Write a synoptic essay on "modern education and its effect on social inequality in society". In your synoptic essay, discuss how hidden curriculum, credentials and cultural capital contribute to the reproduction of social inequality in the society.
The increasing development of education has always been very closely associated to the mass of the people in the society. Many reformers value education because they feel it provides many opportunities for individuals and helps them to develop their own capabilities as well as their abilities. And they also believe from many ages education has always been a source of equalization in societies all over the world. It has been clearly stated and argued that education universally has helped in many ways of reducing the disparities of wealth and power and has provided the young able people with different skills and talents to find a valuable position in their society. Hence it can be argued that education has played a vital role in successfully achieving the goal of equalization in the society. Many sociological studies that have been conducted by researchers have critically stated that education helps to express and reaffirm inequalities that exist and also the act to change them. The term inequality can be described as the existence of social created inequalities by the society itself and it can be said that these inequalities are not biological in nature (Lee et al, 2005). Although it is a seen fact that all the human beings are not born with equality in their physical or mental proficiency but yet if a society wants to it can provide equality and justified opportunities to all its members of the society so that they can achieve their desired goals and aims in life. Many other sociologists are not very concerned about the inequalities that are inborn in people who are related to their age, sex, mind quality or their bodily strength bur are very much concerned with the existing inequality conditions faced by them in society. They also state that this type of inequality can be fulfilled to some extent only through the efforts put by the society as a whole and by also providing equal opportunities to all its members.
Therefore it can be argued that education is directly related to the equalities of opportunity in association to the achievement of one’s social standing and status in the society. It also helps in the recognition and the importance of education systems in it by achieving merits and goals through the education fields. Although some may say that education alone does guarantee a very high level of status to the people in the society, yet it can be said that education still plays a vital role in equalizing the opportunities to the people in many ways. It makes possible for all those people who desire to be well educated and also the ability to make benefits of that facility in order to achieve their desired goals. Modern education helps in developing a basic content of education that usually promotes the development of an outlook which is scientific as well as objective in its nature. It also helps in creating a social environment which includes mutual tolerance based on various factors like language, caste, class and religion etc which provides equal opportunities of social mobility to all the people in the society and also for giving them a good and secured education. Also it can be further discussed that the expansion of education in the secondary and senior secondary levels help to stop the class differentiation that is experienced in the lower depressed classes of society. Here they usually find a pattern of unequal access to the more prestigious schools. But however the inequality in class grew more severe only when the students would move higher in terms of the education ladder of success. For instance a girl or a boy who belong to the upper class or the higher middle class has more chances of entering a school which is well reputed as compared to a child from the working class or the lower middle class.
Although many of the sociologists have very much debated related to the aims and functions of the institutions of education, many of them state that the accessibility to educational opportunities have a great effect on most of the life situations of every individual and also in their attainment of their goals. Hence it can be seen that many specific education policies like the choices of schools, differentiation of the curriculum, school assignments and school finance can shape up the structure and range of educational opportunities for the students who can easily afford it (Gamoran & Adam, 2001). Therefore because of these issues the forefront has moved the educational policies over the past years and this resulted in the formation of the policies and the practices of the students from all the different types of social backgrounds which first belong to the different social class, race and genders. Further they also explain how schools and mass education came into existence in modern societies that further played a role in helping schools to promote mobility in society and also the well-being of the individuals economy and also to reproduce social inequalities and secure a valued resource foe them who belong to the privileged social backgrounds. There is an alternative conflict proposition that the educational institutions also help in promoting economic growth, achievements and social mobility in the modern societies. The existing relationship between education and the attainment of status is like the achievement of the individual and has often been given as evidence that a country has society which is open and always flowing that provides opportunities to individuals for social advancement through acquiring technical skills and knowledge. The sociologists also state that educational attainment is related to every individual’s family background and their socioeconomic status. They also consider educational institutions as a promotion of inequalities and not as a promotion of social equality. Hence the conflict theories also view the aim of education as maintaining social inequality and to preserve the people’s powers who tend to dominate the society. These theorists examine the functions of education as an educational system that helps in perpetuating the status by lowering the classes into being good workers. Therefore the theorists and functionalists agree that educational system takes into account the matter and also does not agree on how it enables this sorting. According to the theorists schools mainly train the working class so as to accept their position as a low class member of the society, and also because it is the role of education and the hidden curriculum.
It is also seen that the all the systems like the family, the press, the legal system, the political system and the education system were all well rooted and emerged from the nature of the class of society which in turn also reflected the base of economics of that particular society. The education system was a part of the superstructure of any given society and it helped in serving and reproducing the bases of the economic society. But it could be said that teaching and education was not just a plot used by the ruling class to make sure that all the privileges were kept secured in it was also the domination over the remaining population. This showed that all the main institutions of the society like education reflected the world as it has been created by human activity and the ideas that came from these highlighted the conditions and circumstances in which they originally came from. Therefore education also served many functions in the society; they are for instance helps to reinforce the social solidarity by making the individuals less likely to break the rules and bring a sense of belonging in the society. It also helps in maintaining social roles and also maintains division of labour by helping the schools to sort out the students into various skill groups and encourage them to take up employment in the field that suit their abilities. Many sociologists say that the emergence of mass education and the main role of educational institutions in modern societies help in the building of the nation and social control and it replaced or acted as a supplement for many religious institutions and families that played a vital role in the traditional societies.
To sum up it can be said that education plays a very important role in the maintenance of the stratification system and also in justifying the unequal distribution of wealth and also the social systems reflect stratification and sometimes can be a main cause of it. Education also creates the conditions for reproducing inequality where it helps to justify in the people’s mind a system of inequality and also helps them to reconcile their own positions within their societies. There are many studies carried out in a number of countries which do not support the different studies carried out by different sociologists, these studies have demonstrated that social and family backgrounds are the major influences over school performances. Many studies have assured that education and occupation achievement is surrounded mainly by family backgrounds and this helps in perpetuating the existing inequalities.
Gamoran, Adam (2001). "American Schooling and Educational Inequality: A Forecast for the 21st Century". Sociology of Education 74: 135–153.
Lee, Chungmei; Gary Orfield (2005). "Why Segregation Matters: Poverty and Educational Inequality". The Civil Rights Project. Harvard University: 1–47.