SOCB26H3 Lecture Notes - Structural Functionalism, Conflict Theories, Meritocracy

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Published on 9 Oct 2012
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Structural functionalism
Two big ideas:
- schooling is the most efficient means by which the most talented individuals
assume the most important positions in society
o this is both a moral and rational argument
o the school system is a meritocracy: it facilitates equality of
opportunity (status based on achievement rather than ascription (the
attribution of something to a cause)
- schooling concerned with the transmission of cognitive skills upon which the
knowledge society depends
Conflict theories
- one big idea:
o schooling benefits the few, but not the many
o equality of opportunity is a myth
o schooling reproduces existing inequalities
- Bowles and Gintis
o Schools teach personality traits, not cognitive skills
o Working-class kids end up in menial jobs, middle-class kids in
managerial and professional jobs
o There is correspondence between personality traits imparted in
schools and young people’s destinations in the labour market
- Bourdieu
o Middle-class families have the advantage of cultural capital as well as
economic capital (they have a good balance of both which make them
very versatile upward and downward)
o Schools reward cultural capital in the classroom
How much middle-class families pass on their advantages to their children?
- survey (1994) findings
o 78% of parents with university degrees read to their children on a
regular basis
o 41% of parents without a university degree read to their children on a
regular basis