Marx and Durkheim and their Theories of Capitalism and Industrialism Essay

Marx and Durkheim and their Theories of Capitalism and Industrialism Essay

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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 and their theories of Capitalism and Industrialism. The founder of ‘Marxism’was a German philosopher and sociologist named Karl Marx. Marx saw education as a way of allowing the Bourgeoisie (upper class) to keep control of the Proletariat (working classes) using only ideas and concepts rather than force. Marxists would consider the school system to be based upon the idea of hierarchy. Marxists would claim education ‘reproduces the privileges and dominance of the ruling class through access to educational advantages leading to elite jobs and social positions’ (Moore, 2004). Contrasting Marxist ideologies is the Durkheimian theory of education. David Emile Durkheim was a French philosopher and sociologist who had a significant influence upon the sociology of education. Durkheim had a functionalist view of education. Functionalists believe that education is needed to pass down knowledge from previous generations as well as teaching individuals social norms. Durkheim believed education was important t...


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...ling could be considered imperative for social reproduction. This is the reproduction of a new generation of workers regimented into accepting their position in society.

Both Marxist and Durkhemian theories are based on ‘logics of development’ (Moore, 2004). They both provide a knowledge base in Industrialism or Capitalism whereby other factors can be deduced. This means both theories can be tested and results can be predicted; which is a highly commendable attribute. However this is also where both theories are unsuccessful. This is due to the fact there can be anomalies to the theory, such as in the case of Marxism, the working class can move up or down into a different class bands. Considering this, we must not solely rely upon one theorist ideas individually as both are useful however neither one can’t fully explain the rise of compulsory education alone.







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