The role of the education system is to justify and reproduce social inequalities. Discuss.

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Education system is to justify and reproduce social inequalities

The view that the role of the education is to justify and reproduce social inequalities is a very critical argument, as on one hand functionalists have a harmonious view on the education system as it benefits everyone within it. Parson’s study suggests that education is the most important agency of secondary socialisation as they pass on norms and values of the wider society. However, this rosy picture is depicted differently in the Marxist’s perspective as they see education directly linked to reproducing and legitimising inequality. In this essay I will further expand on these points which I have made in more depth.

        Marxists agree with the view that the education system justifies and reproduce social inequalities, as their approach to education emphasises of how it serves the interests of the ruling class. Marxists deem that the ruling class leave behind their wealth and privilege and also by justifying the vast inequalities that develop underneath capitalism. Bowles and Gintis have identified that education has a close correspondence to work, in particular, the education system must produce a subservient workforce that will work long hours for little pay.  Parental background is also a significant aspect in the reproduction and legitimation of inequality, as students from the less fortunate backgrounds face several barriers when trying to become successful. Bowles and Gintis also learnt that earnings and occupation was not shaped by IQ, in fact it was an individuals class background which had determined their position in the labour market. It also meant that education did not produce a meritocratic system, instead of that it maintained inequality and privilege in society. Marxists also believe that there is reproduction of inequality as the upper-class have the ability to pass their wealth onto their children, hence the working-class (poor) remain how they are. This further explains how the education system maintains the inequality present in society; it also is justified as it constructs an illusion which claims that everyone has an equal chance in society, the same given opportunity. The ideological illusion is how everybody has the same teachers, the same syllabus as well as the opportunity to take the exact, same exam, if they don’t gain from this opportunity and fail they (the poor) will be the one’s to blame for their own failure, however it isn’t the same case for the rich they have earnt their wealth, having worked harder to get where they are as well as being generally smarter. These beliefs show how the education system justifies as well as maintains social inequalities as if you look at the bigger picture it would mean that workers would have to acknowledge and accept their poor pay whilst the capitalists of society get to enjoy their greater amount of wealth, in this sense the education system individualises failure and makes the inequalities just appear normal and present.

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Parsons argues how the school was a vital institution in modern societies, because modern societies are organised on meteoritic principles. Individuals are treated equally by the education system, regardless of their background, and what they achieve is a result of their own efforts rather than parental privilege. Students from different backgrounds receive the same teaching and materials, and the role of education is to help foster equality of opportunity. In addition to this the school helps to transmit the values of achievement and equality of opportunity. This is important because to prevent disorder everyone needs to feel that ...

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