The AS Families and Households paper was today, so good luck to all who are recovering from the ordeal.  I’m moving on to cover some of the material needed for the AS Education topic. First off today, education and the sociological perspectives.

You need to know the usual perspectives here: Functionalism, Marxism, Interactionism and Feminism. But in addition, you need to know something of political views, as they are so important in policy, and postmodernism because it is, or was - a more recent addition to theory.


Make sure you know about Parsons and Davis and Moore.  The key concepts are the functionalist view of role allocation, secondary socialisation, and meritocracy.


Key names here are Bowles and Gintis, Althusser and Paul Willis - although the latter is more of a ‘cultural’ Marxist.  Key ideas are the hidden curriculum, social control, reproduction of labour power.  You can also draw on the Marxist concept of alienation to explain pupil disaffection.


Lots of inspirational and seminal studies from this perspective. Howard Becker, Rosenthal and Jacobsen, labelling theory, banding and streaming.


Remember that feminists are not all the same; there are radical, liberal, Marxist, Black, and Post-, feminists.  The key idea - patriarchy of course.  But make sure you can define it succinctly.


This can be tricky to apply to education.  The simplest way though, I think, is to focus on social change and argue that postmodernists would suggest education is changing to cope with the change from fordism to postfordism, and societies are becoming increasingly fragmented.  Therefore, what we are seeing is a greater choice and diversity of types of school and education. 

The Political perspectives

important to know these - they can be used in perspective questions where relevant, but most often come up in questions focusing on policy.  You should notice that some political theories have similarities to sociological perspectives - but remember the difference between sociological and political perspectives in this context.  Sociological theories are explanations - the political theories discussed here are normative - that is, they are deliberately aiming to give a point of view, to say how they believe education should be organised.  This is something the sociological approaches try to avoid, whatever you may think about how successful they are in doing that.

New Right

Popular in the 1980s e.g. Margaret Thatcher.  In education the New Right view was that education should be open to competition and thus there should be league tables. The New Right also believed in maintaining traditional standards of learning and teaching - the so-called ‘3R’s’.

Social Democratic Views

Covers a broad range of views and elements can be found in Labour, LibDem and even Conservative policies. Social Democracy though is a middle way between the free market right and the socialist left. It advocates a mixed economy and believes the state should help the poor and disadvantaged and act like a referee - ensuring people and society stick to the rules and behave properly. In education policy this has meant - providing state schools and free education for all, giving extra resources and help to those who need it.  Providing grants and help for able pupils who cannot afford fee paying educational institutions, whether they be schools or establishments of higher education.

Until tomorrow, adieu.

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