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Sociological Approaches

to Education
Karl Marx
 Developed by Karl
Marx in the 19th
 Marx and Engels
wrote the famous
Manifesto” in 1846
 Marx developed the
political system
known as
 When considering
Marxist theory it is
useful to remember
the 3 Cs;
 Class
 Conflict
 Capitalism
 These provide a
“baseline” to Marxist
Class -the basis of Marxist theory
 Marx was concerned by the
inequalities between social
 A very small proportion of
wealthy people owned huge
amounts of land and factories
 Marx called these people the
BOURGEOISIE and the land or
factories they owned the
 Most of the people worked for
the Bourgeoisie as waged
The basis of Marxist theory
 These waged labourers were
named the PROLETARIAT and
were exploited, claimed Marx,
by the bourgeoisie as they
earned only enough money to
 All the Proletariat owned was
their labour and thus had no
control over their working lives
and no share in the profits
 Factory production lines meant
they became “alienated” from
their craft
Class, conflict and capitalism
 The differences between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat
demonstrate a wide class division.
 According to Marx, the interests of the bourgeoisie or ruling class
were protected and promoted.
 The ensuing social inequalities caused conflict in society.
 Capitalism also causes conflict of interest between the classes.
 The need for the bourgeoisie to make profits is in conflict with the
need of the proletariat to earn enough money to have decent living
 Profits certainly came first during the Industrial Revolution.
 The bourgeoisie became extremely wealthy while the proletariat
worked long hours for little pay and lived in squalor.
How does Education fit in with
 Why did the proletariat put up with these harsh and
unfair conditions?
 Marx believed the proletariat existed in a state of FALSE
CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS – they accepted their life and
situation as inevitable
 Capitalist Ideology, gave legal protection to the
bougeoisie and taught the proletariat that powerful
members of society deserved respect
 This is described as Hegemony – the dominant culture
based on a set of fixed beliefs
 How was this ideology transmitted? Through institutions
such as Religion, Government, Family and
Is Marxism still relevant?
 Marx was describing a society
150 years ago but modern
Marxists believe his ideas to be
broadly true
 Social classes are not as
sharply divided now but harsh
inequalities remain
 Modern Marxists believe that
the education system is one of
the main agents of control,
depriving working class
children of opportunities to
improve their situation