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Education And Socialisation Essay

2185 words - 9 pages

Education and Socialisation

Sociologists from various schools of thought would generally agree
that socialisation plays an important part in shaping people and their
roles in society, through institutions like the family, the education
and consequently the workplace. Here, we will look specifically at the
education system and the notion that schools serve to reinforce social
class divisions.

There have been many changes made to the structure of the education
system throughout the past century. These include the 1944 Education
act which made secondary education compulsory and was responsible for
the introduction of the tri-partite system, the move to a
comprehensive system of schools in the 1960´s, to the introduction of
the National Curriculum in 1988. Official statistics would suggest
that these measures have contributed to an increase in the overall
levels of educational attainment (defined by attainment of
qualifications), however, sociological evidence indicated that
class-based inequalities in educational attainment have failed to show
any decline.

It appears that educational success generally rises with family
income, many sociologists see material deprivation as the major cause
of inequality in educational success. Halsey, Heath and Ridge (1980)
examined the education careers of males, and found that those from
higher social backgrounds were much more likely to stay in education
past the minimum leaving age than those from working class
backgrounds. They pointed out that a major reason for this was the
cost of staying in education, and this denied many working class
people from gaining higher-level educational qualifications.
Douglas(1967) also believed that poor living conditions in the home
were major factors in educational failure. In a survey, he divided his
sample into two groups: those who had sole use of household
facilities, such as bathrooms, and those who did not. He found that
the children living in 'unsatisfactory' condition scored much more
poorly on tests that those in 'satisfactory´ conditions. Reason
suggested for this include poor housing conditions and diet leading to
ill health, leading to absence from school, and underperformance while

Of course, sociologists from different schools of thought have very
different opinions on such divisions within schools. Functionalists
would argue that the inequalities that exist within the education
system do so for positive reasons. Talcott Parsons argued that schools
take over from the family as the primary source of socialisation,
transmitting society's norms and values and preparing children for
their role in adult life. School provides the future workforce with
the basic skills required to "enable them to respond to…constantly
changing occupational requirements" (Bilton, Bonnet, Jones,...

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