educ sifts, sorts and grades pupils - prepares them for the world of work by allocating them to future roles, those in top sets get better jobs, lower sets get lesser ones, fair in distributing jobs on basis of ability.
  • Evaluation
    • Society is not meritocratic.
    • Marxists would argue that it is ruling class N&V that are passed on, not society.
    • Braverman - educ produces overskilled pupils.
    • Berg - modern comps prouce over qualified workforce.
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Education & Economy - Marxist

  • Yes there is a relationship.
  • Hidden curriculum - transmits N&V of ruling class.
  • Althusser - school ideologically conditions, accept situation as it is, encourages conformity, provides passive, obedient workers for capitalism.
  • Bowles & Gintis - correspondence theory - direct relationship between school and workplace. Prepared for low skilled, low paid, temporary, casual work.
  • Evaluation
    • Willis - not all pupils are passive, 12 WC lads reject authority, Marxists are too deterministic.
    • Also, Mac An Ghaill, Frosh, Jackson.
    • Wrong
    • Brown et al - economy has more emphasis on team work BUT exam system encourages individualism and competitiveness.
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Education & Economy - Social Dem

  • Should be a link to promote economic growth.
  • Believe that there is a close link between educ and economic growth.
  • Modern economies need an educated workforce with specialist skills for workplace (Halsey).
  • Over past 50 years people have stayed in educ longer and specialised educ is available so social dem view have been reflected in policy - New Labour increased numbers going to uni (wanted 50% by 2010) and introduced policies to encourage poorer students BUT many graduates now in non-graduate jobs.
  • Also, increased school leaving age to 17, now rising to 18.
  • Evaluation
    • Collins - educ makes little difference to economic growth BUT Dept of Educ - increasing munbers of WC leave school illiterate and innumerate.
    • Woolf questions whether more educ does lead to economic growth? Switzerland relatively low expenditure on educ but are one of the richest countries and Egypt invest heavily in educ with no apparent change in economic postion.
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Education & Economy - New Right

  • No there isn't a relationship - needed one - employers complained that pupils/students were not equipped for world of work/economy.
  • Introduced initiatives to help - new vocationalism - hoped would give transferrable skills. Vocational qualifications introduced in schools and colleges (e.g. NVQ, GNVQ, BTEC).
  • For those who had already left school - youth training programmes.
  • Evaluation
    • Voc quals took a long time to be understood by employers, not as valued as academic quals.
    • Cohen and Finn - youth training does not equip young people for work or give transferable skills. Often used as cheap pool of labour, form of social control, no prospect of job at end.
    • Clarke and Willis - kept them in suspended animation.
    • Finn - 75% of school leavers have part time jobs and so do have experience of work.
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Education & Economy - New Labour

  • Continued with New Right of philosophy of having a link.
  • Introduced vocational/applied A Levels to raise profile.
  • Key Skills - literacy, numeracy, ICT.
  • 2003 Vocational GCSEs (e.g. plumbing, electronics).
  • 14-19 yr olds curriculum - combined traditional and vocational subjects in diploma BUT success rates questioned in 2010 and now discontinued.
  • Evaluation
    • Vocational quals seen as second rate compared to traditional A Levels, tend to be taken by WC, affects uni choices. 
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Education & Economy - Coalition

  • National skills strategy, more apprenticeships to promote economic growth.
  • NEETS (not in employment, education or training) risen to 1.6million.
  • Youth Contract - firms given over £2,000 for each young unemployed person hired.
  • UTCs and Studio Schools to teach vocational subjects.
  • Evaluation
    • Critics say YC has hallmarks of YTS - concerns about firms securing cheap labour for unskilled, menial jobs subsidised by taxpayer and fears that companies will churn young workers, replacing with new recruits once the gov't payments end BUT senior coalition insist that businesses are committed to finding long term work for young applicants.
  • Conclusion
    • Successive governments in last 30 yrs have tried to promote a link and make education more relevant to world of work but still many graduates leaving uni with no prospect of job, due to recession.
    • However, Liberal Thinkers reject the idea of a link, believe educ should be taken for its own sake.
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Class & Attainment - Material Factors

  • Smith & Noble - amount of income impacts child's education, barriers of learning.
  • Sutton Trust - growing up in the poorest fifth of familes means these children are already a year and a half behind children from high income families when they start school.
  • Economic capital (Putnam) may be a significant factor in explainig achievement.
  • Smith & Noble - money allows parents to provide educational toys, books, a healthy diet, space at home to study (also, JrF), transport etc.
  • Upper class - send to independent sector.
  • Middle class - take advantage of marketisation - knowledge and understanding of the system, can manipulate.
  • Shropshire & Middleton - children from poor families are aware and sensitivee to their parents' poverty and lower their ambitions. Smithers - realistic response. Connor & Dewson - fearful of debt and putting pressure on parents. Reay - WC go to local uni.
  • BUT EMA to help - however, Smith & Noble argue it is not enough. Coalition withdrew EMA, replaced with bursaries - BUT student unons criticise withdrawal - disadvantages poorer students.
  • Payne - MC pay for re-sits and private tutors.
  • Ball et al - selection by mortage - Warwick Uni - MC parents willing to pay 20% premium.
  • Tuition fees for FE deter WC students (Machin).
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Class & Attainment - Cultural Factors

  • Linked to values of home and importance placed on educ.
  • Hyman - those in MC/UC have high value on educ so have high expectations and aspirations. Lots of parental encouragement and support.
  • Feinstein - MC do better as parents support BUT Blackstone & Mortimer found parents who had been defined as 'uninterested' by teachers were willing to talk but may be put off by the way teachers communicate, may have had bad experience etc.
  • Sugarman/Connor & Dewson - immediate/deferred gratification - MC defer, encourage to stay on with promise of good job BUT today many ending in non-graduate level jobs. WC immediate, don't see the point in qualifications BUT today, aspirational WC but don't have K&U.
  • Bernstein - speech codes - MC elaborated, WC restricted, schools are MC instituions and so use elaborated, advantages MC BUT Gaine & George - lack of evidence and over simplification of social class.
  • Bourdieu - cultural capital - MC have more than WC as socialised closer to dominant culture of UC, and so glide through educ system,.
  • Reay - MC mothers had more cc than WC - help with homework and sorted out problems at school etc, have confidence with teachers.
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  • Gerwitz et al/Ball - found that UC & MC have most knowledge - privileged choosers, WC disconnected send to local school irrespective of reputation BUT semi-skilled who want best but lack K&U to make informed choices. BUT MC argue they don't have choice - schools choose.
  • Putnam - social capital - access to social networks and contacts to assist in getting best opportunities (UC = old boy network).
  • Cultural Deprivation Theory - functionalists - WC could attain same success as MC but parents fail to prepare their children for school BUT Marxists would argue that educ system is stacked against the WC child - educ works in interests of ruling class. Could talk about myth of meritocracy.
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Class & Attainment - Inside School Factors

  • Linked to interactionists - focus on teacher/pupil and pupil/pupil interactions.
  • Becker - concept of the 'ideal pupil' - MC closest and WC farthest. Rist - US kindergarten - by day 8 children were placed on 'ability' tables and these tended to reflect social class (top table = MC).
  • Dunne & Gazeley - teachers tended to see ideal pupil as MC, 'underachievers' came from WC.
  • Becker - labelling and self fulfilling prophecy - teachers label pupils in relation to ideal pupil and this can become a sfp where children take on label. Teachers more likely to define white, middle class pupils as good and able. BUT does not always lead to sfp, some reject label - Fuller's black girls - set out to prove teachers wrong.
  • Teacher expectations - Rosenthal & Jacobson - told teachers they'd identified 'spurturs' but these were chosen randomly, year later they did make greater progress, teachers expected more and pupils responded. BUT methodology questioned.
  • Hargreaves - depends how often the label is applied, from someone who's opinion counts, if others support the label and context.
  • Bird - more likely to accept academic labels than behavioural ones.
  • Teachers prefer to teach more able, motivated students - put them in higher sets, put in for higher tier exams, positive relationships. Lower sets - young, less experienced teachers with high staff turnover.
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  • Ball - social barbarism - setting lets well off parents separate their children from others.
  • Stephen & Cape - children are aware of groups they are put in - affects self esteem and motivation.
  • Evaluation
    • Looks at small scale interaction - doesn't consider wider sociological issues, ignores cultural and structural factors.
    • Too deterministic - pupils can respond in a number of ways to labelling.
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