Marxists take a critical view of the role of education. Capitalist society is essentially a two-class system, with a ruling class exploiting the working class. Marxists see education as being run in the interests of the ruling class. For example, Althusser argues that education is an important ideological state apparatus that helps to control people’s ideas and beliefs. He suggests education has two purposes. It reproduces class inequalities through the generations by ensuring that most working-class pupils experience educational failure. Education legitimates this inequality, persuading the working class to accept educational and social inequalities. Other Marxists have also pointed to the existence of a hidden curriculum in schools.
Using material from Item A and elsewhere, assess the contribution of Marxism to our understanding of the role of education. (20 Marks) Marxists believe that in the capitalist society in which we live, it is a “two-class system, with a ruling class exploiting the working class” who believe that education only benefits those pupils from a ruling class background. Society is based on the idea of exploitation and alienation of the working class and Marxists argue that education is the perfect way to achieve this and satisfies the needs of the ruling class as it provides a labour force who are obedient and easily exploitable. Althusser, Bowles and Gintis and Willis all have a different view on the aspects of education. Marxists see the state as the means by which the capitalist ruling class maintain their dominant position. Althusser argues the bourgeoisie uses 2 apparatuses to control people and maintain their power within society. The repressive state apparatus helps to maintain the rule of the bourgeoisie by force or the threat of it, e.g. using the police, courts and army and the ideological state apparatus which maintains the bourgeoisies’ power through controlling people’s ideas, values and beliefs. This includes...
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