by Sam Cook a former student
From the 1960s onwards, feminist sociologists highlighted the following gender inequalities in society. Feminists argue that the education system is just a primary preparation for leading into the future work force. They argue the gender differences in subject choice in schools come is evidence of a patriarchal society. Colley (1998) reviewed this idea and found that despite all the social changes in recent decades, traditional definitions of masculinity and femininity were still widespread as evident below.
Gender and education – Feminist perspectives focus on gender inequalities in society. Feminist research has revealed the extent of male domination and the ways in which male supremacy has been maintained. From a feminist viewpoint, one of the main roles of education has been to maintain gender inequality.
Gendered language – reflecting wider society, school textbooks (and teachers) tend to use gendered language – ‘he’, ‘him’, ‘his’, ‘man’…
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Marxist perspective by Sam Cook a former student
Marx’s position about the ruling class was they have the power to control the working classes not with force but with ideas. These ideas justify their dominant position and conceal the true source of their power along with their exploitation of the subject class. Remember: Marxism is a belief that capitalism allows the owners of capital (the ruling-class or bosses) to exploit the workers (employees) and this causes conflict between the two classes (known as social-class conflict).
In Marx’s view this ruling class ideology is far more effective in controlling the subject classes than physical force, as it is hidden from the consciousness of the subject class – this is known as ‘false consciousness’. One example Marxists might use is the role of meritocracy in education to control the working classes by getting the working classes used to being rewarded for…
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What is the hidden curriculum? – as well as the formal curriculum (maths, English, PE etc) schools also teach norms and values to their students – this is known as the hidden curriculum.
Examples of norms and values we’re taught are being punctual to lessons, dressing smartly in school uniform, working hard to achieve your best and receiving rewards for those efforts . It’s called the hidden curriculum because you don’t have formal timetabled lessons on dressing smartly, instead your teachers constantly remind you to be punctual or ‘tuck your shirt in’. You also learn respect for authority and following instructions
It is important to recognise that Functionalists appreciate the virtues of the hidden curriculum as being good at secondary socialising students to:
- look smart via the school uniform
- punctuality through disciplining people who are late
- shows children how to follow instructions
- as well how to read and follow a…
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functionalist perspective by Sam Cook a former student
In same way the Family module has competing perspectives so too does the education unit.
The first perspective we’ll look at is the functionalistperspective. As you will remember functionalists look at the function or role of an institution in society in keeping the social body ‘functioning’ (working) properly. Functionalists usually begin their sociological analysis with the following questions:
- How does education contribute to the maintenance and wellbeing of society?
- What are the relationships between education and other parts of the social system?
Emile Durkheim (functionalist) – writing over 100 years ago that one of the main functions of education is to bind members of society together – this creates social unity and solidarity. Therefore like the family, education is seen as functional prerequisite because it passes on the culture of a society particularly its core values.
Talcott Parsons (a functionalist)
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The effects of being placed in lower bands/streams was researched by Paul Lacey (1970) in his study of Hightown Grammar School which sowed how streaming can lead to the formation of anti-school subcultures. Paul Willis (1997) also researched the effects of streaming/banding in his book ‘Learning to Labour’.
Paul Willis’ study is still relevant today as there’s a persistence of counter school cultures in contemporary societies despite the ‘drying-up’ of manual labouring jobs. You only have to think of the number of NEETS and the increasing number of white working-class males failing school.
Paul Willis’ ‘Learning to Labour’ is a significant study for two reasons. Firstly his research followed a group of lads in the 1970s that rejected school and all its values and instead focused on leaving school as soon as they could.
In the meantime while they did attend school they spent most of their time trying to…
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