Marxism and education

Try and write down at least three things.
If you get stuck, share ideas with a
To understand Marxist views of
To evaluate those views.
To use sociological evidence and
research to support your judgements.
To write an essay length answer
To contribute to whole class
discussion in an orderly fashion
To think critically about
sociology explanations of
inequality in education
Marxists see capitalist society as being ruled
by the economy.
 The minority, the ruling class or bourgeoisie
rule the majority, namely the workers or
 The bourgeoisie have the wealth and the
power to rule.
 The proletariat are exploited because they
are not treated fairly. This is the basis of class
Education reproduces the
inequalities and social
relations of production of
Capitalist Society.
Education serves to
legitimate these
inequalities under the
guise of Meritocracy.
Althusser believed that education
socialises working class children into
accepting their subordinate status to the
middle class.
 Education conveys the ideology of the
ruling class.
 Education prepares individuals for the
world of work, in order to accept their
position in a capitalist society.
What do you think of
these ideas?
Have a minute of
discussion with your
study partners
Bowles and Gintis (1976), say the main function of
education in capitalist countries is to create
Correspondence theory suggests that educational
inequality mirrors the inequality of wider society.
If capitalism is to succeed it must have an
industrious and obedient workforce that is too
divided to challenge the authority of the rulers.
The education system succeeds in fulfilling this aim
by means of the hidden curriculum
What do you think of
these ideas?
Have a minute of
discussion with your
study partners
Schools kill creativity, insist on conformity,
and offer indoctrination into capitalistic
Children learn to accept authority in an
unthinking fashion and this leads them to
accept government dictats in the same
What do you think of
these ideas?
Have a minute of
discussion with your
study partners
Resistance is
Did an ethnography of twelve anti-school
boys ‘the lads’
 These boys rejected school and other
children within it, presenting themselves as
 Willis claims that working class children
choose to fail in school as a rejection of
 Their rejection of school is an act of
What do you think of
these ideas?
Have a minute of
discussion with your
study partners
Traditional Marxist
Neo- Marxism
Louis Althusser
Paul Willis
Schools pass on
messages that people
accept without
question. They are
socialised into
accepting capitalism
Children can see
through the ideology,
but it doesn’t matter.
The reality is low pay
work, poverty and
oppression regardless.
Evaluation is the process of judging the
value of a research project, an idea or a
concept, using further concepts, studies
and theories to support the judgement
that is made.
Strengths and weaknesses are identified
in an evaluation
It points out how ideology is transmitted
within schools via the hidden
 It recognises conflict of interest in
schools; not everyone shares values.
 It points out the inequalities of both
opportunity and outcome in the system
It assumes teachers are unaware of class
dynamics and are all middle class
Many working class children do succeed
in the education system
It overemphasises class and ignores
other structural inequalities: ethnicity and
Criteria for success
› Outline Marxism
› Outline what the theorists say
› Assess the strengths of Marxist thinking
› Assess the weakness of Marxist thinking.
› Refer to AO1 knowledge about the educational
system of the UK
› Use the concepts of sociology
› Refer to studies, writers or theory in your answer.
› Use evaluative language in your answer
Criteria for success:
• There will be a simple explanation of each theory
• Two broad similarities between the theories will be
• Two major differences between the two theories will
be identified.
• Images and colour will be used effectively to highlight
key points.
Popular theories
Critical theories
Functionalism and the New Right Marxism and liberation theory
To ensure that the children of the
To select people for the right jobs
wealthy and powerful get the
in society
best jobs
Education offers people morals
and values
Education trains people to accept
a view of the world that is
conformist and passive so that
poorer people can be exploited
People are trained in skills for
future life
People learn not to question
authority and are offered an
education which limits them to
specific workplace roles
People are given the curriculum
that they will need to do well in
The curriculum is tailored to the
needs of those in power and
reflects ideological beliefs
Education exists to provide a
route up through society for the
most able
Education serves to keep most
people in their place.
 Develop
your notes on this topic by
looking at the e-book on the NGfL-Cymru
 Add
notes from books and downloads on
Marxism to your folders.
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