Outline and assess the view that the role of the education system is to reproduce and transmit culture

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Outline and assess the view that the role of the education system is to reproduce and transmit culture.

This essay will outline and asses the view that the view that the role of the education system is to reproduce and transmit culture.

According to Bourdieu, the major of the education system is cultural reproduction. This does involve society as a whole, as Durkheim argued, but, instead, the reproduction of the culture of the ‘dominant classes’. These groups have the power the power to ‘impose meanings and to impose them as legitimate’. They are able to define there own culture as ‘worthy of being sought and possessed’, and to establish is as the basis for knowledge in the educational system. The high value placed on dominant culture in society as a whole simply stems from the ability of the powerful to impose their definition of reality in other. The possession of dominant culture is referred to as cultural capital by Bourdieu. This is because via the education it can be translated into wealth and power. Children of dominant classes acquire skills and knowledge from pre-school which puts them in an advantage because they have the key to understanding what is being transmitted in the classroom. Bourdieu claims that, since the education system presupposes the possession of cultural capital, which few students in fact possess, there is a great deal of inefficiency in teaching. This is because working students simply do not understand what their teachers are trying to get across. This puts working class students are at disadvantage in the competition for educational credentials, the results of this competition are seen as meritocratic and therefore as legitimate. In addition, Bourdieu claims that social inequalities are legitimated by the educational credentials held by those in dominant positions. According to Bourdieu the education system attaches the highest value to legitimate taste.  Those who have legitimate find it easier succeed in education and are likely to stay on longer.  Legitimate taste shapes the teachers perception of their pupils. Unconsciously, teachers recognise different tastes and the types of behaviour typical of different classes. Working class students are more likely to fail exams or will leave education of their own free will because they know that any real chance of success is slim. All these arguments lead Bourdieu to conclude that the main function of the education system is to transmit the culture of the dominant classes and to reproduce the ruling and working class.

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It can be argued that Bourdieu theory is correct because of the existence of a private education system. Students of private schools were mainly from middle class backgrounds and were disproportionately found in the jobs in the UK. A study done by Roker in 1998 suggest that private schools transmit a hidden curriculum, geared to leadership, hierarchy and elitism, that is different from the messages transmitted by state schools. There was a survey which was conducted in the year 2000 by the Cambridge student newspaper. It found that one in five of students at Cambridge had a parent who ...

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