One way to select and prepare young people for their future work roles is by selecting and allocating pupils of education a role in society, as is mentioned in item A: “it also selects and allocates them to their future work roles” which means social inequality is legitimised because of the hierarchy of society – someone has to be on top and someone has to be bottom, as is streaming encouraged in the same manner. This idea is said to be stemmed from having a meritocratic society where everyone has an equality of opportunity presented to them in education and then later on, the workplace.
This is how education serves its purpose to select young people for their future work roles. Another way that young people are prepared and selected for their future work roles is by education giving them the “specialised knowledge and skills they will need when they join the workforce”, as mentioned in item A. This is done by providing a trained and qualified workforce in education by the introduction of vocational courses like modern apprenticeships which combine training and part-time attendance at college, meaning that they learn on a job as well as learning in an education environment.
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New Right are the sociologists which focused a lot on marketization of education which focused on encouraging competition between schools so that education would improve, providing a better work force for society and in turn, better preparing young people for their future work roles. However, one of the key functions of education is social solidarity which means individual members of society must feel like they are part of a single community of people; Durkheim argues that without it social life and cooperation would not be possible as everyone would want to achieve their own selfish desires.
He argues that this is taught when we learn about History and Citizenship, which give us the idea of a shared community; also it does this by passing on society’s culture and continues the value consensus, which is an agreement among society members on what values are important. School acts as a ‘society in miniature’ as it prepares its pupils for life in a wider society, which requires social solidarity, as we have to cooperate with people who aren’t family or friends, just like in the
workplace. We have to act accordingly to a set of impersonal rules that apply to all. In item A, it is mentioned that “the family […] cannot equip individuals with everything they need to become fully functioning members of a large-scale society” and as family is only the start of social solidarity, the feeling of belonging in a family group, education is needed to push that in a wider scale (as a typical nuclear family will not be bigger than 6 or so people).
This is one key function of education, and it exists to encourage social solidarity as well as other factors. Marxists would argue that education has different roles in society; Althusser said that there are two ways in which the bourgeoisie keep their power, one of which is the ideological state apparatus. ISAs are the way that the bourgeoisie control people’s ideas, values and beliefs, and include religion, mass media and the education system.
He argues that the education system is an important ISA because it reproduces class inequality by passing it on generation to generation, therefore failing to overthrow the bourgeoisie consistently. Another reason why it’s important is that it legitimises class inequality by producing ideologies that cover the true effect by making workers accept that inequality is inevitable and that they earned their place in society, therefore if they accept these ideas, they are less likely to challenge capitalism and how it’s run.
This is one way that Marxists argue that young pupils get allocated roles for their future work roles, and education is there for them to accept their role and not argue against it. Another Marxist view on education is the myth of meritocracy which is the legitimation of class inequality, which is what a capitalist society is based on so there is always a risk that those at the bottom will feel their inequality is undeserved and unfair and therefore will rebel against it.
Bowles and Gintis argue that education is the reason that this does not happen, as it legitimising class inequality by producing ideologies that justify why this inequality is fair and inevitable. Bowles and Gintis describe education ‘as a giant myth-making machine’ like the myth of meritocracy, which means that it is untrue that everyone has an equal opportunity to achieve, that rewards are based on effort and so on. A reason for achieving high income is argued to be determined more from your family and class background rather than ability or educational achievement.
This serves the higher classes as it makes it appear that they gained their roles in the workforce by an equal opportunity but in reality, that is not the case, they use this to trick working class pupils to accept inequality. This means that the education system exists not only to allocate and train young people for their future work roles but also to accept the roles they are given and for the bourgeoisie to keep their power.
In conclusion, the education system exists to provide all kinds of functions to society, as well as allocation roles for young people that they will continue to have in the workforce; they are also trained for that role so they have the skills necessary to do the job. Also, according to Marxists, education also introduces certain values and beliefs into young peoples’ minds so that they accept the inequality that happens in a capitalist society as an everyday inevitability.
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