A Comparision of the Work of Paul Willis with Respect to Bowles and Gintis
During the 1800s it was a starting point for a sociological
perspective based on the ideas of Karl Marx (1813-83). They were ideas
of conflict and inequality in education, families and household.
In 1976 followers of the Marxist approach Bowles and Gintis conducted
a survey of the education system, which provided them with similar
information to that of Karl Marx. Then in 1977 Paul Willis provided a
critical analysis of that of Bowles and Gintis and conducted his own
survey as a Neo-Marxist of the education system (Learning to Labour).
Although both views were based on the sociological perspective of Karl
Marx there was a considerable difference.
Paul Willis research was carried out between 1972 and 1975 it took
three years. He travelled round following 12 working class boys deemed
“the ladz”. They represented everything that school didn’t they were
completely the opposite. They didn’t want individual promotion, no
qualifications, and no job that required training or job satisfaction.
The students who did everything that was expected of them were
labelled “ the earoles”.
Compared to Bowles and Gintis, Willies investigation was carried out
very differently. His study was a small-scale view; it was micro and
therefore was an interpretivist’s view of society rather than that of
Bowles and Gintis, which was a structuralist’s view of society. It was
macro. For example when studying the education system Bowles and
Gintis would look at education as a whole and study things like social
class and origin of background from this they would draw up a
conclusion to why students behave as they do and why they end up in
Whereas Willies actually went to the main source of the study where
everything was going on, the foundations. He went into the classroom
and conducted his research there. Willis research is an example of an
eclectic approach to sociology, composed of elements drawn from a
variety of sources. He uses an ethnographic and interactinalist
approach, the study of individual human societies (the ladz) and a
perspective focusing on particularly on how individuals respond.
This is a major difference between the two investigations.
Bowles and Gintis believe that the hidden curriculum teaches ideology
of the social system. It disguises the unfairness of the system and
tries to make you accept it. It tries to legitimate inequality and
make it seem normal. It makes them experience what Marxists describe
as false class-consciousness and that they are not aware of their true
identity. They say that the pupils don’t really question the hidden
curriculum they just fail in life. The reason why they end up in
factories is because they have rejected the messages of the education