This essay will discuss to what extent can education overcome social inequality? Social inequality means the lack of social equality, whereby individuals in society differ in equal social status. This could be in so many ways such as, racism; sexism; ageism; disability; social class; income levels; and sexuality; but social class; income level and poverty are the main factors.
Social inequality takes place as principles and power is combined together in order to make some individuals better or poorer then others. Education is an important factor in our life’s in order to successed and makes better living for ourselves. Anthony Giddens notes that social class affects everyone
Education is a social institution which affects an individual’s success in life. This means that if you have no formal qualifications you are likely to end up with low paid job and you will not be getting anywhere.
In the traditional societies, skills are passed from generation to generation, however as society became more complicated and different types of work emerged in the production of goods, education developed so that it could teach and pass on the necessary skills required. Education serves to instil the value of individual achievement in a child; it’s for everyone no matter what their background is.
In theory this seems a very good idea but there is very little education can do to overcome social inequality since ascribed inequalities are reproduced in school.
Functionalists believe that society leans towards equilibrium and social order. They also see society as a human body, in which education act like important organs to keep the society/body healthy and well. Social health means the same as social order, and is guaranteed when all most everyone accepts the norms and values of society. Hence structural functionalists believe the aim of key institutions, such as education, is to socialize children and teenagers so that they become productive citizens.
Although the aim of socialising children and teenagers is stated in the formal curriculum, it’s mainly achieved through the hidden curriculum which is more subtle but very powerful indoctrination of the norms and values of society. According to Durkheim, students learn such behaviours at school because they are regulated until they gradually accept them.
Another function that education performs is to sort and rank individuals for placement in the labour market. Therefore those with high achievements will be trained for the most important job and given the highest rewards and incomes. However those with the least achievements will be given the least demanding jobs and least income.
In education, ability alone decides who is to be rewarded and middle-class students are most likely to have the highest achievement, therefore they will be most likely to be given the highest rewards, highest demanding jobs and hence highest income. In addition, many working class students fail to achieve satisfactory standards in school and as a result fail to obtain the deserved status. This can lead to jobs with low/any qualifications requirements, and in the future one can be grouped and even stereotyped as ‘uneducated’.
This according to Jacob is because working class children aren’t properly prepared to cope at school. Education isn’t their main priority. Working class children are programmed intentionally/unintentionally to work, and to provide. Their main concern is to earn, and education isn’t in their life plans.
This becomes a cycle a continuity, where working class children join schools, less prepared than middle class, and then leave school without any/or low qualifications. As a result, they end up with undesirable jobs and therefore remain a working class. This continuity in turn supports the social order, a process functionalist believes is necessary, where education performs for the whole. The structural functionalists agree that this continuity...