The debate outlined above suggests that some sociologists believe that education benefits the ruling class, however other sociologists may argue that education benefits everyone or just men. To address this issue I will be looking at both sides of the argument and I will assess to what extent sociologists agree that education benefits the ruling class.
Some sociologists; such as Marxist agree with the statement above that education benefits the ruling class. One reason for this is that they believe that education brings about social class reproduction, to benefit them. This means that rich can afford to go to big successful private schools, and then go onto having successful jobs, whereas the poor will continue being poor, as they cannot afford to go to private schools and therefore will not achieve the same grades as the ruling class and will not get as well paid jobs. They believe that the working class do not achieve in education because of their material deprivation and cultural deprivation meaning that the working class will not achieve as much as the ruling class, as they cannot afford to buy books, tutors or equipment like the ruling class can.
Another reason Marxists agree with this statement is because they believe that through education the wealthy learn to rule, and the working class learn to be ruled. They believe that there is a hidden curriculum where the working class learn respect, authority, punctuality and hard work. This will then prepare them to be obedient workers for the ruling class, who will then exploit them to make a profit.
Furthermore, Marxists believe that education transmits ideology; this means it puts the working class in a false consciousness this means that the working class cannot see that education therefore they do not start to revolve, and do anything about it. According to Marxists meritocracy is just a myth, and education is not fair as it favours the wealthy.
On the other hand, other sociologists such as functionalists disagree that education benefits the ruling class. According to the functionalism education benefits the whole of society. They believe that the main purpose of education is secondary socialisation; this is where pupils learn important norms and values e.g. respect, manners, punctuality, and hard work. They learn this through social control and sanctions; these sanctions could be punishments, rewards, formal or informal. Functionalists believe that education helps maintain order in society, and without order there would be chaos (anomie). They also believe that education provides a sense of national identity, like being a British citizen.
Another reason that functionalists disagree with the statement is because they believe that education performs occupational role allocation, this is where pupils will get a job according to their talents or skills therefore the most talented or most skilled will get the highest paid jobs. Functionalists believe that education provides the institution of work with skilled workers; this is the idea of organic analogy, where each institution is society work together to benefit one another.
Functionalists claim that education is a meritocracy and that education is fair and based on equality of opportunity. They also believe that education provides an opportunity of social mobility, where the working class can move up the social class system if they work hard enough. Another function of education is that it provides child minding, therefore when the child is at school it allows both parents to work and earn money.
Another view this is the feminists view, they disagree that education benefits the ruling class, however they believe that education benefits men. They claim that the role of education is to benefit males, to maintain a patriarchal society, where men dominate society. They do this by socialising students into traditional gender roles, where the females learn to be a housewife and the males learn to be the breadwinner. This is achieved through subject choice, and career advice, these are often based on stereotypes. For example, males will learn engineering at school, whereas females will not more domestic subjects such as cooking and sewing.
However, this view may not be as relevant today as since the 1980s girls have been achieving better at all levels, which suggests that society is now less patriarchal and girls now have more opportunities.
After assessing both sides of the argument, it is evident that education does benefit both the ruling class, and the working class. I think this because although education doesn’t benefit the working class as much, it does teach them important morals such as not to steal etc., I also believe that the education does benefit the ruling class, as it teaches them skills for the future, however I feel as though education is no long patriarchal as girls are achieving better then boys. Overall, I have come to the conclusion that education benefits everyone, some maybe not so much, but I believe everyone gains from education whether it is skills to work, or morals.
Courtney from Study Moose
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