Assess the view that the main function of the education system is to reproduce and legitimise social inequalities

940 words 4 pages
The education system has faults and many inequalities throughout it. The inequalities can be seen in many different areas including, meritocracy, different social classes, gender and ethnic inequalities, racism, cultural capital, and repressive state apparatuses etc. Various sociologists have different views about the education system and what the inequalities consist of.
The neo-Marxist Althusser (1971) disagrees that the main function of the education is the transmission of common values. He thinks that education is an ideological state apparatus and its main function is to maintain, Legitimate and reproduce, generation by generation, class inequalities in wealth and power by transmitting capitalist values disguised as common values.
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Pupils that attend secondary moderns may be more relaxed towards their work as they are not in an environment where they know they are doing well so will not be as determined as higher class students. This is a case of reproduction and causes the same classes to have a better education and have better paid jobs when they are older.
Cultural disadvantages are also a major cause of inequalities throughout education. Education is mostly controlled by middle-class people, many whom are white. These who have these characteristics may be seen more positively and be more likely to succeed in the tests and exams created to assess their abilities. The 11+ has been criticized for middle-class bias. Being able to unscramble muddled up words to make a word is much easier for a child familiar with anagrams (as parents do crosswords). Research into language has identified class differences in spoken and written language which disadvantage working-class children. Middle classes do better as they use the preferred way of speaking. Cultural capital is used by Marxists to explain cultural influences on educational success. Bourdieu and Passeron (1977) suggest that middle-class culture is as valuable in educational terms as material wealth. Schools are middle-class institutions run by middle class. Knowledge, values, ways of interacting and communicating ideas that middle-class children possess are developed further and rewarded by