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Discuss the view that the educational system is an ideological conditioning device.

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Discuss the view that the educational system is an ideological conditioning device. It is argued by Marxist that the educational system in capitalist society is an effective tool used by the ruling class to justify their position, conceal the true source of their power and disguise their exploitation of the subject class. The Sociologist Louis Althuser claims that education is an ideological state apparatus which largely runs in order to socialise children into acceptance of their subordinate class position - Education functions to ensure that the minority capitalist class continues unchallenged to dominate the disproportionately and unfairly elite positions, and to make sure the working class continue to take on manual jobs in which the value of their labour far outstrips the wage they are paid. The American economists and Sociologist Bowles and Gintis argue hat the major role of education in Capitalist societies is the reproduction of labour power. According to Bowles and Gintis the correspondence theory provides the key t understanding the working of the educational system: "Education is subservient to the needs of those who control the workforce, the owners of the means of production" (Haralambos and Halborn) ...read more.


However supporters of private education believe it to be an essential part of a free market and argue that parents should have the right to choose what type of education they want for their children and how to spend their money. Some have argues that the focus on choice and diversity has created a hierarchy of educational institutions based on forms of selection rather than equal opportunities. In the secondary school sector, grammar schools practice overt selection whilst selection my mortgage is becoming a norm in comprehensive schools as middle-class parent buy houses in middle-class areas with good comprehensives. The focus on parental choice and league tables has created an incentive for schools to be more selective in their intake and to exclude children likely to perform badly. The disproportionate inequalities in achievement experienced by groups such as the working-class and in particular ethnic minorities in the British education system also undermine the concept of meritocracy. The cultural-deprivation of achievement theory blames working-class culture for lack of achievement. It suggests that the reason working-class children fail is because their home culture is inadequate, especially in terms of parental attitudes, child-rearing practices and language development. ...read more.


Bowles and Gintis have also been criticised for ignoring the influence of the formal curriculum. David Reynolds claims that much of the curriculum in British schools des not promote the development of an ideal employer under capitalism It does not seem designed to teach either the skills needed by employers, nor the uncritical passive behaviour which makes workers easy to exploit. It might be added that the popularity of sociology as a subject in Britain could hardly be seen as unthinking workers. It can also be argued that the education system is more meritocratic than Marxists would acknowledge. Working-class pupils are doing well within the education system, improving examination results - also the increasing numbers of working class pupils entering university - class is less of a barrier than ever. In conclusion I believe that the Marxist view is less influential than the Functionalist view of education. In my opinion I do not think that the education system only exists in Capitalist society as an effective tool used by the ruling class to justify their position. I think that the Functionalist perspective is more persuasive and that education does offer the opportunity to move outside of the class structure and expectations, allowing comprehensive pupils to achieve position on wealth and power. ...read more.

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