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Sociological Approaches

to Education
Karl Marx
 Developed by Karl
Marx in the 19th
 Marx and Engels
wrote the famous
Manifesto” in 1846
 Marx developed the
political system
known as
 Marxism is a method
of socioeconomic
analysis that
views class relations
and social conflict using
a materialist
interpretation of
development and takes
a dialectical view of
social transformation.
 Marxism uses a
methodology, now
known as historical
materialism, to
analyze and critique
the development of
class society and
of capitalism as well
as the role of class
struggles in systemic
economic, social, and
political change.
 Historical materialism, also known as
the materialist conception of history, is a
methodology used by
some communist and Marxist
historiographers that focuses on
human societies and their development through
history, arguing that history is the result
of material conditions rather than ideas.
Dialectical Materialism
 Core belief of Marxism
 Marx believed that society has progressed from
one economic system to another
 As society progresses from a feudal system to a
more market-based economy, the actual
process from producing, distributing, and
consuming goods becomes more complex
 People functions within the economic system
become differentiated.
Communist Manifesto (1848)

 States that the history of all existing societiesis

the history of class struggle.

 They declared that the capitalists, or the

bourgeoisie, had successfully enslaved the
working class, or the proletariat through
economic policies and production of goods.
Das Capital (1867)

 The ideology of society such as the beliefs,

values and culture is determined by the upper
 The rich become richer the poor become poorer.
 When considering
Marxist theory it is
useful to remember
the 3 Cs;
 Class
 Conflict
 Capitalism
 These provide a
“baseline” to Marxist
Class -the basis of Marxist theory
 Marx was concerned by the
inequalities between social
 A very small proportion of
wealthy people owned huge
amounts of land and factories
 Marx called these people the
BOURGEOISIE and the land or
factories they owned the
 Most of the people worked for
the Bourgeoisie as waged
Proletariat Bourgeoisie
Class of society which Wealthy class that rules
does not have society
ownership of the means
of production
The basis of Marxist theory
 These waged labourers were
named the PROLETARIAT and
were exploited, claimed Marx,
by the bourgeoisie as they
earned only enough money to
 All the Proletariat owned was
their labour and thus had no
control over their working lives
and no share in the profits
 Factory production lines meant
they became “alienated” from
their craft
Class, conflict and capitalism
 The differences between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat
demonstrate a wide class division.
 According to Marx, the interests of the bourgeoisie or ruling class
were protected and promoted.
 The ensuing social inequalities caused conflict in society.
 Capitalism also causes conflict of interest between the classes.
 The need for the bourgeoisie to make profits is in conflict with the
need of the proletariat to earn enough money to have decent living
 Profits certainly came first during the Industrial Revolution.
 The bourgeoisie became extremely wealthy while the proletariat
worked long hours for little pay and lived in squalor.
How does Education fit in with
 Why did the proletariat put up with these harsh and
unfair conditions?
 Marx believed the proletariat existed in a state of FALSE
CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS – they accepted their life and
situation as inevitable
 Capitalist Ideology, gave legal protection to the
bougeoisie and taught the proletariat that powerful
members of society deserved respect
 This is described as Hegemony – the dominant culture
based on a set of fixed beliefs
 How was this ideology transmitted? Through institutions
such as Religion, Government, Family and
Is Marxism still relevant?
 Marx was describing a society
150 years ago but modern
Marxists believe his ideas to be
broadly true
 Social classes are not as
sharply divided now but harsh
inequalities remain
 Modern Marxists believe that
the education system is one of
the main agents of control,
depriving working class
children of opportunities to
improve their situation