2nd place part 2 - College of the Canyons

Sociology of
How Educational Institutions Divide us into Hierarchies & Classes
David Tushin
SOCI – 101
A Sociological Perspective
• History of Education
• Sociological Perspectives
– Functionalist
– Conflict Theory
– Social Reproduction
• Meritocracy
• Pierre Bourdieu Capital
• Modern Cases of Social Mobility & Education
Hx of Education
Relationship between education and
social mobility
How schools influence social
Studies concentrated on the
relationship between class and
educational opportunity. There was
great optimism concerning the power
of education to transform society.
What needed transforming was the
wastefulness of the existing school
system. The search was on for ways
in which schools could maximize their
pupils' talents.
Deprivation was traced to the failure
of the working class family, faulty
socialization, restricted language and
low expectations
Émile Durkheim
• Functionalism is a theory
of social transmission
• Functionalists draw on
Evolution in the natural
– Societies fulfill basic
functions to survive
– They develop specialized
structures to carry out
those functions
– The overall health of the
society depends upon the
health of each structure
Émile Durkheim on Education
“Education is the influence exercised by adult
generations on those that are not yet ready for
social life. Its object is to arouse and to develop
in the child a certain number of physical,
intellectual, and moral states which are
demanded by him by both the political society
as a whole and special milieu for which he is
specifacaly destines…” (Ballantine)
Social Structures (Institutions)
Economic Systems
Functions or Purposes
Distribute goods or services
Allocate Power
Transmit Rules, Customs,
and Appropriate Behaviors
Functionalist claim that if one socializing institution is not
full filling its function another will take over that role to
retain equilibrium.
Functionalism & Education
Intellectual Purposes
• Acquisition of cognitive
• Acquisition of knowledge
• Acquisition of inquiry skills
Economic Purposes
• Prepare students for later
work roles
• Select and train the labor
force needed by society
Political Purposes
Educate future citizens
Promote patriotism
Promote assimilation of
Insure law and order
Social Purposes
• Promote a sense of social
and moral responsibility
• Serve as a site for the
solution or resolution of
social problems
Karl Marx
• Conflict Theory accepts
inequalities (social /
economic / political) as
• Social systems are dynamic
– NOT equilibrium
• There are tensions between
interest groups
• Four concepts: competition,
structural inequality,
revolution, and war
• Powerful groups who
control economic and
political systems
Conflict View- Social Reproduction
• Powerful elites manipulate public opinion to preserve
their entrenched position
• Elites have superior resources they can control the
means of communication, they can maintain social
• Rather than promoting democracy, social mobility and
equality, schools reproduce the ideology of the
dominant groups in society
• Schools are structured like factories and are organized
like bureaucracies
• Through tracking and testing, students are sorted into
class / gender / based work roles
• The idea of ‘meritocracy’
originates in sociological
fantasy: that is, in Michael
Young’s remarkable piece
of social science fiction,
The Rise of the
• Promotes social
efficiency, social mobility
and social justice
• Merit = IQ + Effort
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-KvkngqTYc ~1Min
Pierre Bourdieu
• Habitus
– Each individual occupies a
position in a social space or
“Habitus” characterized by
habits, beliefs,
mannerisms, linguistic
• Cultural Capital
– These habits, beliefs,
mannerisms, languages
have value know as
“cultural capital” in some
cultural settings
Privileged Families
Have more Economic Capital $$$$
Leads to..
Social Capital
Cultural Capital
Academic Success
• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xdfVAPv
Family incomes have declined for a third of American
children over the past few decades.
Countries with high income inequality have low social
Upward social mobility is limited in the United States
The children of high- and low-income families are born with
similar abilities but different opportunities
There is a widening gap between the investments that highand low-income families make in their children
The achievement gap between high- and low-income
students has increased
College graduation rates have increased sharply for wealthy
students but stagnated for low-income students
High-income families dominate enrollment at America’s
selective colleges
A college degree can be a ticket out of poverty
The sticker price of college has increased significantly in the
past decade, but the actual price for many lower- and
middle-income students has not
Few investments yield as high a return as a college degree

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