Using information from the items and elsewhere, assess the Marxist view that education benefits the ruling class.
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Using information from the items and elsewhere, assess the Marxist view that education benefits the ruling class. Society is represented by a social class hierarchy. The ruling class ideologies are filtered down through the hierarchy by stratified diffusion. Marxists focus on the Social system and the structuralist theory; they believe that the individual is less important than the social structure of society. They also believe that the ruling class (bourgeoisie) exploit the working class (proletariat). The beliefs of Marxists are apparent in education. Althusser (1972) is a French Marxist. He believes that the main function of education is not the transmission of common values, but the existence as an ideological state apparatus. He believes that the Education institution justifies and reproduces class inequalities through the hidden curriculum. These inequalities include the opinions of capitalists and the norms and values of the bourgeoisie. Proletariat children are taught through socialisation to accept the knowledge they gain in school, including these class inequalities. This supports the Marxist theory that the proletariat are being exploited.
He was not a Marxist but he conducted a study in 1977 'Learning to Labour' which applied the Marxist theory. His study focused on two subcultures in the same school. 'The Lads' were a group of working-class boys aged 14-16 who wanted to do factory work when they left school. They wanted to work in a factory as they often had a number of relatives working there as well and they saw it as a satisfactory career. Their behaviour was often disruptive and unconformative. They had simple humours and were often abusive to girls. The second group of boys which Willis studied was 'The Lobes'. These were boys of a similar age to 'The Lads'. Willis named these boys 'The Lobes' because they listened attentively in class as they wished to become skilled and join apprenticeships. They were conformative, respectful and obedient. From this study, Willis observed that there was a division of culture being created, and different types of conformity existed. The behaviour of each subculture reflected their future employment.
This would work to the ruling class's advantage yet again. Bernstein argues there are two types of linguistic culture, the elaborate and restricted codes of speech. He believes the middle class have the ability to use both codes. In school, a child may use the elaborate code but whilst with their peers, change their culture and use restricted codes such as nicknames etc. However, a working class child may only be able to use the restricted code of speech as they haven't been educated to use the elaborate code. This puts the working class children to an unfair advantage. These two codes of speech act as an advantage to the ruling class. By examining the Marxist theory and their studies, I believe that education does benefit the ruling class. This has been demonstrated by Althusser, Bowles and Gintis, Bourdieu, Bernstein and Willis. It has also been demonstrated through theories such as cultural capital, linguistic culture, habitus, and the 'neutral sieve'. I agree with what most of the Marxist sociologists say as I also believe that the ruling class ideologies are filtered down through education, when things could be made more meritocratic. 08/05/2007 Darryl Morgan
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