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Education and the theories of Marxism

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Introduction

´╗┐Melissa Wild Miss Flynn - Sociology Marxism Questions a) Explain what is meant by ?hidden curriculum?. (2marks) All the things taught throughout everyday lives at school which are not formally examined or outlined in the formal curriculum such as obedience, conformity, social control, ethnocentricity and competitiveness for example. b) Suggest 3 other institutions in society that might control people?s ideas and beliefs? apart from education. (6marks) Religion is a big factor in controlling peoples idea?s and beliefs as this is present all over the world not just in our society, also the Media is said to be a growing controller of people?s ideas. Also the Government can control people?s ideas through controlling how society is run through social policy and this will have a significant impact on people?s ideas. c) Outline the postmodernist view of the role of education. (12 marks) Postmodernists claim that society has entered a new phase and is now completely different from the modern society that Marxists and Functionalists have written about. They reject the idea that we live in two-class society and argue that class divisions are no longer important and that society is much more diverse and fragmented so therefore the education system is. ...read more.

Middle

Like other Marxists, Bourdieu argues that the main function of education is to reproduce and legitimize ruling class culture and power. Another important function of education is to socialize the working class into a ?culture of failure? so that they take up, without question, routine and dull work. Bowles and Gintis examine this idea further in their correspondence theory. In their view the education system helps to prevent the poor from rebelling against the system by legitimising class inequalities through producing ideologies that justify inequality. Unlike functionalists such as Parsons, Bowles and Gintis argue that meritocracy does not in fact exist. Evidence shows that the main factor determining whether someone has a high income or not is their family and class background not their ability in education, this clearly supports Bowles and Gintis?s point, this is justified by the ?poor-are-dumb? theory of failure. Morrow and Torress criticise Marxists for taking a class first approach that sees class as key and ignores other factors. Feminist?s make the point eg: Madeline MacDonald that Marxists ignore the fact that schools reproduce not only capitalism but patriarchy too. Bowles and Gintis moved on to develop Althusser?s ideas further they argue that there are close counterparts between schooling and work in the capitalist system. ...read more.

Conclusion

However critics argue that Willis? account of the lads portrays them as working-class heroes despite their anti-social behaviour and sexist attitudes. His small scale study of only 12 boys in one school is unrepresentative of other pupils and you wouldn?t be able to generalise from his findings. A further criticism is made by the Feminist Angela McRobbie who points out that females are largely absent from Willis? study. However, Willis? work has stimulated a great deal of research into how education reproduces and legitimises other inequalities, for example ethnic and gender inequalities. Another criticism of Willis is that he largely ignores the full range of subcultures within schools. Many pupils fall somewhere in between total conformity and total rejection of school values. The Marxist perspective is generally a conflict view on the education system, however many disagree on how the education system is negative for the proletariat/working class. Post-modernists particularly challenge the Marxist viewpoint as outdated, and think that the education system Marxists describe is no longer relevant to today?s society, rather they state that the economy has now shifted away from assembly line mass production and boring factory work and instead requires a skilled adaptable workforce, rather than the low-skilled low-paid obedient workers Willis & Bowles and Gintis describe. They insist that the education system of today must encourage lifelong retraining, motivation, self-supervision and creativity. ...read more.

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