How Does Marxism Explain the Role of Education in Society?

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How Does Marxism Explain the Role of Education in Society?

By | November 2012
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How does Marxism explain the role of education in society?

The sociology of education is the study of how public institutions and individual experiences affect education and its outcomes. It is most concerned with the public schooling systems of modern industrial societies, including the expansion of higher, further, adult, and continuing education. Education has always been seen as a fundamentally optimistic human endeavour characterised by aspirations for progress and betterment. It is understood by many to be a means of overcoming handicaps, achieving greater equality and acquiring wealth and social status (Education and Sociology 1992). Education is perceived as a place where children can develop according to their unique needs and potential. It is also perceived as one of the best means of achieving greater social equality. Many would say that the purpose of education should be to develop every individual to their full potential and give them a chance to achieve as much in life as their natural abilities allow (meritocracy). However some take a particularly negative view, arguing that the education system is designed with the intention of causing the social reproduction of inequality and creating a workforce for society. One of the main sociological approaches that use theory to explain the role of education is Marxism. The Marxist perspective is critical of the educational system, arguing that it is unfair, and serves to coerce people into accepting their “roles” in an unequal society. The concept of the ‘hidden curriculum’ is key in the understanding of the Marxist perspective. The aim of the hidden curriculum is to socialise young people into accepting the role assigned to them by the capitalist class. It is argued the teachers subconsciously deliver this ‘hidden curriculum’ making pupils aware of the respect and obedience that should be given towards the established organisation [Karl Marx, 1983]. As well as this, subtle skills such as time keeping...

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