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Luca's Purple Aster

A-Level Sociology


Education with Theory and Methods is Paper 1 of the A-Level Sociology course (7192/1). It's a 2-hour written examination with 80 marks and is worth 33.3% of the qualification. 

The content in the Education section sees Mayfield students study the Role and Functions of the Education System, Differential Education Achievement of Social Groups, the Relationships and Processes within Schools & the Significance of Educational Policies. The Methods in Context section makes sure students are able to apply sociological research methods to the study of education. While, the content in the Theory and Methods section sees Mayfield Sixth Formers learning about several Methods of Research, Sources s of Data & Types of Theories.  

The Assessment Overview
Education: short answer and extended writing, 50 marks
Methods in Context: extended writing, 20 marks
Theory and Methods: extended writing, 10 marks

S1's Content

These are all Luca's notes for each topic and lesson in A-Level Sociology Paper 1's Education with Theory and Methods. These notes are from classes, private study periods or at home, and are written by a Sixth Former so some notes may contain errors.

S1A | The Roles and Function of the Education System
S101 | The Functionalism of Education
S102 | The New Right's Approach to Education
S103 | Neoliberalism and School Competition
S104 | The Marxist Views on the Education System

S1B | The Differential Educational Achievements of Social Groups
S104 | The Social Class Divide's Impact on Achievement
S105 | The Gender Difference: Why One Performs Better than the Other
S106 | The Ethnic Separation and Racism

S1C | The Relationships and Processes within Schools

S107 | Teacher-Pupil Relationships
S108 | Pupil Identities and Subcultures
S109 | The Hidden Curriculum 
S110 | The Organisation of Teaching and Learning

S1D | The Significance of Educational Policies
S111 | The Policies of Selection: the Tripartite System and Comprehensives
S112 | The Policies of Markteism's Impact on Education
S113 | The Polcies of Privatisation
S114 | Policies to Achieve Greater Equality of Opportunity or Outcome
S115 | The Impact of Globalisation on Educational Policies

S1E | Methods in Context

S116 | Sociological Research to the Study of Education

S1F | Theory and Method
S117 | Research Design: Quantitative and Qualitative Methods of Research
S118 | Different Sources of Data
S119 | The Distinction Between Different Types of Data
S120 | The Relationship Between Positivism, Interpretivism and Sociological Methods
S121 | Different Considerations Influencing Choice of Topic and Methods
S122 | Consensus, Conflict, Structural and Social Action Theories
S123 | The Concepts of Modernity and Post-Modernity
S124 | The Extent to Which Sociology can be Regarded as Scientific
S125 | The Relationship Between Theory and Methods
S126 | Debates about Subjectivity, Objectivity and Value Freedom
S127 | The Relationship Between Sociology and Social Policy

The Roles and Function of the Education System

A-Level Sociology, Paper 1, Topic A
S1A | Lessons S101-S103

S101 | The Functionalism of Education

The positive functions that education provides for the greater good of society

  • Functionalism 

    • Functionalism views society as a system of co-dependent sections (like family, the economy and family) which are united through a shared culture known as a value consensus​

  • The positive functions that education performs

    • Creating social solidarity​

    • Teaching us skills necessary for work (specialist skills)

    • Teaching us core values 

    • Meritocracy

    • Role allocation 

  • Creating social solidarity​

    • Émile Durkheim was a French sociologist ​

    • Durkheim argued that education creates social solidarity 

    • This is where an individual feels that they are part of a community and where all people work towards shared goals

    • School is one of the very few institutions which can perform this function in advanced, industrial societies 

    • This function is achieved through students learning the same curriculum, having a house system in the UK and pledging to the flag in the USA

    • The education system helps create social solidarity by transmitting society's culture over several generations 

      • An example of this is teaching children their country's history so they share a sense of shared heritage and commitment to society​

      • Durkheim referred to schools as 'society in miniature'

    • It's believed without social life and cooperation, every individual would pursue their own selfish desires and society wouldn't get very far and that's why social solidarity must be created at a young age

    • The Ouseley Report

      • Durkheim's views were supported by Herman Ouseley in 2001 in his report on the Bradford Riots of 2001​

      • Many students had been educated in faith schools, which means many white people were segregated by people of South Asian origin

      • Ouseley identified a 'virtual apartheid' and it was the ultimate failure of schools for not teaching these groups to live side-by-side in a multicultural society

      • This lack of social cohesion increased tensions forcing the Government to decrease the promotion of faith schools

  • Teaching us skills necessary for work

    • Émile Durkheim was a French sociologist ​

    • Durkheim argued that education teaches us skills necessary for work (specialist skills)

    • This is because schools provide a diverse range of qualifications to be taught and awarded which over time becomes more specialised

    • This function of the education system is essential as industrial economies require a complex division of labour with many of those jobs being highly skilled

      • A single product usually now involves the cooperation of many different specialists ​

      • Each person must have the necessary specialist knowledge and skills to perform their role and education ensures that people learn what's required of them for the betterment of society

  • Teaching us core values

    • Talcott Parsons was an American sociologist 

    • Parsons argued that schools are important for secondary socialisation acting as a bridge between home and society

    • The bridge is needed as one's family and society operate on different principles so a new way of living must be taught to children if they want to cope in the wider world

    • Within a family

      • Each person follows different standards

      • A person is judged by particularistic standards (rules that only apply to them)

      • A person also has an ascribed status (fixed at birth) ​​

        • An example of this is that an elder son and a younger daughter may be granted different rights and duties because of differences in age and sex (which are ascribed)​

    •   Within a school​ and society

      • Each person follows the same standards

      • A person is judged by the same universalistic standards 

        • An example is that in school the same rules apply to everyone and in society the same laws apply to everyone

        • Another example is that all students sit the same exam with the pass mark being the same for all​

      • Exam grades determine a person's place in University, exams other people took as they all follow the same standards; they wouldn't get in because they knew someone who worked there​

  • Meritocracy

    • Talcott Parsons was an American sociologist 

    • Parsons argued that education is meritocratic

      • Meritocracy refers to the idea that people in society's jobs and pay are allocated on the basis of people's individual talents, abilities, skills and qualifications 

    • Education provides an equal opportunity for all to achieve good qualifications and in turn, most likely obtain better jobs​

    • A combination of ability and effort determines who gets the best qualifications  and the best jobs

  • Role allocation​

    • Kingsley Davis and Wilbert E. Moore were American sociologists​

    • Davis and Moore argued that education is used for selection and role allocation

    • Education provides a way of allocating people to appropriate job roles through tiered qualifications (different grades at GCSEs and A-Levels, and different levels of education like Level 1, 2, 3...)

    • It's argued that inequality is necessary so the most important roles in society are filled by the most talented people

      • It'd be inefficient and dangerous to have less able people performing professional jobs like a surgeon or pilot

      • Not everyone is talented so society has to offer higher rewards for more professional jobs in order to encourage everyone to compete for them so society can find and select the most talented people for these positions

    • Education plays a key role in this process by providing a proving ground for ability

      • The most-able people can gain the highest qualifications to give them entry to the most important jobs  ​

  • Criticisms of the functions and sociologists

    • The criticism of Durkheim​

      • Sociologists have criticised Durkheim's ideas by exclaiming that the education system doesn't teach specialist skills adequately ​

      • The Wolf Review of vocational education in 2011 found that high-quality apprenticeships are uncommon and 1/3 of 16-19-year-olds take courses that that don't lead to higher education or good jobs

    • The criticism of Parsons

      • People have found there's a great deal of evidence that equal opportunities in education don't exist​

      • It's argued that education and achievements are greatly influenced by our social class, gender and ethnicity but less so by our ability

    • The criticism of Davis and Moore

      • In 1953, sociologist Tumin criticised the Davis-Moore hypothesis suggesting they had put forward a circular argument ​

        • How do we know jobs are important? They pay more​

        • Why do some jobs pay more? They are important

        • There's little explanation on why they're important and deserve a higher pay and instead creates a circular argument

S102 | The New Right's Approach to Education

Education in the eyes of the New Right: beliefs, the marketisation of education & the role of the state

  • The New Right

    • The New Right is based on the belief that a state can't meet its people's needs than the individual citizen managing their own needs in a free market; this is the reason this philosophy endorses the marketisation of education 

  • The New Right's approach to education

    • It reflects many of the ideas of the functionalist perspective (sees society as a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability)

  • The New Right believe education should:

    • Train the workforce ​

      • It should ensure the most-able students have their talents developed so they can be recruited into the best jobs​

      • It should also prepare others for lower-level employment

    • Create social solidarity​

      • It should socialise young people into a collective value ​

      • This is to build social cohesion and social solidarity  to ensure a stable and united society

  • The New Right's difference with the functionalism of education

    • As seen, the New Right share many of the ideas of the functionalism of education but they don't think it's achieving them​

    • They blame the failure of these ideas in the education system is due to schools being run by the state

  • Chubb and Moe: the marketisation of education

    • Chubb and Moe believe that state-run education creates a single type of school regardless of the wishes and needs of parents or local communities

    • Instead, they argue the need for the marketisation of education with a range of different types of independently managed schools and colleges

      • These institutions would run like private businesses, answerable to the local communities’ parents and students

    • They based their arguments on a comparison of the achievements of 60,000 pupils from low-income families in 1015 state and private high schools​

      • They found that low-income families consistently do 5% better in private education than in state education​

    • Why having a market system in education would be beneficial 

      • The introduction of a market system in state education would put control in the hands of the consumers (parents)

      • They argue that this would allow consumers to shape schools to meet their own needs and would improve quality and efficiency​

      • This would lead to a more intelligent and better society in their belief

  • The New Right's belief in the role of the state ​

    • The state would still be responsible for:​

      • Imposing a framework on schools within which they have to compete

        • For example, by publishing Ofsted inspection reports and league tables of schools’ exam results, the state gives parents information with which to make a more informed choice between schools​

      • Ensuring that schools transmit a shared culture​

        • This is possible by imposing a single national curriculum ​

        • It'd seek to guarantee that schools socialise students into a single cultural heritage to consolidate social solidarity

  • Criticisms of the New Right perspective on education

    • Against Chubb and Moe

      • Stephen Ball in 1994 and Sharon Gerwitz in 1995 argue that competition between schools with a market system in education benefits the middle class who can use their cultural and economic capital to gain access to more desirable schools​

    • Against the New Right's belief in the role of the state​

      • Critics argue the New Right contradict themselves ​

      • The New Right support parental choice as schools compete to offer the best education that's appealing to the consumer (parents) having more control over the school, however, the New Right believe the state should impose a national curriculum on all schools

      • Parents have less choice and power over learning and educational offerings by schools if all schools must follow the same curriculum 

S103 | Neoliberalism and School Competition

The concept of neoliberalism and its view on the education system

  • Neoliberalism 

    • Neoliberalism is an economic perspective that believes a state doesn't have a role in providing educational services to individuals ​

  • School competition

    • To neoliberalists, a state shouldn't manage their property nor regulate the free-market economy ​

    • Governments instead should promote competition, privatise state-run businesses and deregulate markets; this philosophy views education as its ability to enable a country to compete in a global market and this can only be achieved if schools run like businesses 

    • Schools run like businesses in a market of competing schools for the purpose of improving educational standards

  • Criticisms of neoliberals' views on education​

    • Similar to the criticism against Chubb and Moe of the New Right, neoliberal views of schools running like businesses in a market will primarily benefit the middle classes​

S104 | The Marxist Views on the Education System

The education system through the perspective of marxists and what they believed should be changed

  • Marxist views on education

    • The Marxists' view on education is that it's based on class division and capitalist exploitation ​

    • Karl Marx believed a capitalist society created three classes:

      • The bourgeoisie - those who own the means of production such as machinery and factory buildings with their source of income as their profit​

      • The landowners - those who own land and their income in rent

      • The proletariat - those who sell their labour for a wage as their income

    • The ​situation creates class conflict and Marx believed these individuals in the proletariat would join together to overthrow a capitalist system to a classless society but capitalism persists as the ruling class can control the state through the education system by perpetuating capitalist principles and depressing revolutionary ideas

  • Althusser: the ideological state apparatus (ISA)​

    • The ISA stands for the ideological state apparatus that uses religion, media and education to influence citizens' ideas, values and beliefs thus maintaining the ruling class power

    • French philosopher, Louis Althusser, believes education is an important ISA​

    • He believes education 

      • Reproduces class inequality over generations by failing each successive generation of working-class students ​

      • Justifies class inequality by producing ideologies that disguise its true cause. The function of ideology is to persuade workers to accept that inequality is inevitable and that they deserve their subordinate position in society

      • If they accept these ideas and are failed by the education system, they are less likely to challenge and threaten capitalism 

  • Bowles and Gintis: the reproduction of social class inequality ​

    • Is the education system meritocratic? 

      • Functionalists believe the education system is meritocratic ​

      • Bowles and Gintis believe that the idea of meritocracy in education justifies inequality by falsely claiming everyone has an equal opportunity and that unequal reward is a consequence of people's unequal ability; this is the myth of meritocracy

    • Bowles and Gintis argue that education reproduces an obedient workforce that will accept inequality as inevitable

    • From their own study of 237 New York High School students and the findings of other studies, they concluded that schools reward precisely the kind of personality traits that make for a submissive, compliant worker

      • For example, they found that students who showed independence and creativity tended to gain low grades, whilst those who showed characteristics linked to obedience and discipline (like punctuality) tended to gain high grades

      • From this, Bowles and Gintis concluded that education helps to produce the obedient workforce that capitalism needs

  • Willis: the lads' counter-culture

    • Marxists believe capitalism can't function without a workforce accepting their exploitation and that it is the education system's role to perpetuate class inequality​

      • Bowles and Gintis view education as a process of indoctrination of students into the myth of meritocracy 

      • However, Paul Willis' study pointed out that working-class students can resist attempts of indoctrination

      • Willis combines schools' role in capitalism with an interactionist approach which focuses on the meanings students place on their situation and how this may contribute to resisting indoctrination

    • The lads' counter-culture​

      • Willis studied the counter-school culture of 12 working-class students transitioning from school to work known as the 'lads'​

      • The lads represented a counter-culture opposed to schools and were scornful (expressed disrespect) to conformist boys they named 'earholes'

      • They took the mick out of 'earholes' and girls

      • The lads were bored of school, finding it meaningless and disregarded its value by smoking, drinking and disrupting classes; this was to reject the meritocracy ideology as a lie 

      • The similarities between the lads and manual workers

        • Willis saw similarities between the lads' anti-school counter-culture and the culture of manual workers ​

        • They both view manual work as superior to intellectual work

          • The lads strongly identify with manual work

          • This is why they see themselves as superior to 'earholes' and girls who are working towards non-manual jobs

      • Lads' resistance to school helps them fill jobs capitalism needs them to fill​

        • Their acts of rebellion guarantee them work unskilled jobs ensuring their failure to achieve worthwhile qualifications 

        • Willis finds irony in this as the lads' resistance to the ideology in school and their counter-culture ensures they're put into unskilled jobs for which capitalism thrives on

  • Bowles and Gintis: the correspondence principle and hidden curriculum ​

    • Correspondence principle

      • Bowles and Gintis argue that there are close parallels between schooling and work in a capitalist society

      • This is known as the correspondence principle – the relationships and structures found in education mirror or correspond to those of work​

    • Examples of the correspondence principle​

      • Hierarchies - both schools and workplaces have hierarchies with headteachers and bosses at the top making decisions and giving orders​

      • Lack of control - students' lack of control over education (like subjects they study and timetabling) is similar to workers' lack of control over production (as managers decide on what, how and when products are made)

      • Competition and divisions - students in schools compete and are divided by grades like workers in workforces compete for different pay and status 

    • How the correspondence principle​ operates through the hidden curriculum

      • The hidden curriculum refers to how lessons are learnt in school without being directly taught

      • Bowles and Gintis claim that the correspondence principle operates through the hidden curriculum​

      • Everyday students become accustomed to accepting a hierarchy, their lack of control and competition 

      • They claim schooling prepares working-class pupils for their role as the exploited workers of the future, reproducing the workforce capitalism needs and perpetuating class inequality from generation to generation

  • Criticism ​of Marxist views

    • Against Bowles and Gintis ​

      • Bowles and Gintis conducted their own research into how schools reproduce social class inequality 

      • This may have been the result of researcher bias (a tendency for researchers to find what they are looking to find by manipulation of data)​

    • Against Marxists' heavy focus on class​

      • Post-modernists Morrow and Torres argue that society is now more diverse​

      • They see non-class inequalities, such as ethnicity, gender, and sexuality, as equally important

      • They argue that sociologists must explain how education reproduces and legitimates all forms of inequality, not just class and how the different forms of inequality are related

The Differential Educational Achievements of Social Groups

A-Level Sociology, Paper 1, Topic 2
SG1/2 | Lessons SG1/2A-2C

SG1/1A | //


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SG1/1A | //


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The Relationships and Processes within Schools

A-Level Sociology, Paper 1, Topic 3
SG1/3 | Lessons SG1/3A-3D

SG1/3A | Teacher-Pupil Relationships

  • Note

The Significance of Educational Policies

A-Level Sociology, Paper 1, Topic 4
SG1/4 | Lessons SG1/4A-4E

SG1/4A | The Policies of Selection: the Tripartite System and Comprehensives

  • Note

Methods in Context

A-Level Sociology, Paper 1, Topic 5
SG1/5 | Lessons SG1/5A

SG1/5A | Sociological Research to the Study of Education

  • Note

Theory and Method

A-Level Sociology, Paper 1, Topic 6
SG1/6 | Lessons SG1/6A-6K

SG1/6A | Research Design: Quantatitive and Qualitative Methods of Research

  • Note

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Mayfield Grammar School, Gravesend

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