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Examine the ways in which educational policies may reproduce and justify social class inequalities

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Introduction

Examine the ways in which educational policies may reproduce and justify social class inequalities The Macro, Structuralist theory of education is said to be meritocratic from a functionalist perspective, creating equality of opportunity for all. The Marxist perspective challenges this and sees education as part of societies ideological state (Althuser 1972), controlled by policies. These policies have, in effect contradicted the theory of equality of opportunity. Over the past several years sociologists have investigated how social class affects people's success and opportunities throughout education. Their finding clearly show students are treated differently dependant upon their class. The higher your class the more success you will have. When looking at social inequalities the first areas to consider are the processes within the school itself, in particular the labelling imposed upon students primarily by teachers. Ball (1981) studied labelling within schools and found that teachers have different expectations from students of different classes; in particular they had higher expectations of middle class students and looked more favourably upon them. This was further supported by Keddie (1971) and Becker (1971). They proposed that negative labelling of students can lead to a self fulfilling prophecy of failure. Teachers evaluate pupils in terms of an ideal student by looking at appearance, personality, speech and social class. ...read more.

Middle

Pupils who passed their 11+ and went to grammar school were automatically seen as being upper class, regardless of their mental and academic capabilities. Children who failed their 11+ had to attend one of the other two schools and they were seen as failures because they failed their exam. This links back to the negative labelling theory and directly implicates the Education Act as the culprit for social inequalities and also psychological harm to children labelled as a failure. In addition to the in school factors it is worthwhile considering out of school factors. The main factor would be material deprivation. Halsey (1980) found that the most important factor preventing working class students staying on at school was lack of financial support. Once children reach the age of 15 they are able to leave school and it is no surprise that many working class children do leave school as they do not have the money to continue. This is clearly a result of a rigid Marxist society. Society makes it easy for people to leave school if they have no money so they can enter the workforce as obedient, docile workers, leaving room for the rich and middle classes to fill the high powered positions within society, fitting the ideological state theory. ...read more.

Conclusion

Their efforts are fair and somewhat admirable but they still reproduce inequalities. Money and ambition play the largest role in whether students can continue their education once thy reach 15. Government funding and EMA have recently been introduced but for some it is still not enough money to support themselves therefore the idea of entering the workforce is more appealing. It is comforting that the government takes education so seriously but what they are indirectly doing is removing the people from lower class backgrounds from education as quickly as possible and leaving middle class "respectable" citizens in education so that they can enter the workforce and fill the high powered, top positions. Hyman (1967) suggested that the values of the working class are a self imposed barrier to improving their position. He said that the working class tend to place a low value on education. Whereas Sugarman (1970) said that pupils from non manual backgrounds and manual backgrounds have different outlooks on life. Manual background pupils lived for immediate gratification and pupils from non manual backgrounds were ambitious and deferred their gratification by spending time studying and planning for the future. Is this true or is it simply due to the fact that we live in a Marxist society where the government imposes strict educational policies to push out the working class and concentrate on their precious ideology of a society ruled by middle class, rich powerful citizens. ...read more.

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