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After reading this chapter, you will be able to. This chapter introduces several theories concerning the sociology of education.

Series Editor s : Mark Murphy. The Bloomsbury Social Theory and Methodology in Education Research series brings together books exploring various applications of social theory in educational research design. Each book provides a detailed account of how theory and method influence each other in specific educational research settings, such as schools, early childhood education, community education, further education colleges and universities. Books in the series represent the richness of topics explored in theory-driven education research, including leadership and governance, equity, teacher education, assessment, curriculum and policy studies. This innovative series provides a timely platform for highlighting the wealth of international work carried out in the field of social theory and education research, a field that has grown considerably in recent years and has made the likes of Pierre Bourdieu and Michel Foucault familiar names in educational discourse.

Social Science Theories on Teachers, Teaching, and Educational Systems

The sociology of education is the study of how public institutions and individual experiences affect education and its outcomes. It is mostly concerned with the public schooling systems of modern industrial societies, including the expansion of higher , further , adult , and continuing education.

Education is seen as a fundamentally optimistic human endeavour characterised by aspirations for progress and betterment. Social interactions between people through education is always causing further development no matter what age they are.

It is also perceived as one of the best means of achieving greater social equality. Few would argue that any education system accomplishes this goal perfectly. Some take a particularly critical view, arguing that the education system is designed with the intention of causing the social reproduction of inequality. After World War II , however, the subject received renewed interest around the world: from technological functionalism in the US, egalitarian reform of opportunity in Europe, and human-capital theory in economics.

These all implied that, with industrialization , the need for a technologically skilled labour force undermines class distinctions and other ascriptive systems of stratification, and that education promotes social mobility. However, statistical and field research across numerous societies showed a persistent link between an individual's social class and achievement, and suggested that education could only achieve limited social mobility.

Neo-Marxists argued that school education simply produced a docile labour force essential to late-capitalist class relations.

The sociology of education contains a number of theories. Some of the main theories are presented below. The Political Arithmetic tradition within the sociology of education began with Hogben [4] and denotes a tradition of politically critical quantitative research dealing with social inequalities, especially those generated by social stratification Heath More recent work in this tradition has broadened its focus to include gender, [9] [10] ethnic differentials [11] and international differences.

The political arithmetic tradition was attacked by the 'New Sociology of Education' of the s [15] which rejected quantitative research methods. This heralded a period of methodological division within the sociology of education.

However, the political arithmetic tradition, while rooted in quantitative methods, has increasingly engaged with mixed methods approaches. Structural functionalists believe that society leans towards social equilibrium and social order.

This explains why individuals act as role incumbents and perform specific tasks on a regular basis as manifested at the level of observable event. The relation between teacher and student lies at heart of the realist conception of social structure. The internal relation between roles, distinct from the individual people who fill them and whom they casually affect.

The relation between teacher and student is closely internal because each could not exist without each other. Functionalists view education as one of the more important social institutions in society. They emphasize that education contributes to two types of functions: manifest functions, which are the intended and visible functions of education; and latent functions, which are hidden and unintended functions. There are several major manifest functions associated with education.

The first is socialization. The French sociologist, Emile Durkheim, established the academic discipline of sociology, characterized schools as, "socialization agencies that teach children how to get along with others and prepare them for adult economic roles" Durkheim Socialization involves learning the rules and norms of the society as a whole. One of the roles of schools is to teach students conformity to law and respect for authority. Education is also an important tool used by students towards upward mobility.

Higher learning institutions are viewed as vehicles for moving students closer to their careers that will help them become successful. Education also fulfills latent functions. Much goes on in school that has little to do with formal education. The educational setting introduces students to social networks that might last for years and can help people find jobs after their schooling is completed.

Another latent function is the ability to work with others in small groups, a skill that is transferable to a workplace that might not be learned in a home school setting. Social health means the same as social order, and is guaranteed when nearly everyone accepts the general moral values of their society. Hence structural functionalists believe the aim of key institutions, such as education, is to socialize children and teenagers.

Socialization is the process by which the new generation learns the knowledge, attitudes and values that they will need as productive citizens. Education's primary role is to convey basic knowledge and skills to future generations. Students learn these values because their behavior at school is regulated Durkheim in [3] until they gradually internalize and accept them. Additionally, education is an important tool in the transmission of core values. The core values in education reflect on the economic and political systems that originally fueled education.

One of the most important core value that is transmitted through the education system is individualism, the principle of being independent and self-reliant. From a very early age children learn that society seeks out and praises the best individuals. Connected to individualism, self-esteem is also developed through educational curriculum. Compared to Japanese students for example, curriculum in Japan is focused on social esteem focusing on bringing honor to a group rather than self-esteem.

Education must also perform another function: As various jobs become vacant, they must be filled with the appropriate people. Therefore, the other purpose of education is to sort and rank individuals for placement in the labor market [Munro, ]. Those with high achievement will be trained for the most important jobs and in reward, be given the highest incomes.

Those who achieve the least, will be given the least demanding intellectually at any rate, if not physically jobs, and hence the least income. According to Sennet and Cobb however, "to believe that ability alone decides who is rewarded is to be deceived". They are therefore "cooled out" [23] from school with the least qualifications, hence they get the least desirable jobs, and so remain working class.

Sargent confirms this cycle, arguing that schooling supports continuity, which in turn supports social order. The perspective of conflict theory , contrary to the structural functionalist perspective, believes that society is full of vying social groups with different aspirations, different access to life chances and gain different social rewards.

Where teachers have softened the formality of regular study and integrated student's preferred working methods into the curriculum, they noted that particular students displayed strengths they had not been aware of before. This knowledge isn't very meaningful to many of the students, who see it as pointless. Sargent believes that for working-class students, striving to succeed and absorbing the school's middle class values, are accepting their inferior social position as much as if they were determined to fail.

The federal government subsidises 'independent' private schools enabling the rich to obtain 'good education' by paying for it.

In this way, the continuation of privilege and wealth for the elite is made possible in continuum. Conflict theorists believe this social reproduction continues to occur because the whole education system is overlain with ideology provided by the dominant group.

In effect, they perpetuate the myth that education is available to all to provide a means of achieving wealth and status. Anyone who fails to achieve this goal, according to the myth, has only themselves to blame. They have been encouraged to believe that a major goal of schooling is to strengthen equality while, in reality, schools reflect society's intention to maintain the previous unequal distribution of status and power [Fitzgerald, cited in [3] ].

Conflict theorists point to several key factors to defend their position. First, conflict theorists look at property tax. Typically, the areas of affluent districts have more money, so they can afford to pay teachers higher salaries, purchase new technology, and attract better teachers.

Students in these districts are typically white, which means a majority of minority students in the United States do not receive any of these advantages and are less likely to go to college. This connects to the conflict theorist viewpoint that the educational system is simply a perpetuator of the status quo. Additionally, conflict theorists including Bowles and Gintis argued that schools directly reproduce social and economic inequalities embedded in the capitalist economy. They believed that this conflict played out in classrooms where students were marked by larger and highly stratified economic structure.

Whether or not current leaders in sociology agreed with Bowles and Gintis, they all undeniably came to operate in fields guided by these ideas. This perspective has been criticised as deterministic and pessimistic, while there is some evidence for social mobility among disadvantaged students.

It should be recognised however that it is a model, an aspect of reality which is an important part of the picture. This theory of social reproduction has been significantly theorised by Pierre Bourdieu who aimed at analyzing social class inequalities in education. Bourdieu has therefore built his theoretical framework around the important concepts of habitus , field and cultural capital. These concepts are based on the idea that objective structures determine individuals' chances, through the mechanism of the habitus, where individuals internalise these structures.

However, the habitus is also formed by, for example, an individual's position in various fields, their family and their everyday experiences. Therefore, one's class position does not determine one's life chances, although it does play an important part, alongside other factors. Bourdieu used the idea of cultural capital to explore the differences in outcomes for students from different classes in the French educational system.

He explored the tension between the conservative reproduction and the innovative production of knowledge and experience. Bourdieu argues that it is the culture of the dominant groups, and therefore their cultural capital, which is embodied in schools, and that this leads to social reproduction. James Coleman also focused a lot on the themes of social reproduction and inequality.

Coleman inspired many of the current leaders of sociology of education, but his work also led to a heightened focus on empiricism. The cultural capital of the dominant group, in the form of practices and relation to culture, is assumed by the school to be the natural and only proper type of cultural capital and is therefore legitimated.

It demands "uniformly of all its students that they should have what it does not give" [Bourdieu [31] ]. This legitimate cultural capital allows students who possess it to gain educational capital in the form of qualifications. Those lower-class students are therefore disadvantaged. To gain qualifications they must acquire legitimate cultural capital, by exchanging their own usually working-class cultural capital. Class ethos is described as the particular dispositions towards, and subjective expectations of, school and culture.

It is in part determined by the objective chances of that class. The subjective expectations influenced by the objective structures found in the school, perpetuate social reproduction by encouraging less-privileged students to eliminate themselves from the system, so that fewer and fewer are to be found as one journeys through the levels of the system.

The process of social reproduction is neither perfect nor complete, [30] but still, only a small number of less-privileged students achieve success.

For the majority of these students who do succeed at school, they have had to internalise the values of the dominant classes and use them as their own, to the detriment of their original habitus and cultural values. Therefore, Bourdieu's perspective reveals how objective structures play an important role in determining individual achievement in school, but allows for the exercise of an individual's agency to overcome these barriers, although this choice is not without its penalties. Drawing on Bourdieu's ideas, Fuller [34] adds to the theoretical understanding of structure and agency by considering how young people shape their educational identity and how this identity is often the result of messages reflected at them, for example, through grades, setting and gendered expectations.

Social location is considered important but its role is complex. Her work considered the importance of understanding the ways that individuals identify within an academic discourse, a discourse that typically situates young people dichotomously; as those who will achieve and those that will not. Understanding the importance of areas such as self-efficacy, confidence and resilience in shaping educational identity at the level of agent and subsequently, educational attainment and aspirations, has been central to her most recent work.

Murphy, M. (ed.) (2013) Social Theory and Education Research. Routledge: Oxon

School is one of the first institutions that an individual encounters in the socialization process. The individual is socialized in this smaller society and prepared to move into adulthood and society at large. This seminal research work is built on three fundamental tenets of sociology: the school is a central institution in society; the school is a social system; and social events depend on the interaction of macro- and micro-level processes. The Handbook is divided into the following sections:. The Handbook of the Sociology of Education provides a comprehensive overview of the field of education from a sociological perspective. Experts in this area present theoretical and empirical research on major educational issues and analyze the social processes that govern schooling, as well as the role of schools in and their impact on contemporary society.


Social Theory and EducationResearch is divided into four sections. Each section consists of three chapters dedicated to a particular philosopher/social theorist.


Sociology of education

Functionalists point to other latent roles of education such as transmission of core values and social control. The core values in American education reflect those characteristics that support the political and economic systems that originally fueled education. Therefore, children in America receive rewards for following schedules, following directions, meeting deadlines, and obeying authority. The most important value permeating the American classroom is individualism —the ideology that advocates the liberty rights , or independent action, of the individual.

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Alex Law. Relational approaches to social theory and the crisis of education. N2 - Only relational, hybrid social theory can offer an effective means of human orientation to guide, explain and verify definite empirical processes in the present. Relational social theory builds selectively on what it inherits from the past rather than begin with a zero-point rupture or break in the present much too preoccupied with the new, topical or spectacular. Nor does it begin from preexisting substances or a rigid division of disciplinary knowledge.

Functionalists believe that education equips people to perform different functional roles in society.

Introduction

School is one of the first institutions that an individual encounters in the socialization process. The individual is socialized in this smaller society and prepared to move into adulthood and society at large. This seminal research work is built on three fundamental tenets of sociology: the school is a central institution in society; the school is a social system; and social events depend on the interaction of macro- and micro-level processes. The Handbook is divided into the following sections:. The Handbook of the Sociology of Education provides a comprehensive overview of the field of education from a sociological perspective. Experts in this area present theoretical and empirical research on major educational issues and analyze the social processes that govern schooling, as well as the role of schools in and their impact on contemporary society. The book is a major reference work for social scientists, graduate students, and educators who want an overview of the field.

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Although education researchers have drawn on the work of a wide diversity of theorists, a number of these have been of particular significance to education.

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Although education researchers have drawn on the work of a wide diversity of theorists, a number of these have been of particular significance.

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