Marx and Durkheim and their Theories of Capitalism and Industrialism

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How useful are classical sociological accounts for understanding the rise of compulsory education in nineteenth and twentieth century Britain? Discuss with particular reference to Durkheimian and Marxist ideas. In this paper, I will be exploring the conflicting sociological ideologies of Marx and Durkheim in relation as to how useful they are at understanding the rise of compulsory education in Britain. Prior to the rise of compulsory education, schooling had a very small influence upon the masses. In general, only the wealthy could afford to send their children; mainly boys to school. This was primarily to study book knowledge and writing in the hope to become priests. This paper will focus on two main sociologists: Marx and Durkheim…show more content…
The Act established a system of 'school boards' to build and control schools in areas where they were needed. Children were taught a standardised curriculum of reading, writing and arithmetic. A Durkheimian would consider the Education Act to be a standardised way of passing down the same information to all of the children in the country. Durkheim believed that ‘for each society, education is the means by which it secures, in the children, the essential conditions of its own existence'. (UNESCO, 2001). Some would say this statement means that education is considered a key mechanism of passing on and preserving society’s culture. The new generation acquires and develops the central values of their society. In 1891 primary education became free and compulsory for all children between the ages 5 and 13. Although some may see this as a great step towards equality, many found this an inconvenience as their children could no longer work for them; this in some cases meant families lost out on money and business. A Marxist would explain this as the Bourgeoisie transmitting the ideology to the Proletariat that capitalism is just and reasonable. Marx (1848) considers this ‘exploitation of the many by the few’. This can be seen in the schooling environment as it teaches you to compete with your fellow pupils by trying to achieve higher than them for a grade or position, similar to that society. They would also see it as training
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