Topic 1


Topic 1-Functionalists Perspective:

  • The role and purpose of education in contemporary society: Major social institution, 13% of total spending goes on education (Around £88 billion a year in 2014), Schools in Britain command a captive audience of virtually all children between the ages of 5-18 (2015), Education system is a major agency of secondary socialization advanced in contemporary society
  • Functionalists perspective: Education is an important agency of socialiazation, helping to maintain social stability through the development of value consensus, social harmony and social cohesion. Education seen as a key role- Preparing young people for adulthood, citizenship and working life,life chances through social mobility 

-Durkheim: Education passes on norms and values in order to integrate individuals into society.Education helps to create a social order based on cohesion and value consensus. Schools are a "society in minature"

-Parsons: Important place for **. School provides a bridge between the particularistic values and ascribed status & the universalisitic values and achieved status  which are based on the values of meritocracy. Childrens status in family is ascribed and judged of particularistic values, BUT; wider contemporary adult society is mertriotic.Education selects children into appropriate roles because it's meritocratic.

-Davis and Moore:Education system is a major method of role allocation. Every society sorts its members into different positions.They argue that there are rules for how education does this: "principle of stratification".They argue inequality is necessary to give the best people the best jobs

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Topic 1- Marxists Perspective:

  • Marxists Perspective: Sees education as a means of social control, encouraging young people to be conformists. To accept their social position. Education system reproduces existing social class inequalities and passes on ruling class ideology that supports capitalism.

-Althusser: Sees education as part of the "ideological state apparatus".It's a tool of capitalism which is used to pass on the belief that society is fair.Education produces a docile and obedient workforce. Reprodction of ruling class ideology and the socialization of workers into accepting the dominant ideoolgy- False consciouness 

-Bowles and Gintis: Role of education is to reproduce obedient workers that will accept inequality as inevitable. Workforce is reproduced in 2 ways: Through the hidden curriculum of schooling (Schooling operates in the "long shadow of work", HC corresponds to many features of the workplace), The legitmation of inequality (Maintains system of social ineqality and the opposition to inequality). See both equality of oppertunity, meritocracy as myths (DAVIS AND MOORE)

- Willis: "Learning to labour"- Working class can resist attempts to exploitation.The ‘lads’ took an anti-school subculture. They rejected the schools meritocratic ‘con’ that working class pupils could achieve middle class jobs through hard work- Schools are not directly preparing the sort of obediant labour force required by capitalism. "The lads" actively rejected school through the counter school subculture

-Illich: Argues that school is a repressive institution which promote conformity and encourage students into acceptance of exisiting inqualities

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Topic 1- New Right Perspective:

  • New Right Perspective: Education should be concerned with making sure the most able students have their talents developed. Education should socialise young people into collective values, thus build social cohesion and social solidarity to ensure a stable and united society.They favour an education system based on meritocracy and marketization.They believe marketization and an ‘educational free for all’ us the best way to meet the demands of the parents, pupils and employers

-Chubb and Moe: American state education has failed as: Disadvantaged groups have been badly served by state education as it hasn’t given them an equal opportunity, state education is inefficient as it doesn’t teach pupils the skills needed for the economy.They argue a market system would improve quality and efficiency of schools - To do this, they think all parents should be given a voucher to improve on areas of education of their choice.This means schools would be more responsive to the parents wishes.

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Topic 1: Evaluation:

  • Criticisms of the Functionalists view:

Evidence of differential achievement in terms of class,gender and ethnicity suggests that education is not meritocratic. Dennis Wrong: Criticise Parsons- Has a "over socialised view"  of people, Functionalists wrongly imply that pupils passively accept all that they are taught and never reject the school values. "Education legitmizies social inequlaity"- Functionalists. BUT: Bowles and Gintis- Education system disguises the fact that there is no equality of oppertunity in education

  • Criticisms of the Marxists view:

-Conclution of Althusser and Illich:  Education system plays an important role in producing the hegemony (Ruling set of ideas) and hegemonic control (Control of WC achieved through the acceptance) of the ruling class. Criticisms: Tend to be too deterministic- They assume people have no real ability to make decisions and fail to explain how and why many working class children are unsuccessful in education

  • Vocational education: Preparing young people for work and making education meet the  needs of the economy.Functionalists & New Right: Beneficial way as helping to boost the economy, Marxists: See it is as a second rate education. Birdwell et al: Secondary schools routinely neglect pupils with vocational subjects, school fail to help teenagers prepare for the world of work


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