Schooling in Capitalist America: Educational Reform and the Contradictions of Economic Life

Schooling In Capitalist America: Educational Reform And The Contradictions Of Economic Life

Schooling in Capitalist America: Educational Reform and the Contradictions of Economic Life

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Schooling in Capitalist America: Educational Reform and the Contradictions of Economic Life is a 1976 book by Marxist economists Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis. Widely considered a groundbreaking work in sociology of education, it argues the ‘correspondence principle’ explains how the internal organisation of schools corresponds to the internal organisation of the capitalist workforce in its structures, norms, and values. For example, the hierarchy system in schools reflects the structure of the labour market, with the head teacher as the managing director, pupils fall lower down in the hierarchy. Wearing uniforms, and discipline is promoted as it would be in the workplace. Education provides knowledge of how to interact in the workplace and gives direct preparation for entry into the labour market.

They also believe work casts a ‘long shadow’ in education – education is used by the bourgeoisie to control the workforce. From their point of view schools reproduce existing inequalities and they reject the notion that there are equal opportunities for all. In this way they argue that education justifies and explains social inequality.

The book is now considered the key text for the Marxist theory of sociology of education.

Criticisms

Bowles and Gintis have been criticised-
  • Brown and Lauder (1991) argue that Bowles and Gintis have simplified the correspondence between education and the labour market. They go on further to state that there are changes in the......
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