13.2D: The Social Reproduction of Inequality
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- Explain, using conflict theory, how inequality is socially reproduced
- In democratic societies, education is meant to be a path to opportunity, and public education is meant to ensure society continues to strive for equality.
- Persistent evidence indicates that education’s democratic mission has failed; rather than overcoming inequality, the educational system appears to reinforce it.
- Inequality is continually socially reproduced because the whole education system serves the interests of the dominant classes.
- According to conflict theorists, the myth of individual success through education obscures an important social fact: the individual failures of many students are in fact explained by large-scale social forces.
- Conflict theorists maintain that schools are a means to convey to students what constitutes knowledge and appropriate behavior as determined by the state—those in power.
- According to conflict theorists, children from lower-class backgrounds face a much tougher time in school; they must learn the standard curriculum as well as the hidden curriculum of middle class values.
- Lower-Class Backgrounds: Upbringings that are lower on the socioeconomic hierarchy.
- social reproduction of inequality: The idea that inequality is continually socially reproduced because the whole education system is overlain with ideology provided by the dominant group.
Social Reproduction of Inequality
Class and Education