Education Topic 1 – Perspectives on the Role of Education – Knowledge Check- List

This is normally the first topic taught as part of the sociology of education module within A-level sociology,

Main Sub Topics

  • The Functionalist Perspective
  • The Marxist Perspective
  • The Neoliberal and New Right Perspective
  • The Post-Modernist Perspective
  • The Impact of Globalisation on Education
  • The relationship between education, the economy and work

Key concepts – You need to be able to define the following key concepts, explain how they are related to class and educational achievement, and asses their relative importance in explaining ethnic differences in educational achievement

  • Organic analogy
  • Value consensus
  • Role allocation
  • Particularistic
  • Universalistic
  • Specialist skills
  • Social solidarity
  • Meritocracy
  • National identity


  • Ideological state apparatus
  • Repressive state apparatus
  • Ideological tool
  • Dominant ideology
  • Correspondence theory
  • The hidden/informal curriculum
  • Marketisation
  • Parentocracy
  • Voucher System


 Selected Short Answer Questions

  • Outline the role of education according to Marxists.
  • Identify and briefly explain how education transmits the dominant ideology according to Marxists.
  • Outline how education benefits males according to feminists.
  • Outline the main functions of education according to functionalists.
  • Identify and briefly explain two ways in which the New Right are similar to functionalists
  • Outline two ways in which the education system has changed in response to globalisation


Possible Essay Questions
·         Assess the Marxist Perspective on the Role of Education in Society (20)

·         Assess the point of view that education creates inequality in society. (20)





Methods in Context Mark Scheme

My pared down mark scheme for the methods in context question in the previous post, which is adapted from the AQA’s own mark scheme, just put into easier language:

Applying material from Item B and your knowledge of research methods, evaluate the strengths and limitations of using covert participant observation to investigate pupils with behavioural difficulties (20)

Marks Level Descriptors


If work your guts off you could get here!


Knowledge of the strengths and limitations of covert participant observation will be accurate and conceptually detailed.

Application will be very focussed on the specific topic. Students will consider at least two of the following in relation to the specific issue (pupils with behavioural difficulties)

1.    Who you might be researching (e.g. pupils, peer groups, parents, teachers, support staff).

2.    Where you might be doing the research (e.g. classrooms, staffrooms, pupils’ homes).

3.    The sensitivity of researching pupils with behavioural difficulties (e.g. vulnerability, stigmatisation, parental consent, school reputation).

Evaluation of the usefulness of covert participant observation will be explicit and relevant. Analysis will show clear explanation and may draw appropriate conclusions.

Students will typically apply 4/5 of the following strengths and limitations of covert Participant Observation to the above issue:

1.    Practical issues in the research process: Access (getting in, staying in, getting out), data recording, time/ cost

2.    Ethical issues – e.g. sensitivity, informed consent

3.    Issues of validity: qualitative data/ verstehen/insight, flexibility

4.    Interpretation and analysis problems

5.    Small sample size/ unrepresentativeness


Marks Level Descriptors

You should aim to be here!


1.    Knowledge of the strengths and limitations of covert participant observation will be accurate, broad and deep, but incomplete.

2.    Application of knowledge to the topic (students with behavioural difficulties) will be more generalised or more restricted way, for example:


•      applying the method to the study of education in general, not to the specifics of studying pupils with behavioural difficulties, or


•      specific but undeveloped application to pupils with behavioural difficulties, or


•      a focus on the research characteristics of pupils with behavioural difficulties, or groups/contexts etc. involved in it.


3.    Evaluation and analysis are likely to be explicit but limited



It’s reasonable but not desirable to be here

1.    Knowledge of the strengths and/or limitations of covert participant observation will be accurate but with limited breadth and depth


2.    Application of the method will be limited to education in general, rather than the specific topic


3.    Evaluation and Analysis will be limited, with answers tending towards the descriptive.



No one should be here!

1.    Knowledge of covert participant observation will be limited and undeveloped – e.g. two to three insubstantial points about some features of covert participant observation.


2.    Application to the topic will be very limited and at a tangent to the demands of the question, e.g. perhaps drifting into an unfocused comparison of different methods.


3.    Minimal/no evaluation.



You defo shouldn’t be here!

Answers in this band will show very limited knowledge, eg one to two very insubstantial points about methods in general. Very little/no understanding of the question and of the presented material.

Significant errors, omissions, and/or incoherence in application of material.

Some material ineffectually recycled from the Item, or some knowledge applied solely to the substantive issue of pupils with behavioural difficulties, with very little or no reference to covert participant observation.





Methods in Context Essay Template

A suggested template for the Methods in Context Question on one of the AQA’s 7191 (1)education and methods in context sample exam papers – the template should work for most Method in Context questions, but it won’t work for all of them (it’ll fit less well for secondary data MIC questions)

Question: 06 Read Item B below and answer the question that follows

Item B

Investigating pupils with behavioural difficulties

Some pupils experience behavioural difficulties and problems interacting with others. This can create a major obstacle to learning, for both themselves and their classmates. In some cases, they are taught in specialist schools or in pupil referral units separate from mainstream education. Often, their behavioural difficulties result from problems outside school and many pupils come from materially deprived and chaotic home backgrounds.

Some sociologists may study pupils with behavioural difficulties using covert participant observation. This method enables the researcher to witness directly the pupils’ behaviour and its context. It may also allow the researcher to build a relationship of trust with pupils and parents. However, the researcher may find it difficult to fit in and he or she may need to adopt a specialised role such as teacher or support worker.

Evaluate the strengths and limitations of using covert participant observation to investigate pupils with behavioural difficulties (20)

Suggested Essay Plan

Cover Four things – Sampling/ Representativeness, Access, Validity, Ethics – In relation to the specific topic you are will be researching….

Discuss getting a sample/ Representativeness How might you gain a representative sample of the group you are studying? Are there any reasons why it might be difficult to get a representative sample?

Will the research method in the question make achieving a representative sample easier or more difficult?

What could you do to ensure representativeness?




Discuss gaining access to respondents Once you’ve decided on your sample, why might gaining access to respondents be a problem? (think of who you will be researching, and where you will be researching)




Will the choice of method make gaining access easier or more difficult?





What would you have to do to make sure you can gain access to this particular group?





Discuss validity/ empathy/ trust/ Insight Think of who you will be researching – are there any specific reasons why they may not wish to disclose information, or be unable to be disclose information?




Will the research method in the question make gaining trust easier or more difficult?




What could you do to make sure you get valid data from the people you will be researching?




Discuss Ethics Think of the specific topic you are researching in relation to who you will be researching – are there any specific ethical problems with researching these people?



Given these ethical problems, is the research method appropriate?



How can you make sure research is ethical?



Conclusion Based on all of the above is this a practical, theoretically sound and ethical method for this topic


NB – For the Topic you could discuss any of the following:

Who you might be researching

  • Pupils
  • Teachers
  • Parents
  • Support Staff

Where you might be researching pupils with behavioural difficulties

  • Classrooms
  • Staffrooms
  • Parents’ homes

 Specific characteristics of the subjects under investigation

  • Vulnerability
  • Stigmatisation
  • Parental consent

For the Method – You should consider all of TPEN: See here for the factors you should consider

Also relevant:

Participant Observation

Using Participant Observation to Research Education


Family Diversity – Sub Topics, Key Concepts and Short Answer Questions

An overview of topic 3: the family household and diversity topic within AS Sociology (my own version of how I break up this massive topic!)

Since the 1960s, post-modern society has been characterised by an increasing amount of family diversity, and this topic looks at how families and households have become more diverse, why they have become more diverse, and perspectives on increasing family diversity.

For this part of the course you need to be able to explain the reasons for the increase in the family and household types listed above and be able to analyse the social significance of these changes from different sociological perspectives. You also need to be able to examine and assess the extent to which families, households and relationships vary according to social class, ethnicity and sexuality.

Sub Topics

3.1 – The underlying causes of the long term increase In Reconstituted families, Single parent families, Multi-generational households, Single person households and ‘Kidult’ households.

3.2 Perspectives on the social significance of the increase of all of the above.

3.3 – The extent to which family life varies by ethnicity, social class and sexuality.

3.4 Evaluating the extent to which the nuclear family is in decline.

Key concepts you should be able to apply

  • Reconstituted Families
  • Individualisation
  • The cereal-packet family
  • Blended Family
  • Beanpole Family
  • Multi-generational Household
  • Forced Marriage
  • Polygamy
  • The Rappaport’s five types of diversity
  • there are many other concepts you can apply from the perspectives topic

Possible exam style short answer questions

  • Using one example explain one challenge reconstituted families might face which traditional nuclear families might not (4)
  • Outline three reasons for the increase single parent households (6)
  • Using one example explain one stereotype that is often associated with single parent households (4)
  • Outline three reasons why single parent households are twice as likely to be in poverty compared to nuclear family households (6)
  • Outline three reasons for the increase in single person households (6)
  • Outline three reasons for increase in multi-generational households (6)
  • Using one example explain one way in which family life may vary by ethnicity (4)
  • Outline and briefly explain two ways in which family life might vary by social class background (10)
  • Using one example explain why some Sociologists claim that the decline of the nuclear family has been exaggerated (4)

Evaluate Sociological Perspectives on Prison as a Form of Punishment (Essay Plan)

1. Functionalists would point to the positive functions prison might perform in society –Prison could act as a deterrent – thus reinforcing social regulation; and it should also work to maintain equilibrium and balance in our society – making up for the failings of other institutions such as the family and the education system – restoring order through incapacitating those who break the law.

Ultimately however, one might criticize the effectiveness of prison – given that there is a 60% reoffending rate it isn’t really effective in restoring equilibrium in the first place – what prison does most of the time is resocialise people into criminal norms, in the extreme people become institutionalized and unable to reintegrate into society once released.

2. Marxists argue that by relying on prison, we ignore the failings of the system that lead to the conditions of inequality and poverty which lead to crime. Furthermore, the imprisonment of selected members of the lower classes neutralises opposition to the system; the imprisonment of many members of the underclass also sweeps out of sight the ‘worst jetsam of Capitalist society’ such that we cannot see it; and we may also add a fourth benefit, that all of the police, court and media focus on working class street crime means that our attention is diverted away from the immorality and greed of the elite classes.

Supporting evidence for the Marxist view comes from the fact that there are higher rates of imprisonment in more unequal countries.

Left realists criticise Marxists for absolving criminals from blame – people in jail mostly deserve to be there and their victims are most likely to be working class themselves.
3. Michel Foucault sees the growth of prison as a means of punishment as reflecting the move from sovereign power to disciplinary power – in traditional societies power was exercised on people’s physical bodies – punishment was harsh – it was a spectacle – today power is exercised through surveillance – the state no longer beats criminals – it just subjects them to increased surveillance – the theory is that people change their behavior because they know they are being monitored constantly. Prison seams more humane than physical punishment but in reality it is much more invasive as a means of social control.
One criticism of Foucault is that he fails to recognize that many prisoners do not change their behavior even though they are being watched!

4. Since the 1980s there has been a significant increase in the use of imprisonment in the United Kingdom – numbers have roughly doubled since 1990 with the total prison population now standing at about 84000 and we have one of the highest rates of imprisonment in the western world.

This increase has gone hand in hand with the implementation of Right Realist policies that emphasize rational choice theory as the cause of crime and zero tolerance as the solution to crime. The state claims that tougher penalties are one of the major causes of declining crime rates.

5. However David Garland points out that the crime rate has fallen in many countries over the last two decades, even in those that do not imprison as many people as the UK.

David Garland’s view the increasing use of imprisonment in the United States is that we now live in a era of mass incarceration – the United States locks up a massive proportion of the unemployed (Garland estimates as many as one third of all unemployed people are actually in jail in the USA) – and many of these become locked in a cycle of ‘transcarceration’ – where they shift between different agencies of state control and never fully reintegrate into society once having been in jail.

Garland actually argues that the reason the US and the UK lock up so many people is because of neo-liberalism – neo-liberal policies have made these societies more unequal and more individualistic – life has become harsher – and thus it is easier for the state to justify harsher penalties.

6. Critics of the ‘overuse of prison’ argue that we should employ alternatives – by using curfews, community service and treatment orders – because these have a lower reoffending rate – mainly because they do not remove an offender from society.

It is also worth noting that the characteristics of the prison population are very different to the characteristics of the population as a whole. People who are over-represented include ethnic minority groups, men, the underclass and the young. It is also worth noting that many female prisoners are likely to have suffered physical and emotional abuse and many claim they are in jail because of pressure to do criminal acts coming from their male partners.

7. To conclude, given the massive reoffending rate – and thus failure of prison to rehabilitate offenders – critical perspectives such as Garland’s remind us not to fall into the simplistic analysis of Functionalism and Right Realism who see prison as an effective means of social control.

The critical approaches of Marxism, Foucault and Garland are probably the most useful here as these remind us that it is the rise of neo-liberal hegemony since the 1970s and right realism since the 1990s that have lead to an increasing crime rate, and then to the increases in prison populations experienced in neo-liberal countries such as the UK and the USA.

Related Posts

The Spirit Level – how inequality effects the crime rate

Critical Responses to Postmodernism

Anthony Giddens attacks post-modernity firstly because he believes that we have not yet left modernity – and thus the sociology of modernity still provides the correct tools for analysing contemporary society, and secondly because he believes that there is still a social structure with both constrains and enables human action.

Structuration Theory

Giddens theory is that there is a ‘duality of structure’ – not only do structures constrain and determine certain forms of behaviour, but they also enable behaviour. Furthermore, the structural circumstances within which human action take place are reproduced (and changed) but this process.

For Giddens, structure is a moving thing – a moving body of rules and resources which agents use for action. For example, we are to an extent constrained by the use of language, but we can still modify it over time.

Risk and Reflexivity

Giddens distinguishes between two types of risk – external risks and manufactured risk – it is the difference between worrying about what nature can do to us, and worrying about what we have done to nature as a consequence of our own actions. Manufactured risks are central to late-modern society – and they infuse every aspect of our lives – both at the level of society, and at the level of intimate relations

Giddens – Reflexivity in Late Modernity

According to Giddens there are some very real (rather than just discursively mediated) institutional changes going on the world – the increasing pace of globalisation (especially the rise of global media and the spread of huge volumes of information), and the threat of nuclear proliferation, environmental decline and the challenges of migration all pose very real challenges which effect our lives.

The simple fact of the matter is that in light of these new problems, no one is certain about what to do about them, there are competing experts who have different opinions – however, we don’t just accept that anything goes – at an institutional level scientists and politicians do their best to meet the above challenges, even if this is in a climate of uncertainty. Meanwhile at the same time, exposure to new cultures via IT means that all of our traditions are now open to question.

As a result of all of these changes, the self becomes a reflexive project – we have to continually remake it in the light of continually produced new knowledge – everything becomes a choice, and the self has to be ‘worked on’. People start to put the self-first because this is a psychological requirement under conditions of social uncertainty.

The nature of self-identity changes – constructing a ‘narrative of the self’ becomes something we are forced to pay attention to – and the ‘obsessive’ process of self-reflection, self-construction and self-expression become the norm.

Two general social forms emerge as a result of this – firstly, the rise of therapy to help us get through the uncertainty of late-modern life and secondly the rise of the body as being central to identity – the later because nothing else is as ‘grounded’ as the body – hence why we obsess with our looks and clothes today.

One key part of what isn’t in Jones’s summary of Giddens also argues that the process of constructing a self-identity – which requires that we continually respond to changing social conditions – takes so much effort, that most of us ask fewer moral and existential questions, although some of us do – as is evidenced in the emergence of new social movements.

Globalisation and Education

Globalisation refers to the increasing interconnectedness between societies across the globe.

Globalisation and Education

There are many dimensions to globalisation:

Economic globalisation is the globalisation of trade, production and consumption. Most of what we consume in the UK is produced and manufactured abroad, for example, often through Transnational Corporations, or companies which operate in more than one country, such as Shell. As a result of globalisation we have seen a decline in manufacturing jobs in recent years, because these have moved abroad (to countries such as China) and most jobs in the UK are now in the service and leisure sectors.

Cultural Globalisation refers to the increasingly rapid spread of ideas and values around the globe. This is mainly brought about as a result of the growth of ICT – communications technology which makes it possible to communicate with people in other countries instantaneously. Cultural globalisation includes everything from the spread of music and fashion and consumer products and culture to the spread of political and religious ideas.

– Increasing migration is also part of globalisation – with more people moving around the globe for various reasons. Sometimes this is voluntary, with people moving abroad for work or education, other times it is involuntary – as is the case with refugees from conflicts or climate disasters. As a result of increasing immigration, the UK is now a much more mulitcultural society than in the 1950s.

What are the consequences of globalisation for Education in the UK?

1. Increased competition for jobs abroad meant the New Labour government increased spending on education in order to try and give children skills to make them more competitive in a global labour market. New Labour wanted 50% of children to enter Higher Education, although this goal was never achieved.

2. Part of economic globalisation is the establishment of global ICT companies such as Google and Apple. These powerful institutions are now involved in writing curriculums, and online learning materials for various governments around the world. Thus education is increasingly shaped by Transnational Corporations, who make a profit out of providing these services to government. If you have an exam with the edexcell exam board for example, that would have been written by Pearsons (along with your text book), a global corporation.

3. Increasing migration has meant education is now more multicultural – all schools now teach about the ‘six world religions’ in RE, and we have many faith schools in the UK serving Muslim and Jewish students. In more recent years schools have had to respond to increasing numbers of Polish children entering primary and secondary schools.

4. Increasing cultural globalisation challenges the relevance of a ‘National Curriculum’ – what is the place of the Nation State and the idea of a ‘national curriculum’ if we live in an increasingly global culture. It also challenges what type of history and literature we should be teaching.

5. Finally, the growth of global ICT companies and global media more generally challenges the authority of traditional schooling and possibly teachers. What role does a traditional school model have when you can get all your information for free on YouTube, the Student Room and so on….

Revision notes on globalisation…

If you like this sort of thing and want some more context on globalisation, then you might like these revision notes on globalisation, specifically designed for A-level sociology. 

Globalisation coverNine pages of summary notes covering the following aspects of globalisation:

– Basic definitions and an overview of cultural, economic and political globalisation
– Three theories of globalisation – hyper-globalism, pessimism and transformationalism.
– Arguments for and against the view that globalisation is resulting in the decline of the nation state.
– A-Z glossary covering key concepts and key thinkers.

Five mind-maps covering the following:

– Cultural, economic, and political globalisation: a summary
– The hyper-globalist view of globalisation
– The pessimist view of globalisation
– The transformationalist/ postmodernist view of globalisation.
– The relationship between globalisation and education.

These revision resources have been designed to cover the globalisation part of the global development module for A-level sociology (AQA) but they should be useful for all students given that you need to know about globalistion for education, the family and crime, so these should serve as good context.

They might also be useful to students studying other A-level or first year degree subjects such as politics, history, economics or business, where globalisation is on the syllabus.

Modernity, Post-Modernity and Late Modernity

Some of the Key Features of Modernity and Post-Late Modernity and Modern, Post-Modern and Late Modern Thought. 

Historical Period

Time Period

Key Features of Society


1650 to 1950 (ish)

  • Clear social structure (class/ gender)

  • The nuclear family

  • Jobs for life

  • Nation States and Politics

  • Trust in Science

  • A belief in ‘progress’

Post and Late Modernity (the Same)

1980 (ish) to the present day

  • Globalisation

  • Uncertainty

  • Consumerism

  • More Individual Freedom

  • More Diversity

  • The media and Hyper-reality



The Individual




Structured, institutions important stable, ordered,

Individual shaped by society

Objective knowledge is possible, it can lead to progress



Institutions less powerful, media and consmer culture all important

Individual free to construct their own identity

Objective knowledge is not possible, it just leads to oppression


Late Modernism

Global institutions and abstract systems both constrain and empower individuals

The Individual has no choice but to construct their identity

Knowledge is still useful to help steer late-modernity, but it is fraught with uncertainties


Post-Modernity and Postmodernism

‘Post-modernity’ refers to the view that the institutions and ways of living characteristic of modernity have been replaced by new institutional features to such a profound extent that it is no longer plausible to look at the 21st century as a continuation of modernity.

Postmodernism is a term that refers to new ways of thinking about thought – to new ways of understanding ideas, beliefs and knowledge, rather than to new ways of living and organising social affairs.

From Modernity to Post-modernity?

There are many social problems which Marx, Weber and Durkheim did not address, but need addressing today – such as the environmental crisis, and the risks surrounding new scientific and technological advances.

Social Life in the Twenty-First Century

What have been the dramatic changes which have led some to talk of contemporary life as a time of post-modernity?

Globalisation is one of the most fundamental changes which according to Jones has five key characteristics

  • The rise of global capitalism
  • The declining power of the nation state
  • Population growth and urbanisation
  • The globalisation of markets and marketing
  • The rise of the network (information) society.

Identity in post-modernity

Postmodern analysis of social life tend to focus on issues of identity. In the past, work was one of the most important aspects of an individual’s identity – people tended to see themselves as what they did for a living – and two key features of modernity in terms of identity were class membership and trades union membership.

For may post-modernists, one of the central features of post-modernity is they way work and production have given way to consumption as the lynch pin of social cohesion and as the source of individual identity.

This is linked to the fact that jobs have become less stable, the idea of a job for life has disappeared, and thus work no longer provides an ‘identity’ we can just slip into.

As a result, we need to be more creative in the way we construct ourselves, and we do this through the consumption of consumer goods, to the extent that consumption has become the central feature of our existence and the main means of expressing who we are.

This has two major consequences – Firstly, it produces a new form of stratification – based on people’s ability to consume – those able to consume have the choice of a huge range of lifestyles, but those unable become disenfranchised – Bauman calls these flawed consumers, and they end up with outsider status. Secondly, post-modern life brings new uncertainties and insecurities – the individual has to ‘keep on consuming’ in order to ‘go on’ in post-modern society – to keep up with new products – to keep discarding the old and purchasing the new.

From Modernism to Post-Modernism?

Postmodern thinking applies to all sorts of human activity – to production, art and literature – and the focus is on pluralism, and on competing accounts of the nature of virtue, style, and truth (relatively in other words!). It is also on the transience and impermanence of definitions.

Postmodernism thus represents a reaction to the Enlightenment-sponsored modern search for THE truth, ultimate meaning and nature of reality.

In Postmodernism, because of the transient nature of truth, fashion and trend are just as important.

In postmodernism, the cultural dominance of the mass media are also emphasised – because the media constitutes most of what we know, and because there are so many images and sources of knowledge which we are exposed to, our sense of reality is impermanent – what we know is only here temporarily, until it is replaced with the next transient story.

According to postmodernism the social construction of knowledge works in the same way as the fashion industry promoting a new line of clothing – there is no objective or inherent beauty which makes one item of clothing better than any other – it is merely a matter of what the trend setters judge to be beautiful – which in turn is influenced by how much money/ power is expended through advertising – the same is true of knowledge – one set of ideas is not more correct than any other set – they just seem more accurate because more power is being excercised to promote one set rather than the other.

Modernism versus Postmodernism

For Modernist thinkers we can only be free if we live as we should, for post modernist thinkers we can only be free when nobody else tells us how to live.

Modernist thinkers believe that their analysis of existence – their metanarrative – is the correct one – thus they tend to be truth merchants – there are both religious versions of this, and secular versions – e.g. Marxism.

The postmodern critique of the above is that what ‘truth merchant’s do in the name of truth has too often resulted in oppression or death of those who do not agree with them.

A better solution than looking for the truth according to postmodernists is to accept that there is no ultimate truth and allowing other people the freedom to be different, to be tolerated even thought they are ‘other’.

A final reason why we can never get to the ‘truth’ is because postmodernists believe we cannot step outside the culture which made us – humans can every know via languages and discourse, and these can never be ‘true or false’ – think of the idea of a ‘true language’ – it doesn’t make sense!

This was a brief summary of one chapter of Pip Jones’s ‘Introducing Social Theory’

Related Posts 

Critical Responses to Post-Modernity (A summary of the next chapter of Pip Jone’s Book)

Social Policy and Sociology Summary

Social Policy may be defined as actions the government carries out, or actions political parties propose to do,  in order to exert an influence over a specific area of social life, such as education, the family, or society more generally – such as policies concerning taxation and wealth distribution.

This posts consists of a summary of Sociological Perspectives on the relationship between Sociology and Social Policy – covering Positivism, Marxist, Feminist and New Right Perspectives.

  What is the purpose of Sociology/ What kind of things do they research? How has the government/ political parties used data from this type of research?


Positivism/ Functionalism  

•           Sociologists should work with governments to uncover objective ‘causes’ of social problems such as crime/ suicide etc.

•           Do this using stats to find trends

•           Help to governments to formulate policies to improve society gradually


·         Governments claim to collect data about the social world in a ‘value free’

·         E.G. Office for National Statistics employs over 4000 people to collect and analyse data on everything from family trends (births/ marriages/ deaths are recorded) to crime statistics

·         The UK national census is also a good example (from 2011)

·         Governments use this data to make decisions about how many school places will be needed, how many prison places etc.

Marxism and others on the left! •           Sociology should target research to highlight a) the exploitation by the Bourgeois and b) the oppression of the working classes

·         Research includes looking at the relationship between social class and inequality in education

·         Research into the unfair criminal justice system

·         Research on the harms ‘Corporate elites’ do (Corporate Crimes and Tombs and Whyte)

·         The Spirit Level



·         Marxists argue that governments mainly ignore research done from a Marxist Agenda because governments typically consist of the upper middle classes.

·         UK education policy has allowed private education to continue

·         Looking at Crime Policy – the government does not adequately fund the Health and Safety Executive which prosecutes companies which breach health and safety law, neither does it adequately fund the Financial Services Authority, which prosecutes companies and individuals who engage in financial crimes

·         Finally, despite the findings of the spirit level, taxation policy has tended to favour wealthy individuals and Corporations since the Thatcher years in the early ‘80s Before the Tories came into power, there was a 90% rate of tax on earned income over —– – today the top rate of tax on earned income is 50% (on all income over £150 000).

Feminism ·         Research gender inequalities

·         Liberal Feminism traditionally focussed on achieving political and economic equality for women

·         Contemporary Feminism Focusses on –

·         Patriarchal ideology in the family

·         Domestic Violence

·         Beauty Myth

·         Sex trafficking


·         Policies promoting gender equality include

o   The vote (obviously) (1918 and 28)

o   The divorce act (1969)

o   The equal pay act (1972)

o   Rape in marriage made illegal (1991)

o   The Paternity Act (2011)

·         HOWEVER: The current government seems to want to reverse women’s rights –

o   70% of the government cuts fall on women

o   Prominent MPs such as Nadine Dories want to reduce the time limit for abortion, giving women less control over their bodies.


Interactionism ·         Research should be smaller scale and focus on micro level interactions

·         It should aim to achieve Verstehen

·         Traditionally focussed on process such as labelling and the self-fulfilling prophecy

·         Also inspired research on Police racism and labelling

·         Interactionists such as Becker criticise the government as being THE Source of labels – people in government label people not like them as ‘problems’ thus The government doesn’t tend to use interactionist research – it’s too small scale to be of interest.

·         There are some exceptions

o   Research on the extent of police labelling – Prompted compulsory multiculturalism training in the police

o   Ditto for training school teachers and other ‘state workers’.


The New Right ·         Kind of like modern day Functionalism

·         Believe the government should interfere less in social life and especially family life

·         The exception to this is through being ‘tough on crime’

THE CURRENT UK GOVERNMENT IS THE NEW RIGHT (More or less) (as was the last one, and the one before that)


Examples of New Right policies include…

·         The 1988 Education Act

·         Zero Tolerance Policing

·         Taxing the rich less (increasing inequality)

·         And basically ignoring anything that Marxist or Feminist inspired research says about the harmful effects of inequality on women and the poor.