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Evaluate the claim that in modern industrial societies state education systems act as a means of social control

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Education is seen as one of the social institutions for socialization in society. Social control and socialization are closely related to each other. Social control is a part of socialization. During the process of socialization the process of social control also is in operation. Through socialization social control becomes effective. In order to maintain the social order there are definite procedures in society. Societies depend heavily upon effective socialization to internalize social norms and values as the individual’s guides and motives to action. Through socialization societies aim to control the behavior of its members subconsciously. The various agencies of socialization like family, state, school, club etc are also the agencies of social control. They exercise regulatory influence over the behavior of the individual. Marxists would say that through education, values and norms of the ruling class are transmitted to new members of society whereas feminists would say that education socializes girls into the typical female roles such as carers and etc.

Karl Marx, saw society as fragmented into groups that compete for social and economic resources. He believed that social order is maintained by domination, with power in the hands of those with the greatest political, economic, and social resources. When consensus exists, it is attributable to people being united around common interests, often in opposition to other groups. This perspective emphasizes social control, not consensus and conformity. Groups and individuals advance their own interests, struggling over control of societal resources. Those with the most resources exercise power over others with inequality and power struggles resulting. There is great attention paid to class, race, and gender in this perspective because they are seen as the grounds of the most pertinent and enduring struggles in society. Therefore Marxists would suggest that the ruling class created education as a way to control the newer members of society from straying away from their norms and values and for them to conform to roles and respect authority, which included teachers and etc.

In addition, Louis Althusser would say that these institutions were used as the ideological status apparatus. This showed that education systems did act as a means of social control as Marxists would explain that education would transmit norms and values of the ruling class. In addition, education allowed for ruling class children to succeed, as they would better due to their parents being able to afford to send them for tuition, extra classes and etc. This left the working class and ruling class children where they were before and this didn’t allow them to have much social mobility therefore keeping social control according to Marxists. Feminists believe society is male dominated –in other words it is a patriarchy. Feminists also believe that society is based on conflict between the sexes. They believe that women have historically been disadvantaged in society and that men historically have had more power than women.

Feminists believe that education is an agent of secondary socialisation that helps to enforce patriarchy. Many feminists believe that women are being suppressed by a male-dominated society both in education and also in later life. They argue that the curriculum is more based around traditionally male-dominated subjects. Thus it sets up men more than women for further education or more prosperous work opportunities. Coupled with this is the stereotypical view of a woman’s part in society – of becoming housewives, marrying early and having children. Feminists argue that this contributes to the suppression put on women by the male-run society.

Sociologists Heaton and Lawson (1996) argue that the ‘hidden’ curriculum is a major source of gender socialisation within schools. They believe that schools would have text books with families where children are taught from an early age that males are dominant within the family; various subjects are aimed at a certain gender group, for example Food Technology would be aimed at females, leading on to the typical role of females doing housework and cooing; sports in schools are very much male dominated in the education system. The basic assumption shared by feminists is that the gender of divisions in society operates to the disadvantage of women. This shows that feminists would also see that education is a social control as it reinforces norms and values for the different genders, as feminists believe that society is patriarchal.

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