Sociology - Education with Research Methods

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  • Created on: 09-04-15 20:32


- Major function of education is the transmission of society's norms & shared beliefs - VALUE CONSENSUS

- Children see they are a part of something larger than them & develop a sense of commitment to the social group, e.g history, geography, RE

- School makes children learn to co-operate with other members of society other than friends & family - It is like a mini society, SOCIAL SOLIDARITY

- Education teaches children skills for future work roles - Preparation for division of labour

- Hidden Curriculum prepares individuals for work - Skills you learn by being at school - "Those things that pupils learn through the experience of attending school rather than through the stated aims of the school"


- Research Method - 'Armchair theorising' - Durkheim didn't actually carry out empirical research, he was expressing his opinion based on his functionalist beliefs, non empirical.

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- School acts as a bridge between the family & society, preparing children for their adult roles - SECONDARY SOCIALISATION

- School prepares children for transition between their particularistic standards & ascribed status of the family to the universalisic standards & achieved status of society

- Status is achieved on basis of merit (hard working, individual achievement), meritocracy

- Society needs a highly motivated, achievement orientated workforce, Principle of differential achievement - Competitive values

- School is a miniture version of society - Both meritocratic

- Schools match children to occupations based on aptitude & achievement


RESEARCH METHOD - Non empirical

Weaknesses - Idea of meritocracy is undermined by the stalistical patterns which show that not all children have equal chances of success

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- Education = Means of role allocation

- Select & allocate pupils to future work roles

- Assess individual's aptitudes & abilities then help match them to the job they are best suited to

- Inequality is necessary to ensure most important jobs are filled by the most talented people

- Talent unequally distributed through innate ability

- Jobs have different rewards based on their uniquenes

- Education sifts & sorts - Allows everyone to compete equally


- Certain groups underachieve in school, therefore not equal opportunities but some start with large amounts of cultural capital - Language, attitudes, confidence

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1. Research method - 'Armchair theorising' because Durheim didn't actually carry out empirical research, he was expressing his opinion based on his Functionalist views, non empirical.

2. Certain groups underachieve in school, therefore opportunities are not equal.

3. Meritocracy doesn't exist.

4. Assums all pupils have equal opportunities but some start with large amounts of cultural capital - Language, attitudes, confidence.

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In modern society, the education system has largely replaced the church as the main agency for ideological control.

Education performs 2 functions:

1. Reproducing class inequality

2. Legitimating class inequality

Education is a tool of capitalism which is used to pass on the belief that society is fair. Althusser thinks education produces a passive & docile workforce.

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Close link between school & work

Correspondence theory - Close link between pupil experiences of school & adult work.

Pupils are taught to accept hierarchy at school. Work also has a hierarchy.

Pupils are motivated by grades to do work. Workers are rewarded with pay to do work.

School day is broken up until small units, so is the work day.

At school & work, subservience (following the rules) is rewarded.

Bowles & Gintis say that the 'hidden curriculum' prepares people for work. They also say that meritocracy is a myth which is used to blame individuals for not succeeding.

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A structural approach to the role of education in a capitalist society. However, Willis combined this with an interactionist approach to examine experiences in school.

There isn't a simple relationship between the economy & the education system. Students are active participants, some of whom choose to fail.

Willis rejects Bowles & Gintis' correspondence theory.

Learning to Labour

Willis studied 12 working class boys in a midlands secondary school. He argued that these 'lads', as they identified themselves, formed a distinctive "counter school subcultural grouping" (anti school subculture) characterised by opposition to the values & norms spread throughout the school. Boys showed little interest in academic work, preferring instead to amuse themselves through varies forms of deviant behaviour in which "having a laugh" became the main objective of the school day. They also tried to identify with the adult world by smoking, drinking & expressing strongly sexist & racist attitudes. Academic work had no value to them, they had little interest in gaining qualifications & saw manual work as superior to mental work. They had a fatalistic attitude.

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1. Teacher labelling

To label someone is to attach a meaning or definition to them. Labels can be positive or negative. Through the process of labelling, teachers have the power to shape students' self concepts & self identities which can influence their future behaviour. 

Becker (1971)

Studied class biased stereotypes. Interviewed 60 Chicago high school teachers. Teachers had to describe their 'ideal' student. Teachers emphasised personal characteristics before mentioning ability. Middle class students matched their teachers' 'ideal' better than working class students.

2. Self fulfilling prophecy

Prediction that comes true simply by virtue of it having been made. Labelling affects students by creating a SFP. Teacher labels pupil & makes a prediction based on the label, teacher treats pupil accordingly, acting as if the prediction is already true, pupil internalises teacher's expectation which becomes part of their self concept & self belief, therefore becomes the student the teacher believed them to be. Creates a self fulfilling prophecy for the teacher.                                                                                                                   

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3. Pupil Subcultures

A group of pupils who share similar values & behaviour patterns. Subcultures emerge as a response to the way pupils have been labelled & as a reaction to streaming.

Lacey (1970)

Developed concepts of differentiation & polarisation to explain how subcultures develop. Found the process whereby the school attempted to differentiate pupils on the basis of achievement (streams) created a sense of failure in the lowest streams. 

4. Curriculum

Cultural difference - Underachievement is produced by the mismatch in cultures between the home & school. Curriculum is culturally biased towards middle class students. Middle class may identify more with what is being taught, working class feel like outsiders. Anti school subcultures therefore develop not as an act of defiance but because pupils feel marginalised.

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5. School organisation

Hidden curriculum supports cultural capital of middle class students. 

Adult role models in school are based on middle class culture.

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1. Material Deprivation

Lacking the money & resources to have the best chance of succeeding in education.

Poverty & finance - 90% of 'failing' schools are in deprived areas.

Housing - Overcrowded houses make it difficult to find space for studying. Frequent moving can also disrupt learning.

Diet & health - Children from poorer families are more likely to suffer from emotional & behavioural  problems, lack of routine can lead to sleep deprived children who lack concentration in school.

2. Cultural Deprivation

Inadequacies in primary socialisation process may have an impact on education achievement. Includes values, expectations, norms transmitted in the home. PS has an effect on success of w/c children, more likely to suffer from cultural dep where they lack knowledge & skills to succeed. W/c parents more likely to be unemployed or in unskilled jobs with few qualifications. May attach little value to education. Douglas found m/c parents encouraged their children to suceed.

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3. Lack of cultural capital

Cultural capital refers to knowledge, attitudes, values, language, tastes & abilities of middle class. M/c children are advantaged as their culture is valued in education system & awarded with qualifications. Education system favours & transmits m/c culture. Bourdieu argued w/c failure is the fault of the education system & not w/c culture. Reay found amount of cultural capital possessed by m/c mothers meant their children could succeed more than w/c children.

4. Linguistic deprivation

Bernstein argued the language codes or the way children use language (speech, vocabulary, grammar) influences their achievement. M/c are fluent speakers of the elaborated code, characterised by broader vocabulary, more detail & grammatically well structured. W/c are restrained to the restricted code, used casually, short sentences, limited by simple grammar. It is context bound, the listener must be aware of the topic of conversation for it to make sense.

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