• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

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

Extracts from this document...


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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Work & Leisure section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Work & Leisure essays

  1. 'The function of education is to reproduce and legitimate social inequality. Discuss.'

    Schools confirm to pupils the status to which they are born rather than being a neutral influence. Berg claims that the education system is said to encourage ambition and aspirations through 'glittering prizes' when more often than not it actually dampens down their dreams by claiming that their sights have been set 'unrealistically high'.

  2. 'Education is a tool of the ruling class'- Discuss.

    From our experiences at school our views, attitudes and behaviour are affected over a range of facets of adult life. School has both a very blatant and important social role, along with the family and other units. The Marxist theory has focused a lot on the analysis of education especially in relation to its roles.

  1. According to Marxist, the main aim of the education system is to provide capitalist ...

    From birth a girl has her position and role within society outlined. As she grows she is made aware of her duties and of what is expected of her. As a result a certain stereotype attached to girls, in which they are assumed to be domestically inclined and centered on the 'internal' world of the home, where they serve men.

  2. Examination of the Functionalist view that schools serve the interests of both society and ...

    They argue that meritocracy in society is a myth, which merely reduces the discontent of those who are least successful, and that the education system is just something that serves the needs of capitalism by legitimating inequality and thus preventing conflict.

  1. a) With reference to the Items and elsewhere, assess the view that the introduction ...

    The Education Reform Act of 1988 allows schools to recruit extra pupils if there is a demand rather than having a limit imposed by the local education authorities, which occurred before the act. Open enrolment was seen as away of rewarding successful schools and encouraging schools to bring about improvements.

  2. Examine the Reasons for Differences in Educational Achievement between Different Ethnic Groups

    Bernard Coard (1971) suggested that white teachers often thought that such children were stupid because they failed to respond correctly to instructions. This is usually because they were treated as English speakers, yet they often could not fully understand the teacher's form of English.


    The lads in Willis' study took little notice of teacher labelling. Willis', study of 'the Lads' was 'Marxist ethnography'; participant observation and unstructured interviewing interpreted within an overall Marxist structure. The problem with this approach as with all interpretivism however, is that of interpretation; Willis interprets the behaviour of 'the

  2. A discussion of the theory that class-based differences in educational achievement are mainly due ...

    prophesy, believing that if someone is labelled in a particular way, other will respond to their behaviour in terms of that label, and the person will act in terms of that label, resulting in a self-fulfilling prophesy. This has been illustrated in studies by Rosenthal & Jacobson, where it has

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work