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American sociologists

The school is a social institution responsible for making the human being a socially functional entity, and inculcating societal norms and values in him/her or rather helping the individual internalize whatever values his family has already given him. The school then is a major agent of socialization, and since this is o f the rather primary stage it is essential in framing a person’s personality and mindset and so was an interesting choice for me regarding this topic. An individual spends a major part of his life in school.

Research by American sociologists Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis back in 1976 proved how the schooling system, in its entirety, is nothing more than a mirror view of the workplace. Children are taught punctuality, and are socialized into a culture of obedience and conformity to rules-being told what to do, where and how to do it without ever questioning why b their teachers-which they shall continue to do so later in their lives.

Children are made to accept a culture of conformity and obedience, so that they are fully trained to meet the demands of capitalism. They shall go on to face this not only in the workplace, but in every social, political or economic system they later encounter

Whilst the school may be seen as an institution fostering and encouraging originality, creativity and imagination, the Marxist school of thought sees it as being a tool of ideological control, yet another apparatus for maintaining ideological dominance or, as Marxist Antonio Gramsci puts [Barnard, 2004], it hegemony over the masses, a point which will be further elaborated upon below.

Marxist Inferences:

The teacher, the, is the bourgeoisie Marx spoke of, and the students are the exploited proletariat! In The German Ideology, Marx argues that the division of labor is a “fixation of social activity,” a “consolidation of what we ourselves produce into an objective power above us, growing out of control, thwarting our expectations, bringing to naught our calculations” [160].

There is a strict division of labor, as schools also have a hierarchical structure, with different levels of power. The most important relationship, however, remains that between teacher and student, where the former has absolute authority over the latter.

Attendance records, detention, uniform (where students are all one entity-the victimized proletariat) are strict disciplinary methods, whereas teachers themselves are not bound to follow the same rules. Since teachers themselves usually come from elite to middle-class backgrounds, they have already been trained to treat students as their inferiors-a complete culture of hegemonic control in which teachers have been pre-socialized.

The school, then is definitely to some extent an exploitative institution because it sets the curriculum to be studied-setting the limits to knowledge and belief, and suppressing individual opinion-one that is linked to the economic base and is yet another ideological state apparatus which produces, continuously, a fresh supply of workers, trained hard to meet the demands of the harsh capitalist workplaces, the entire system being a rigid one like schooling itself tends to be.

Schools suppress democracy, for instance by banning student unions, and all this certainly lends weight to the Marxist argument, making this a concerning issue. As Marx him self said:

‘The ideas of the ruling class are, in every epoch, the ruling ideas’.

Marx, Karl. (1932). The German Ideology. New York: W.W. Norton & Company

Barnard, Andy et al. (2004). Sociology.Uk: Cambridge University Press

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