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Sociology of Education

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1 Sociology of Education

1. Why did you decide to go to university? 2. What sort of outcome do you expect from going to university? 3. Do you think that the odds for your getting into and succeeding in university are easier, harder, or about the same as for other students? Why? 4. When you complete your university studies, will you have more, less, or the same level of education as your parents? 5. What kind of payoff do you think you will get from your education relative to the benefits that your parents received for their education?

3 The Chief Concerns of The Sociology of Education
The sociology of education involves the study of: who succeeds in school and why (or the degree to which the educational system promotes equality or reproduces inequality); what is taught in school and why (or how the curriculum reflects the cultures of various groups in society); and how changes in education are related to changes in the economy. 2 2 2

4 The Functionalist Approach to Schooling
According to the functionalist perspective, schooling performs two main functions: it socializes children by teaching them the norms, attitudes, knowledge, and skills needed to perform in adult society; it allocates people to positions in the job market. The school’s functions are highlighted by contrasting its norms with those of the family: the school teaches children the norms of universalism, achievement, specificity, and independence. 3 3 3

5 Criticisms of Functionalism
Despite functionalist claims that schools allocate people to jobs on the basis of merit, much evidence suggests that factors, such as, social class, gender, and ethnic background continue to predict how well students do in school, and what jobs they are likely to get. For example, the parents of children in working-class families are generally not highly educated and are, therefore, less able than better-educated parents to help their children with homework. Similarly, although girls tend to get higher grades and drop out less often than boys, they are disadvantaged relative to boys in turning educational attainment into good jobs. 4 4 4

6 Educational Attainment
Average Annual Full Time Earnings for Men and Women, Age 40-49, by Educational Attainment, Canada, 1991 $ Source: Adapted from R. Allen, “The Economic Benefits of Postsecondary Education and Training in B.C.: An Outcomes Assessment.” Discussion Paper DP-34. (Vancouver: Centre for Research on Economic and Social Policy, 1996). Educational Attainment 5 5 5

7 Human Capital Theory Human capital theory claims that people are rewarded with good jobs to the degree that they possess human capital, i.e., knowledge and skill achieved through formal training. On the basis of this theory, the Canadian government invested heavily in building up the university and college system in the 1960s. However, subsequent research has demonstrated that group membership -- especially gender, class affiliation, and race -- account for more of the variation in income attainment than human capital factors. 6 6 6

8 Conflict Theory Conflict theorists see the inter-group conflicts of the larger society reflected in the school system. For example, Bowles and Gintis claim that because the rich possess disproportionate economic power, they control the educational system and impose their knowledge, culture, and ways of behaving on everyone. Specifically, school curricula teach most students to be obedient and to respect authority, thus preparing them to accept subordinate work positions. Furthermore, students are taught that the school system is fair and that success is based on hard work and achievement. Thus, the existing social order is legitimized at the same time as workers are trained to accept subordinate roles. 7 7 7

9 Dominance Through Schooling
8 8 8

10 Credentialism 9 9 9

11 Interpretive Approaches
10 10 10

12 Schooling in Canada I: Equality
11 11 11

13 Female/Male Ratio, University Degrees Granted, by Field of Study, Canada, 1994
Source: Adapted from the CANSIM cross classified table ; or on the Statistics Canada webpage at < September 21, 1996. 12 12 12

14 Schooling in Canada II: Knowledge & Work
13 13 13

1. The Financial Resources Argument 2. The Cultural Capital Argument 3. The Social Network/Socialization Argument.




19 1. The Financial Resources Argument.

20 2. The Cultural Capital Argument.

21 2. The Cultural Capital Argument

22 3. The Social Network/Socialization

23 3. The Social Network/Socialization
Argument (Continued).

24 The Status Attainment Model



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