The Functions of Formal Education Systems

The Functions of Formal Education Systems

The Functions of Formal Education Systems Here is an introduction to the differing sociological approaches to the analysis of formal education systems. You will also wish to extend your knowledge with further reading and discussion! Click here to link to more documents on the Sociology of Education and to further links to all sections of the site. 02/25/20 1 The Functions of Formal Education Systems Distinction between Pre-Industrial and Industrial Societies Distinction Between Formal and Informal

Education Listing the Functions of Formal Education Systems Listing the Relevant Sociological perspectives Analysing the Functions of Formal Education Systems from Different Sociological Perspectives 02/25/20 2 Distinction between Pre-Industrial and Industrial Societies Pre-industrial societies were mainly agricultural and rural. Roles were mainly ascribed rather than achieved and upward social mobility was limited. These societies were less meritocratic than industrial societies Formal educational institutions were considered to be unnecessary for most

people in pre-industrial societies High level academic and technical skills were unnecessary for most occupations in pre-industrial societies and many adults would have been unable to read or write at all. In pre-industrial societies only a minority received much formal education and most received training relatively informally in the family and the workplace. Many Third World are primarily pre-industrial societies Industrial societies differ from pre-industrial societies in each of the above respects 02/25/20 3 Distinction between Pre-Industrial and Industrial Societies [2] Industrial societies are obviously mainly industrial and urban rather than agricultural and rural. Roles are more likely to be achieved rather than ascribed by comparison with preindustrial societies. There is comparatively greater upward social mobility but do not overestimate its extent. Nevertheless industrial societies are more meritocratic than pre-industrial societies Formal educational institutions are considered to be necessary in industrial societies because industrial and commercial success increasingly depends upon the existence of a skilled work force able to use new technological methods of production and

business management. Expansion of welfare states in industrial societies provides another source of demand for skilled workers in industrial societies. Consequently systems of formal education expand and individuals become increasingly dependent upon formal rather than informal education. Remember, however that even nowadays many workers in industrial societies perform relatively unskilled tasks although as a proportion of the total workforce their numbers are declining. 02/25/20 4 Distinction Between Informal and Formal Education Formal education is the education which takes place in formal educational institution such as schools, colleges and universities Within these formal educational institutions we may distinguish between the academic curriculum which refers to the subject matter of the various academic subjects being taught and the hidden curriculum which refers to the attitudes and values transmitted via the interactions between teachers and pupils and via school organisational processes such as setting, streaming and banding.

Analyses of the hidden curriculum vary considerably as among Functionalist, Marxist and Feminist sociologists .Whereas Functionalists see the hidden curriculum as involving the functional transmission of shared norms and values, Marxists and feminists see it as involving the transmission of ruling class ideology and /or patriarchal ideology Despite the expansion of formal education in industrial societies some education still takes place informally among family members, friends, work colleagues, and via the mass media and the church. 02/25/20 5 Functions of Formal Education Systems Promoting the development of human potential Transmission of knowledge and skills especially perhaps those necessary to meet the demands of industry and commerce A bridge between family and wider society Socialisation and social control Allocation of individuals to appropriate work roles Compensating for the adverse effects of the wider society

02/25/20 6 Relevant Sociological Perspectives Liberal Perspective Ivan Illich: De-schooling Society Functionalism New Right Marxism Social Democracy Interactionism Feminism Introducing Postmodernism Once you have navigated to these sections you can use the slide menu to return quickly to this slide [no.7] if you so wish. 02/25/20 7

Functions of Formal Education: Liberal Perspective [1] The Liberal Perspective on Education in the USA is associated especially with the American philosopher and educationalist John Dewey [1859-1952] Liberals accept that capitalism generates economic inequality but that this is inevitable, beneficial and consistent with individual freedom and equality of opportunity especially if free market capitalism is regulated to some extent but not excessively. Modern Liberals also are strong supporters of liberal democracy and believe that the abolition of capitalism would result in excessive state power which would destroy liberal democracy. Liberals believe that formal education systems should help to socialise the young to understand and accept their future adult roles in society; that they should operate according to meritocratic principles ; and that they should promote human self development. In particular it is vital that individuals are well informed over a range of public issues so that they can participate in the political life of their society and hold their elected officials to account. It is desirable also that individuals develop artistic, sporting and inter-personal skills which may be only indirectly [and possibly not at all] related to the needs of the economy but which do promote human self-development. 02/25/20

8 Functions of Formal Education: Liberal Perspective [2] Many educationalists would accept the educational aims of the liberal theorists . Also as we shall see these liberal ideas are similar in several respects to those of the Functionalist sociologists and New Right theorists . However the Green theorist Ivan Illich as well as Marxists, Social Democrats and Feminists would argue that the liberal analysis of capitalism and of the activities of capitalist education systems is misguided. In particular these critics argue that formal education systems in capitalist societies do not promote fully individual self-development and neither are they organised on meritocratic principles. Indeed Marxists especially would ague that aims of education as outlined in liberal ideology are incompatible because the needs of the capitalist system for workers who are obedient, submissive and prepared to accept alienating work are incompatible with the liberal aim of human self-development. 02/25/20

9 Functions of Formal Education: Ivan Illich: De-schooling Society 1971 As the title of Illich study suggests he is highly critical of current formal education systems and suggests that they might be replaced by skill centres to impart necessary skills and information exchanges to enable individuals to follow up on their special interests. It must be recognised that childhood is a social construction and that children in advanced industrial countries might develop more effectively as human beings if they are allowed to enter the adult world of work at an earlier age. Their education could then take place within the community as a whole much as it did in pre-industrial societies. School, says Illich are ineffective both in the transmission of necessary skills and in the promotion of attitudes, values and interests which promote human self-development. He argues that formal education systems both inhibit individual self-development and contribute to further industrialisation which is itself environmentally unsustainable in the long term. We are encouraged to believe that we can find happiness in increased consumption of goods and services: not true says Ivan Illich. Formal education systems may prepare us to fulfil narrowly specified economic roles in industrial societies as unskilled workers or accountants, lawyers or computer programmers but they do not provide us with the practical skills which will be increasingly necessary in the future as resource shortages intensify. People are taught to rely excessively on the opinions of so-called expert teachers and to believe that they themselves can contribute little to the solutions to problems facing human kind.

02/25/20 10 Functions of Formal Education: Ivan Illich: Deschooling Society 1971 [2] The Illich study provides food for thought but may be criticised on several grounds. Functionalist and New Right theorists would argue that industrial capitalism provides the best basis for higher living standards and even that the capitalist system is best suited to the solution of environmental problems. Conversely Marxists argue that Illich has little or nothing to say about the extent to which it is the capitalist system which shapes formal education systems in such a way that they serve the interests of the capitalist system rather than the interests of all members of society. Social Democrats argue for the expansion of Welfare States including formal education systems as a means of facilitating human selfdevelopment and increasing equality of opportunity. Therefore abolishing the school system would clearly be counter-productive. Despite all of the criticisms which may be made of formal education systems Is it not true that schools must be improved , not abolished? However if ever you have time Ivan Illich [now deceased] will always be

worth reading. 02/25/20 11 Functions of Formal Education: Functionalist Perspective [1] Key Theorists: E. Durkheim; T. Parsons; K. Davies and W.Moore Basic Functionalist Model of Society : societies are based upon consensus as to values and norms; they consist of various subsystems each of which contribute to the stability of society as a whole; capitalist societies are economically unequal but they are also basically democratic, meritocratic and economically efficient Durkheim : formal educational institutions are increasingly necessary to transmit the knowledge and skills necessary to the efficient functioning of industrial societies; they provide a bridge between the particularistic family and the universalistic wider society and thereby contribute to the secondary socialisation of the young 02/25/20

12 Functions of Formal Education: Functionalist Perspective[2]: Talcott Parsons The transmission of knowledge and skills appropriate for capitalist industrial societies via the academic curriculum. The socialisation of the young via the hidden curriculum in accordance with what Parsons considered to be the core values of USA society: individual ambition and equality of opportunity. The grading of students via fair meritocratic examination processes to ensure that individuals are fairly and accurately allocated to appropriate roles in society. Such functions are seen as contributing to the economic efficiency and social stability of society as a whole: the most talented people are allocated to the most demanding [and best paid] occupations; emphasis on individual ambition encourages hard work on which prosperity depends and because both the education system and society generally are organised meritocratically those in low status occupations are content that they at least had a fair chance to be more successful. Since those in low status occupations are relatively content they will not try to criticise and undermine the capitalist system which as stated is both economically efficient and meritocratic.

02/25/20 13 Functions of Formal Education: Functionalist perspective [3] Kingsley Davis and Wilbert Moore Davis and Moore are best known for their development of the socalled functionalist theory of social stratification according to which significant economic inequalities are both inevitable .because they arise from differences in mainly genetically determined differences in talent, and desirable because they increase incentives to work hard to save and invest. Davis and Moore further claim that such inequalities are justified because the meritocracy of the USA education system ensures that all have an equal opportunity to compete for the best paid occupations and this competition ensures that the most talented individuals are employed in the most demanding, best paid occupations. There is therefore considerable overlap between the views of Davis and Moore and those of Talcott Parsons. 02/25/20

14 Functions of Formal Education: Functionalist Perspective [4] Preliminary Evaluation It is impossible to provide a full evaluation of any perspective until other competing perspectives have been outlined. However, for the time being we may note that other sociologists are critical of the Functionalists optimistic descriptions of the capitalist system. They deny that differences in income and wealth simply reflect differences in talent. They deny also that the USA education system of the 1940s-1960s to which the Functionalists refer was organised meritocratically They claim that the Functionalists have provided a biased account of USA society in an attempt to justify inequalities which, in fact, cannot be justified They deny that a meaningful consensus exists in support of the capitalist system. 02/25/20

15 Functions of Formal Education: The New Right New Right Ideology contains elements of neo-conservatism and neoliberalism. New Right Theorists are strong supporters of the capitalist system and believe that it works best with limited government intervention Their arguments in support of the capitalist system are similar to those which are used by Functionalists. They believe that formal education systems provide support for capitalist systems in the ways suggested by Functionalists but that they do not do so effectively enough . They argue further that school leavers are insufficiently prepared for employment and that a variety of new courses should be introduced which would prepare pupils for employment .In the UK the introduction of the new vocationalism was influenced by New Right Ideology 02/25/20 .

16 Functions of Formal Education: The New Right [1] Thus New Right theorists argued that especially in the 1960s school pupils were likely to be exposed to subversive, pacifist and anti-capitalist teachers views and teaching methods which the New Right considered to be too progressive . That is ; their views in this respect were the exact opposite of the views of the Marxists Bowles and Gintis. Instead New Right theorists emphasise the importance of traditional methods of teaching, traditional aspects of the formal curriculum [e.g. great literature and the history of the British Empire], strict discipline and respect for traditional moral values and traditional sources of authority. This is the neo-conservative aspect of New Right ideology. New Right ideologists accept the arguments of so-called public choice theorists that government departments including government education departments, are dominated by their own bureaucrats who devise policies designed to increase the size of their own departments and hence their own influence. Further according to the New Right these bureaucrats are likely to be influenced by left-leaning academics and public sector trade unions resulting in bad policy making.

02/25/20 17 Functions of Formal Education: The New Right [1] Instead the New Right argue that the private provision of education will be more efficient than state-provided education. It is in this sense that the New Right adopt a neo-liberal approach to education policy. They therefore support so-called education voucher systems designed to facilitate the growth of private education although these voucher systems have not actually been introduced in practice in the UK. They strongly support the expansion of private education and grammar schools as a means of increasing parental choice New Right theorists argued that the quality of comprehensive education could be improved via more reliance on the market mechanism within the comprehensive sector. 02/25/20 18

Functions of Formal Education: The New Right [2] Conservative governments[1979-1997] were influenced to some extent by New Right Ideology. They introduced the Assisted Places Scheme which provided grants for some pupils to attend private schools. They introduced policies associated with the New Vocationalism designed to prepare pupils more effectively for the world of work. They hoped that increased parental involvement on school governing bodies would counter what they perceived as the left-wing bias of teachers. They introduced policies designed to increase parental choice of schools. It was claimed that this would lead to the relative expansion of effective schools and to the relative contraction and possible closure of ineffective schools thereby improving overall educational standards and giving working class pupils a better chance of upward social mobility. That is : greater parental choice would lead to increased schools effectiveness and increased meritocracy 02/25/20 19 Functions of Formal Education: The New Right[3]: Evaluation

It may be argued that education bureaucrats are keen to improve the quality of the state education system such that the arguments of public choice theorists which have been accepted by New Right Theorists are in reality misguided. It is possible that the Assisted Places scheme did increase the chances of upward social mobility of those children who participated in it although it has been suggested that few truly disadvantaged pupils participated in the scheme Critics of New Right thinking argue that many teachers do not have radical left wing views and that those who do would have no wish to indoctrinate their pupils. Furthermore many teachers use a combination of traditional and progressive methods. The education policies emphasising increased parental choice introduced by Conservative governments have actually benefited middle parents and their children disproportionately since it is these middle class parents who are much more likely to be able to use their cultural, economic and social capital to ensure that their children secure entry to the more effective state schools thereby indirectly reducing the educational opportunities of more disadvantaged pupils. [You should familiarise yourselves with the details of Ball , Bowe and Gerwitz Markets , Choice and Equity in Education [1995] which is relevant to several aspects of the Sociology of Education.] 02/25/20 20

Functions of Formal Education: The New Right[4]: Evaluation [2] There have been several criticisms of the New Vocationalism. It has been claimed that a significant divide has been created between academic and vocational courses and that schools in any case are not suited or resourced for the teaching of business- related courses. It is also claimed in relation to training schemes that they aimed to shift the blame for youth unemployment from government policy onto the education system; that training schemes were a means of reducing the official unemployment figures; that little real training was given; that the schemes reinforced traditional gender roles; that the training was at the expense of a more valuable general education and that the purpose of the schemes was often to encourage passivity and acceptance of low wages among young people. Nevertheless it has been argued that New Vocationalism initiatives did benefit some pupils although it is difficult to quantify the exact numbers who did benefit from the scheme. 02/25/20

21 Functions of Formal Education: The New Right[5]: Evaluation [3] Conservative economic and social policies between 1979 and 1990 did result in substantial increases in economic inequality and poverty which may have indirectly reduced opportunities for upward social mobility of working class children thereby helping to reproduce the UK capitalist class structure. [Income inequality did decline slightly between 1990 and 1997 under the Conservatives and between 1997 and 2008 under successive Labour governments ] there has been little or no change in income inequality 02/25/20 22 Functions of Formal Education : Marxist Perspective [1]

Capitalist societies as class divided, unequal, exploitative, unjust, alienating. Revolution will probably be necessary to change them. The major social classes are the property-owning Bourgeoisie and the property-less Proletariat. The distinction between the Economic Base and the Superstructure is very significant in Marxist theories. The Economic Base includes the level of technology and the patterns of ownership and non-ownership of the means of production which in capitalist societies result in the division between the Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat. The formal education system is one element of the superstructure: others are the family, the mass media, the Church and the political institutions. The nature and characteristics of the superstructure are heavily influenced by the economic base and the superstructure helps to ensure the continued existence of the economic base which means the continuation of capitalist class inequality 02/25/20 23

Functions of Formal Education: Marxist Perspective [2] Louis Althusser If Capitalism operates so much in the interests of the minority capitalist class[ the Bourgeoisie] and against the interests of the majority working [the Proletariat ], how can the Bourgeoisie maintain its dominant economic and political position? In principle it can retain its power via its control of the police and armed forces but under conditions of advanced capitalism ideological control is more important. The capitalist class retains its powers by means of its control over ideological state apparatuses [ISAs] and repressive state apparatuses [RSAs] This means Althusser has a broad definition of the State. Ideological state apparatuses include the family , the mass media, the Church and formal education system and these institutions persuade the Proletariat to accept the ruling class ideology that the capitalist system operates in their interests whereas in reality, according to Marxists, the capitalist system exploits the Proletariat in the interests of the Bourgeoisie. For discussion in class: What ideas might form part of a ruling class ideology? If these ISAs fail to contain dissent the Bourgeoisie will use RSAs [the police, the military, the courts, the prisons ] to crush dissent, if necessary . What is the significance of the phrase the iron fist in the velvet glove.

02/25/20 24 Functions of Formal education: Marxist Perspective[3] Bowles and Gintis Key study: Schooling in Capitalist America [1976] Analysis of formal education within Marxist framework: capitalist class structure; Bourgeoisie and Proletariat; Base and Superstructure; Ruling Class Ideology. Conclusions similar to Althussers but Bowles and Gintis provide a more detailed analysis of the US formal education system. US formal education system helps to provide new workers with the attitudes and skills that the capitalist system requires Capitalism does require some skilled , creative workers but it also requires many workers who are submissive toward authority, prepared to tolerate unskilled, poorly paid uninteresting work and who will perceive their disadvantaged employment situation as the result of their personal inadequacies rather than as the result of an unfair education system. There is therefore a correspondence between the organisation of the formal education system and the organisation of employment under capitalism 02/25/20

25 Functions of Formal education: Marxist Perspective[4] Bowles and Gintis [Continued] Possible correspondences between formal education systems and capitalist economy: 1. 2. 3. 4. 02/25/20 Pupils must undertake boring repetitive tasks with little intrinsic interest corresponding to unskilled work in later life. Pupils may study hard in order to achieve good grades not because of intrinsic interest corresponding to the necessity to work for wages rather than the intrinsic interest of work.

There are only limited opportunities for collaborative study and students compete against each other much as they may later be forced to do in the capitalist work environment. Students are schooled to accept teacher authority and school rules much as they will later be obliged to accept the authority of their employers. 26 Functions of Formal Education: Marxist Perspective[5] Evaluation Rejection of critical Marxist analysis of capitalist system for example by Functionalist, New Right and Social Democratic theorists. Functionalist and New Right claims that formal education systems in capitalist societies are relatively meritocratic and can in practice or in principle meet the needs of capitalist economies. Capitalist system is changing so that education system must provide an increasing proportion of well educated workers able to cope with increasing work flexibility. Claims that Bowles and Gintis have underestimated the opportunities for critical thinking provided in both the formal curriculum and the hidden curriculum. Related possibility that formal education systems operate with some relative autonomy in relation to capitalist economic system. Social Democratic claims that even if education systems are not meritocratic they can

be made more meritocratic via educational reform. Paul Willis arguments that many working class lads actively choose to reject school and to take up low skill manual work. The Hidden Curriculum is relatively insignificant in this respect. Insufficient attention given to the effects of formal education systems on women although Marxist feminists do discuss this. 02/25/20 27 Functions of Formal Education: Social Democratic Perspective [1] Social Democracy: a flexible leftist ideology which encompasses the differing strands of Left Wing and Centre-Left, [probably including the socalled Third Way] existing in the British Labour Party. There are disputes as to whether under Tony Blairs leadership the socalled New Labour party has modernised or discarded its social democratic values. These disputes continue under the leadership of Gordon Brown The UK formal education system fulfils the functions which have already been listed but it does so neither fairly nor efficiently which differentiates the Social Democratic perspective from Functionalism and from the New Right . However meaningful reform of the capitalist system and of the formal

education system is possible which differentiates the Social Democratic perspective from Marxism. The Social Democratic perspective incorporates elements of Feminism of the liberal feminist variety. 02/25/20 28 Functions of Formal Education: Social Democratic Perspective [2] Social Democrats support the expansion of education and the raising of average educational standards levels as a means of maintaining economic competitiveness in the increasingly globalised world economy. Higher educational standards will help to safeguard employment and reduce the risk of poverty. Educational expansion may also help gradually to reduce economic inequality. Social Democrats argue that the UK education system is insufficiently meritocratic which means that it fulfils its role allocation function unfairly and inefficiently resulting in social injustice and a wastage of talent. Many Social Democrats would argue for the abolition of private education, the abolition of Grammar Schools, policies to promote increasing comprehensivisation and the expansion of compensatory education schemes such as Sure Start,

Education Action Zones and Excellence in Cities. However there are also disputes among Social Democrats over some aspects of recent Labour education policy such as Specialised Schools and Academies and some would argue that without more fundamental social reform education policy alone cannot compensate for society. In particular more radical Social Democrats are critical of Labours failure in government to reduce significantly economic inequality between 1997 and 2009. 02/25/20 29 Functions of Formal Education: Interactionism[1] Interactionism is seen as a form of microsociology and interactionist theorists are therefore much more concerned with small group interactions than with the structures of societies as a whole. However in their studies of schools and classrooms interactionists have attempted to describe the processes by which working class students are disproportionately likely to be inaccurately and negatively labelled by teachers as lacking in academic ability.

As a result working class pupils are disproportionately likely to be consigned to lower streams, bands or sets , to develop negative self-images which adversely affect their own educational progress. Within schools anti-school pupil subcultures may develop especially among pupils in the lower streams/bands/sets which may have further adverse effects on pupil progress. Meanwhile mainly middle class pupils are positively labelled and allocated to higher streams/bands/sets with beneficial effects on their educational progress Both negative and positive labelling and streaming/setting/bandings generate self-fulfilling prophecies that appear to confirm teachers initial judgements of pupils abilities. Similar interactionist studies have been conducted relating to gender and ethnicity 02/25/20 30 Functions of Formal Education: Interactionism[2] The Interactionist analysis helps to undermine the Functionalist claims that formal education systems grade students according to meritocratic principles and that the role

allocation function of formal education systems is performed . efficiently However , interactionist studies have been criticised for several reasons. It is pointed out that they are usually small scale and rely excessively on observational methods. Some studies may imply that students accept the negative labels applied to them rather too passively. Some educationalists believe that children can be taught more effectively in ability groupings. Marxists may agree with many of the interactionist conclusions but criticise the interactionist approach for its failure to analyse relationships between labelling and the wider social structure 02/25/20 31 Functions of Formal Education : Feminism[1]

The following comments refer initially to Feminism in general. Variations within Feminism are also very important and are discussed briefly on the following slide Feminists believe that formal education systems have traditionally discriminated against female students in the interests of patriarchy or capitalism or both and may well continue to do so. The Hidden Curriculum has affected female students adversely: they were traditionally steered towards housewife mother roles rather than towards interesting careers. They were indoctrinated with personality traits which undermined their autonomy and restricted career opportunities. They were often steered toward traditional female occupations such office or shop work and even when they did opt for professional careers these were often in areas linked to the house-wife mother role such as nursing or infant school teaching. They were discouraged from choosing male dominated subjects such as Maths, Science and Engineering which had good career prospects The net effect was that the formal education system denied equality of opportunity to women which was clearly unfair and also undermined the role allocation function of formal education systems. 02/25/20

32 Functions of Formal education: Feminism[2] However recent changes in formal education systems such as the National Curriculum, more female-friendly teaching resources and more enlightened careers advice have improved female educational opportunities. Females have for many years achieved better examination results than males at 16+ level and they have now overtaken males at advanced Level and are also more likely than males to enrol on undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Female employment prospects have as a result improved but they are still restricted to some extent by subject choice and they are also discriminated against in various ways in the labour market even when they are well qualified. Within Feminism Liberal feminists might suggest that these developments suggest that strategies of gradual reform are working but Marxist and Radical feminists still demand the ending of capitalism and patriarchy while difference feminists point to the ongoing educational disadvantages of working class and some but certainly not all ethnic minority female students. In particular Marxist feminists emphasise that despite the recent improvements in female educational achievements working class females are still disadvantaged within the education system due to their class position. In particular radical feminists argue that schools do little or nothing to challenge patriarchal definitions of femininity and masculinity and that girls regularly face various forms of sexual harassment in schools.

A fuller discussion of the differing feminist approaches to the analysis of formal education systems is clearly necessary and you should consult your textbooks for further information . 02/25/20 33 Functions of Formal education: Introducing Postmodernism [1] Postmodern theories present a very significant challenge to all of the sociological perspectives so far outlined in this presentation. Postmodernists are critical of theories associated with the Enlightenment project based upon the modernist assumptions that societies may be analysed rationally via essentially scientific methods which can lead to social reforms which will improve the human condition. According to Postmodernists all sociological perspectives are essentially metanarratives which are descriptions of social reality with no necessary scientific validity but which simply reflect the opinions of well organised groups in society be they Liberals, Conservative Functionalists or New Right theorists , radical Marxists, Feminists of all kinds or Social Democrats. Postmodernists adopt a sceptical outlook not only toward modernist Sociology but toward all forms of knowledge. Postmodernists have some similarity with interactionist sociologists in their

belief that the powers of conventional socialisation processes have been much reduced such that individuals now have much more power to construct their own identities. 02/25/20 34 Functions of Formal Education Systems: Introducing Postmodernism [2] Postmodernists argue that the weakening of orthodox socialisation processes is indicated by the existence of increasing numbers of individuals who have taken up non-traditional gender roles, by the growth of family diversity and by the reduced influence of social class and ethnicity on individual behaviour. Some postmodernists [most notably J.Pakulski and M.Waters] have argued that although within capitalist societies large economic inequalities among individuals remain, actual social classes are gradually disappearing. If individuals are now more easily able to escape the limitations of traditional socialisation processes and adopt a more sceptical approach to all forms of knowledge as postmodernists suggest this might imply that these individuals are able also to adopt a more critical approach to their own education which might offer some possibilities for further self-development.

02/25/20 35 Functions of Formal Education Systems: Introducing Postmodernism However sociological critics of postmodernism argue that postmodernists have underestimated significantly the extent to which modernist sociology may be used to analyse effectively the functions of social institutions including formal education systems. For them structured class, gender and ethnic inequalities as well as inequalities based around age, sexual orientation and disability remain endemic in capitalist societies and formal education systems may well result in the perpetuation of these inequalities. Sociological perspectives are not simply metanarratives but provide a sound theoretical and organisational basis for critiques of existing social institutions. Change is more likely if the insights of these perspectives are utilised: we cannot rely solely upon the growth of individual scepticism emphasised by postmodernists useful as this certainly may be. Meanwhile of course Functionalists and New Right theorists are likely to oppose postmodern scepticism as inherently dangerous. They would not like to see Thatcherism described aswell just another metanarrative

really. 02/25/20 36 Functions of Formal Education Systems: Conclusion I am sorry that I have not provided fuller information on Postmodernism and Formal Education Systems but hope that you will be able to extend your knowledge and understanding of this part of the topic through further reading and discussion. This concludes my presentation on Functions of Formal Education Systems. I hope you have found it useful. 02/25/20 37

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