example of consensus theory in education
Such a situation leads to social class reproduction, extensively studied by French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu. He researched how cultural capital , or cultural knowledge that serves (metaphorically) as currency that helps us navigate a culture, alters the experiences and opportunities available to French students from different social classes. Members of the upper and middle classes have more cultural capital than do families of lower-class status. As a result, the educational system maintains a cycle in which the dominant culture’s values are rewarded. Instruction and tests cater to the dominant culture and leave others struggling to identify with values and competencies outside their social class. For example, there has been a great deal of discussion over what standardized tests such as the SAT truly measure. Many argue that the tests group students by cultural ability rather than by natural intelligence.
Conflict theorists point to tracking , a formalized sorting system that places students on “tracks” (advanced versus low achievers) that perpetuate inequalities. While educators may believe that students do better in tracked classes because they are with students of similar ability and may have access to more individual attention from teachers, conflict theorists feel that tracking leads to self-fulfilling prophecies in which students live up (or down) to teacher and societal expectations (Education Week 2004).
In addition to these pull factors, poverty and the area one lives in are both correlated with criminal behaviour.
Much of the evidence cited for CONSENSUS THEORY is quantitative, and even if 70% of criminals come from broken homes, it will still be a minority of families whose children commit crime. If we look at the cases of those who do commit crime in more depth, we realise that many of them face multiple problems such as living in deprived areas and drug and alcohol abuse.
Consensus theory has the following implications to educational practice:
In addition to being either positive or negative, functions can be either manifest or latent. A manifest function is the intended and recognized consequence of some element of society. A manifest function of the automobile, for example, is to provide speedy transportation from one location to another. A latent function, on the other hand, is the unintended and unrecognized consequence of an element of society. A latent function of the automobile is to gain social standing through the display of wealth.
The sociological perspective, functionalism, developed from the writings of the French sociologist, Emile Durkheim (1858-1917).
Functionalism is essentially a conservative idea, based on the view that social change is a gradual process that happens naturally when the consensus shifts.
Cultural reproduction theory is most closely associated with the work of French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu (1930–2002). Bourdieu is one of many theorists associated with what is known as poststructuralism. Poststructuralism is a reaction to structural functionalism, which favours the importance of social structures in explanation of social life over individual action. Poststructuralism is associated mostly with the writings of a fairly diverse set of French philosophers (including Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault) whose only substantial area of agreement was that structuralism was flawed. There is no tidy definition that encompasses all the major theorists associated with poststructuralism—their areas of writing were all very disparate.
John Meyer (along with his associates) is another sociologist of education (currently professor emeritus of sociology at Stanford University) who also questions the overall legitimacy of credentialism. His developments in the theories around sociology of education were largely a reaction to the arguments put forth by the structural functionalists and the Marxist scholars in the 1970s. He has noted that educational systems have expanded worldwide, but that this expansion is not necessarily related to labour market demands. Known as institutional theory , Meyer’s central argument is that the global expansion of education has not been the result of institutional or workforce requirements for this level of training, but rather that of a wider democratic belief in the good of expanding education associated with institutional rituals and ceremonies that make it legitimate, rather than actual practices in the workforce that necessitate such levels of training (Meyer and Rowan 1977, 1978; Meyer, Boli, Thomas, and Ramirez 1997). He has further argued that there is a loose coupling (or a weak association) between the belief in the importance of expanding schooling in democratic societies (reflected in government and political positions) and the actual need for such skills. Loose coupling also exists when educational ideals are expressed (again, perhaps by government agencies or in policies), but the actual ability to attain those skills is rather limited.