Outline and assess the view that the role of education system is to justify and reproduce social inequalities

8 August 2016

Outline and assess the view that the role of education system is to justify and reproduce social inequalities (50) The view that the role of educations system is to justify and reproduce social inequalities is one from a Marxist perspective. They believe that capitalism creates inequality and allows those with wealth to keep theirs. Bowles and Gintis argue that there is a very close relationship between education and work. This is called the correspondence principle. Bowles and Gintis argue that in a capitalist society they are known to give children different types of education based on the class than on their actual ability.

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Meaning that schools will give working class children a different type of education in comparison to middle and upper class children. Consequently allowing the working class to stay where they are on the class system, but they also allow the middle and upper class to stay where they are too. Capitalism reaffirms the idea that the working class are required to be hardworking and obedient therefore not resisting the teachers, as this is what they will be required to do when they enter the workforce. The education system creates a future workforce that have the desired qualities by passing on the hidden curriculum to school children.

The hidden curriculum is the things you learn through going to school and the experiences you get there, and not those that you learn in class and through the formal curriculum. The hidden curriculum is there for working class schools to help shape them for the workforce. The hidden curriculum helps create a subservient workforce, meaning that workers will not challenge the system, and have an acceptance of hierarchy. Meaning that when teachers give directions the students will follow them without asking questions, this prepares them for later in life when they are in work.

School subjects have very little reference to each other and that there is not much correlation between each subject. Much like the working class children’s future career as their job may be broken down into small, individual tasks. Whereas in more elite and private schools the children are learnt very different skills, and taught a different set of norms and values. Children at these schools are more likely to be taught to be more in command of the situation that they are in. Bowles and Gintis also reject the idea that the education is meritocratic, and providing equal opportunities for everybody.

Middle class children will gain high qualifications and receive higher pad jobs because of their ability but also through their large quantities of cultural capital. Whereas working class children may not have the same opportunities to receive cultural capital this creating inequalities within the education system, much like the class system. This is called cultural reproduction. Bourdieu believes that education reproduces the culture and class system. It shows the importance of the upper class culture and therefore reinforces the power those have over the working class.

They are allowed to do this by basing the education system off cultural capital, whilst the culture that the working class children are receiving is not on the education system and therefore they lose interest. Bourdieu believes that education has been developed by the bourgeoisie and therefore the working class have never had any real ownership on the education system they are forced to be a part of. However functionalists believe that the education institution is there and built for a reason, that it affects and benefits both the individual and society.

Education allows students to learn and create a shared set of norms and values, therefore creating a similar attitude between everyone. Ultimately allowing a whole society to have values of achievement, competition, and equal opportunities created by education. This is confirmed by Durkheim’s, view that the shared norms and values create social solidarity, allowing the whole society to work in harmony. This can create a skilled workforce as everybody knows what is needed from them and is necessary for the future economy. According to functionalist Parson education is part of a meritocracy, being based on a person’s ability.

He believes that education is a bridge between the family and society. Parson’s believes that education creates a set of values including competition, equality, and individualism. Within a meritocracy every student is given the same opportunity, and that achievements and rewards are based off an individual’s efforts and abilities, thus creating an achieved status. A functionalist like Parsons could state that this achieved status allows individuals to strive for more and as a result choose to work and have a career. Education allows students to be categorised and shown what skills they are best at.

Role allocation, sorts through people according to their ability at different subjects. Davis and Moore stated that the education system was a meritocracy, and that it is based on the individual’s merit and ability, allowing staff to steer them towards the most suitable career for them. This suggests that everybody has an equal opportunity to gain the most important and best paid jobs, as everybody has had the same opportunity. From a functionalist perspective the most important jobs in society are those that require the longest periods in education and that you have spent a long time working your way there.

Therefore Davis and Moore could argue that education is the most important factor in growing up as it is what allows people to be steered into a career. Although a functionalist theorist such as Tumin would argue that those in the highest paid jobs are being rewarded for how hard they have worked. This consequently maintains the meritocratic system, as it implies that we will accept inequality if we know that those with the highest wage are doing the most important jobs.

Just as we can accept that it is okay for somebody to be on a higher wage as long as they have more talent and drive than what we do. In conclusion it can be argued that the education system is there to justify and reproduce social inequalities that has been created thus allowing students to be no further forward when trying to prosper in a system that does not want them to succeed. However from a functionalist perspective it can be seen that every child has an equal opportunity to succeed and that it creates an opportunity for working class children to move up the class system.

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