Assess the Marxist view of the role of education in modern society (20 marks)
Marxists view society as based on conflict. They believe that the role of all institutions in society can be understood in terms of how they relate to the economic system and how they feed back into the capitalistic society.
They therefore see the education system as an institution which reproduces the class system and provides the economy with a suitable workforce. The labour force needs professional and executive workers, as well as skilled and unskilled manual workers. According to Marxists, the role of the education system is to provide workers for every part of the economy.
Support for this Marxist view comes from Althusser he believes that the education system performs two functions; the reproducing of class inequality in the way that children are judged based on things they no control over for example their names and parents occupation resulting in them being consciously/unconsciously treat differently,this could then have an impact on how they behave and achieve in later years at school, and the other being legitimising class inequality. Althusser also mentions how school transmits ruling class ideology which states that capitalism is just and reasonable.
Other sociologist like Bowls and Gintis highlight a strong correspondence between what is learnt in schools and what is required in workers for the Capitalist system. For example, they found that in school the pupils who succeed the most are obedient and unquestioning, rather than independent and inquisitive. Bowles and Gintis believe that these qualities are valued in workers as they will accept the authority of their employers, and not question what they are being told to do.
Bowles and Gintis believe that the content of the curriculum is not very important and that pupils learn most from the ‘hidden curriculum’, that is; the experience of being in school e.g. getting used to doing boring things for the reward of the...