Using Material from Item a and Elsewhere, Assess the View That the Main Function of the Education System Is to Reproduce and Legitimise Social Inequalities

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State education began in 1870 and a significant feature of education in Britain is the difference in achievement between pupils from different social classes. Despite many improvements to the education system, social class differences continue. Social class background has a powerful influence on a child’s success in the education system. For example, children from middle class families on average perform better than working class children.
Functionalists see education as based on value consensus where as Marxists see it as based on class division and capitalist exploitation. Althusser saw schools as part of the ideological state apparatus, where people are persuaded to accept their exploited position in society. This maintains the rule of the bourgeoisie by controlling people’s ideas, values and beliefs. Althusser also argues that the bourgeoisie do not need to use the repressive state apparatus, this includes the police, courts and army. The bourgeoisie does not need to use the RSAs because they are used to maintain the rule of the bourgeoisie by force, therefore can manipulate the ways in which people think. Therefore the main function of the education system is to reproduce and legitimise social inequalities as in Althusser’s view education transmits class inequality from generation to generation and legitimates class inequalities by producing ideologies that disguise the truth. The education system develops a false consciousness in the working class, they are manipulated into thinking that capitalism is reasonable and fair in organising society.
Marxists Bowles and Gintis suggest that the economy determines what happens in the education system. They argue that capitalism requires a workforce with particular attitudes and personality-types to suit their roles as exploited workers. Therefore the education system’s main function is to reproduce an obedient…...

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