Assess the Argument That the Main Function of Education Is to Reproduce the Social Class Structure.

Topics: Sociology, Working class, Marxism Pages: 3 (935 words) Published: October 25, 2012
The social class structure in the society is reproduced in many ways. One of the ways is through education. Many believes that the main function of education is not to educate the younger generation, instead is to replicate the social class structure one generation after the other. Certainly, many contrasting opinions have been expressed by different sociologists and explanations are made to justify their point of view.

Marxists believe that education serves the needs of the economic base of the society, along with other ideals such as religion, family, mass media and politics. Without education and the other ideals as the superstructure, the society will collapse when only the means and relations of production existing as the economic base. Also, in Marxists’ point of view, education only serves two purposes: to reproduce inequalities and social relations of productions and to justify these inequalities through meritocracy. However, Althusser, the neo-Marxist in 1971, points out that education is an Idealogical State Apparatus (ISA), just like media, family and other ideals as well. The main function of education is to pass on the common values in order to maintain and reproduce class discrimination in wealth and authority, generation after generation. This then continues to produce capitalism without the need to enforce it into the society, in the same way ideology is spread subconsciously. Althusser argues that a hidden curriculum exists to achieve this result; the way schools are organized and how knowledge is taught encourages the working class to abide by the rules of the capitalist society and accept the discrimination and failure without any sign of protest. In 1977, Bourdieu called the act of accepting failure and higher class authority “Symbolic Violence”.

Education acts as a reproduction tool for the capitalist relations of production, Bowles and Gintis (1976) argues. The capitalist relations of production is the hierarchy structure of...
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