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MODULE 1: SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION

UNIT 1: Nature and scope of Sociology of Education


CONTENTS
1.0

Introduction

2.0

Objectives

3.0

Main Content
3.1

Origin of Sociology

3.2

Meaning of Sociology

3.3

Scope/nature of Sociology

3.4

Meaning of Sociology of education

3.5

Functions of Sociology

3.6

Meaning of Education

3.7

Relevance of Sociology of education to the


teacher

4.0

Conclusion

5.0

Summary

1.0

INTRODUCTION

This unit presents the Fundaments of Sociology of Education,


with emphasis on the meaning of sociology, its functions, meaning
of education and the relevance of sociology of education to the
teacher.
2.0

OBJECTIVES

By the end of this unit, you should be able to:


a. Discuss the origin of Sociology
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MODULE 1: SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION

b. Define Sociology as a concept


c. Discuss the scope/nature of Sociology
d. Define Sociology of education
e. Discuss the functions of sociology
f. Explain the meaning of education
g. Explain the relevance of Sociology of education to the
Teacher
3.0

MAIN CONTENT

This unit looks at sociology as the study of society and human


social action. Sociology concerns itself with the social rules and
processes that connect and separate people not only as
individuals, but as members of associations, groups, and
institutions, and includes the analysis of the organisation and
development of human social life.
3.1

Origin of Sociology

The origin of Sociology can be traced from Europe especially


France and Germany around the 19th century. It then extended
and grew faster in the United States of America. Sociology
became a subject of keen interest during the 19 th century when
western civilization was undergoing vast social upheavals that
accompanied the industrial revolution.
Let us look at the three factors that led to the development of
sociology.
Industrial Revolution
Travel
Success of Natural Sciences
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Industrial Revolution
Europe

was

changing

from

agriculture

to

factory

production.
Hugh numbers of people moved to the cities in search of
work.
In cities people met the challenges of poverty, filth and
crowding.
The traditional order was challenged by the industrial
revolution and this gave way to democratic changes.
Social changes undermined the traditional explanations of
human existence.
Travel
The Europeans had been successful in getting colonies
around the world.
The colonies they obtained exposed Europeans to totally
different cultures; they began asking questions why
cultures differ.
Success in natural sciences
It seemed logical to discover the laws underlying social
phenomena.
3.2

Meaning of Sociology

Sociology as a field of discipline is umbrella in nature because it


deals with the totality of human interaction. It is a systematic
study of human groups and social behavior. It tries to find out
the influence of social relationships on peoples behavior and
attitudes and also how societies are established and changed. In
simple terms sociology is the study of mans interaction within
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MODULE 1: SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION

the society. But this definition is not adequate as sociology deals


with the organization and control of peoples behavior and
attitudes in the society.
Sociology is concerned with the social facts in the economy,
family, region, politics and so on. The assessment of the social
facts within society acts as a way to solve problems amongst the
people. Therefore sociology as a field helps the members of any
society to solve social or behavioral problem in order to create a
better society. Sociologist thus are people serving the society in
different capacities, such as teachers, lecturers, social workers,
researchers, administrators, town planners, and so forth. It is on
this basis that basic knowledge of sociology for teachers is
important for a better understanding of society we live in.
3.3

Scope/nature of Sociology

Sociology as discussed above mainly involves the study of human


behavior, not as an individual but as the member of a society. It
is therefore important that members are initiated into the
lifestyle of the society where they live.
On the other hand when you look at the nature of sociology, you
will notice that the subject is a scientific discipline. It is a
science because it involves objective and systematic ways of
investigating and evaluating our social reality.
3.4

Meaning of Sociology of Education

Sociology of education is an applied form of sociology. It will


allow you to study the process of education as a tool for
introducing learners into the way of life of a society. The
following are important areas of study of sociology of education.
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The processes of education that have social relevance on


the social life of a learner
The concepts of education that are of social relevance,
these are social groups and associations within the school
Social systems and institutions which are relevant to
education
A comparison of the systems of education in different
parts of the world.
3.5

Functions of Sociology

Sociology performs a number of roles within the society. Some


of the roles are as follows:
Sociology helps in the analysis of different types of
relationships within the society. It is the concern of
sociology to identify why certain undesirable behaviors are
present in human beings. Such behaviors must be checked
and changed. For instance, within the society, there are
young boys and girls who get initiated into unacceptable
behaviors due to ignorance or reason beyond the victims
explanation. It is within the interest of sociology to
investigate into the causes of unacceptable behaviors. This
can be done through critical analysis of the problem and
try to offer a solution.
Sociology exposes members of the society to how
authority and power are got within the society and why
some customs, beliefs and practices cannot be done away
with. All human beings are the same when it comes to taste
of power or privileged positions. Every person will give
reasons to cling to power and authority due to benefits
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found in those positions. Authority and power are as sweet


as honey.
Sociology attempts to explain the relationship between
different sub-systems in society. This can be between the
educational system and the political system or the
relationship between the political system and the economic
system. There is an inter relationship among all the system
in society. That is why there should be a health
relationship among sub systems in order to foster growth
and development.
Sociology reveals to individuals that society is dynamic and
transitory in nature. Individual become aware that the
society is not static and therefore calls for dynamic
thought and actions. For instance in this technological
world of computers, individuals are expected to be
computer literate in order to function effectively and be
integrated within the society.
Sociology examines different human backgrounds. This
helps in tolerating and accommodating individuals with
differences in cultural background and orientation.
Sociology has a role of identifying various human needs in
the society and explaining how these needs are met and
satisfied. Sociology teaches people to aspire to meet and
satisfy those needs that will assist you in living a
meaningful life. For instance an individual who is involved in
stealing is regarded as an unacceptable member of the
society.
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3.6

Meaning of Education

Education can be defined depending on the purpose it is meant to


serve and the discipline it is looking at. In sociology, education
can be explained as an activity which goes on in the society
where its methods and aims relay on the nature of the society in
which it takes place. In specific terms, education is a means of
making people understand their society and its structure.
Education provides well behaved individuals who have the ability
to analyze ideas and contribute meaningfully towards the
development of the society.
Education in any society is there to transmit to the young the
culture of that society. The parents, teachers and other member
of the society contribute greatly towards transmitting of
cultural ideas to the young. It therefore means that every
member of the society has a duty to transmit knowledge for the
survival of individuals. That is why education is an important tool
for human growth and survival.

SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE


Discuss the relevance of education to the Society.

3.7

Relevance of Sociology of Education to the Teacher


Teachers need to study sociology of education for the
following reasons:
Teachers learn and uphold the norms and values of
society. These help the teacher to prepare for social
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living and enable him/her to perform social functions


properly.
The Knowledge of sociology of education helps to foster
social interaction and unity in the society. Sociology of
education helps to promote teacher pupil and pupil
pupil interaction within the school.
Sociology of education helps teachers to promote social
perpetuation. It ensures that the norms, values and
attitudes of a society are passed from one generation
to the next. The culture and identity of a society is
kept from extinction.
Sociology of education equips teachers with adequate
knowledge to offer solutions to the social crisis in the
society.
The knowledge of sociology of education, if well
implemented by the teacher during lessons will make
the lesson more interesting and create an environment
conducive for pupils to learn in.

SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE


Discuss the relevance of sociology of education to the
preparation of Teachers.

SELF ASSESSMENT TEST


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MODULE 1: SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION

1. Sociology of Education can best be defined as the:


A. Study of relationships between education and society
B. Study of education from a sociological perspective
C. Study of classroom dynamics
D. Study of different education systems
2. One of the views of Sociology of Education in the 1920s was
that it was:
A. A study of understanding schooling
B. A study of solving the problems in society
C. A study of explaining the processes involved in social
development
D. A study of understanding processes of social organization
3. Sociology of Education grew fast in the USA because of:
A. The freedom of expression
B. The expansion of the education system
C. The industrial growth
D. The end of slave trade
4. Which one of the following is not an aim of Sociology of
Education?
A. Explanation of behavior in a school setting
B. Explanation of processes involved in pupils memory
C. Improvement of teaching in the school
D. Identification of educational problems for analysis

5. One of the earliest views about Sociology of Education was


that:
A. It was a study of the relationship between administration
and education
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B. It was a study of social statics


C. It was a study of the goals of education
D. It was the study of social dynamics

4.0

CONCLUSION

Sociology as a scientific field of study looks at man in the


society. There are different functions which sociology performs
in the society. It act as a link between different sub-systems in
the society, it also analyses different relationships within the
society. Education is the molding of an individual in line with his
culture, in order for the person to become an acceptable
member of the society.
5.0

SUMMARY

This unit looked at the meaning of sociology as mans interaction


in the society. It also brought out the functions of sociology. It
further focused on the relevance of sociology of education to
the teacher.

UNIT 2:

Theories in Sociology of Education

CONTENT
1.0

Introduction

2.0

Objectives
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3.0

Main Content
3.1

Labeling theory

3.2

Functionalist Perspective

3.3

Conflict theory

3.4

Symbolic interaction theory

4.0

Conclusion

5.0

Summary

1.0

INTRODUCTION

This Unit is packaged to bring you closer to the theories in


sociology of education. Theory is a set of interrelated
statements that gives an explanation for an event. It lets us put
together a multitude of facts so that we may understand them
as a whole. Theory will let you see the relationship among events
that are not evident in isolated parts.
2.0 OBJECTIVES
By the end of this Unit, you should be able to:
a. Discuss Labeling theory
b. Discuss Functionalist perspective
c. Discuss conflict theory
d. Discuss symbolic interaction theory
3.0 MAIN CONTENT
There are three paradigms in sociology: Functionalism, conflict
theory and interactionist theory. For our study in this unit we
have also included labeling theory because of it great importance
to education.

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3.1

Labeling theory

The 1960s and 1970s witnessed the emergence of the labelling


theory in sociology as a theoretical perspective of understanding
social delinquency or deviance. Edwin Lemert is widely considered
the producer and founder of the original version of labelling
theory.
The major concern of the labelling theory is with the process by
which individuals in the society are labelled as deviants, not the
individuals themselves. In other words, the labelling theory is
concerned with the way one is treated rather than with ones
character. For example in the case of a diploma holder teacher
and a certificate holder teacher, the difference between them
is not in their titles, but in the way they are treated.
A number of important questions are raised in connection with
this theoretical perspective, among which are: Who labels whom?
Will the label be permanent or not?
people

think

is

abnormal

What kind of behaviour do

behaviour,

and

what

are

the

consequences of their interpretation of such behaviour?


The central argument of the labelling theory is that, society
creates deviants. It is society which gives labels to certain
individuals, and which makes these labels permanent, making
these individuals deviants. One is not a thief until someone blows
the whistle.
It is important to note that there is no clear consensus among
those who label others about the kind of behaviour or act which
is deviant. One individual or one kind of behaviour may be
considered deviant by one person, but not so by another. It may
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depend on the kind of relationship between the one who labels


and the one who is labelled.
By placing emphasis on the process, the labelling theory sees a
deviant as a product of a process being caught, segregated
against and given a label. The reaction of society to one who has
committed a crime reinforces criminal behaviour, or makes a
person a die-hard deviant.
Lemert (1951) describes the sequence of actions from primary
to secondary deviation as follows:
First act of deviance (primary deviation).
Society punishes the person for the first act.
The punished reacts to the punishment by committing
another act, (further primary deviation).
Society applies stronger punishment and shows rejection.
The punished commits another act further deviation
which may be accompanied with hatred to those who are
punishing him/her.
The society shows no tolerance of such an individual now.
Such individual now show stronger deviant behaviour of the
penalties or punishments.
Finally the person accepts the status, agrees that he/she
is a deviant (criminal). This is now secondary deviation.
Labelling theory: Its application to the classroom
Two major questions or concerns will be dealt with here who
labels whom and the outcome of the labelling theory.
Who labels whom?
It is generally accepted that it is the teachers who label
their pupils. It is teachers who call their pupils dull, clever, or
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troublemaker. It is teachers who, to a certain extent,


determine whether a pupil will pass or fail or is a bad pupil or
a good pupil. Teachers sometimes act as judges; they judge
the pupils and try by all means to convict them during the
process of interaction.
During this process of interaction, the pupil usually comes to
know what the teacher expects of him or her, or knows the
label, and he/she performs and behaves according to the label
the teacher has placed on him or her. Therefore it is the
teacher who decides the fate or who holds the future of the
pupil in his/her hand.
Teachers always have some form of ideas of the kind of pupils
they are dealing with in terms of their behaviour and
performance. It does not take long for a teacher to form the
ideas or opinions about his or her pupils in the classroom. It
may take only a few days or weeks for teachers to label their
pupils. Sometimes teachers form certain views about pupils
even before they meet them in the classroom. These ideas
are taken to class or school and this is how they perceive the
pupils.
However, I have many times heard students in the sociology
of education course saying it is not only teachers who label
their students but students label their teachers also.
Sometimes pupils give labels to their teachers in form of
names for a number of reasons. A teacher may be brilliant,
dull or boring, or may have certain mannerisms or because of
the nature of the subject or topic he/she is teaching. Some
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teachers react badly to these names, and create problems for


themselves. Teachers should remember that some of these
names are given to them as a way of remembering the
material taught by the teacher.

SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE


1. The major concern of the labelling theory is with

the process by

which individuals are labelled as....................


2. The three main areas of interest to labelling theory are:
a. .........................................................................................
b. .........................................................................................
c. .........................................................................................

3.2

Structural Functionalist Theory


The structural functionalist or functionalist perspective relies
heavily on the ideas of the following:
Emile Durkheim

Herbert Spencer

Auguste Comte
The structure functional approach is sometimes referred to as
the consensus model. The theory looks at society from a macro
sociological point of view.

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Society as a social system


The starting point for functionalists is the idea that society is a
system, a combination of parts that make a larger whole.
Functionalists attempt to do two things: first relate the parts of
society to the whole and second, relate one part to another.
Among the important parts of any society are institutions such
as the family, education, religion, the economy and the state.
Functionalists identify the social functions performed by each
institution. For instance the family is said to focus mainly on
reproduction, socialization and maintenance of children. When
change occurs in one institution it has implications for other
institutions and the society as a whole. For example if fewer
children are born, enrolment in schools will also be low.
The structural functionalist theory on the other hand
recognises that there are

inequalities in society. These

inequalities are regarded as necessary to have order in society.


Structural functionalists see inequality and stratification in
education as coming from the needs of a whole society and not
just from the needs of individuals or special groups.

Functionalist view of Schooling


According to structural functionalism schooling is important for
the following reasons:
Schooling identifies above average students from the
average and below average students.
Schooling makes sure that the talented students occupy
high positions in society.
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Reasons are that functionalists believe that those who have


excelled in society are those who have worked hard for the
positions. Such people deserve the highest rewards. It is true
to say society needs the best and the brightest to function at
the highest levels.
Functionalists also look at the following specific purposes or
functions of schooling.
The Intellectual purposes of schooling
Teaching

basic

skills

like

reading,

writing

and

subjects

like

mathematics.
Transmitting

specific

knowledge

in

history, literature and sciences.


Helping students acquire thinking skills such as analysis,
evaluation and synthesis.
The political purposes of schooling
Inculcating allegiance to the existing political order.
Helping assimilate different cultural groups into a
common political order.
Teaching children the basic laws of the society.
The social purpose of schooling
Socialization children into various roles, behaviours and
values of the society.
The economic purposes of education
Preparing students for their occupational roles.
Selecting, training and allocating individuals into the
division of labour.
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SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE


According to the functionalist perspective, why has
poverty in society not been eliminated?
Discuss how structural functionalists see the role of
education in society today and the contributions that it
makes to social life.
What is meritocracy?

3.3

Conflict Theory
Conflict theory draws much of its inspiration from the works
of Karl Marx (1818 1883). This theory stresses that change
in society is

brought about by

interaction with the

environment. It states that:


Society has classes, and there is a continuous struggle
between the rich and the poor
The struggle between the contending classes leads to
inevitable conflict
Change comes about as a result of the conflict
The three types of classes are as follows:
Ruling or upper class
This class comprises of people with a lot of wealth.
They own factories, companies, land and so forth. In
other words they have control on wealth, power,
prestige, resources and authority in the society.
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Middle class
This class comprises of professional workers such as
doctors, engineers, lawyers and accountants. Majority
of these people do not own the businesses or
institutions they work for. They achieve their positions
through school and getting an educational qualification.
Working or lower class
This class comprises of people who do not own any
businesses.

They

have

less

or

no

educational

qualifications at all. This group mainly consists of


manual or casual workers.
From the conflict perspective, people are encouraged through
the process of socialization to be competitive. This is because
every individual, group or class are trying hard to get the
best that they can out of life or they are trying to prevent
others from taking the things they have. Although there are
shared values in society, conflict theorists argue that this is
only because the powerful people impose their values on the
rest of society through the media, schools, religion and so
forth.
The main characteristic of a society from a conflict
perspective is inequality. It is therefore argued that
economic inequality is at the centre of any society. This
means that some people will have more money than they need
while others will have less money than they need. Therefore it
is in the interest of the rich people who have wealth to keep

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and extend what they own. As for the people who have little
or no wealth, it is up to them to try and improve their lives.
Functional theorists do recognise social inequality, but they
say that inequality is functional for society. For example the
most qualified people, get the most important job. Conflict
theorists on the other hand, begin with the idea that a
society is economically unequal. From this point, those who are
most powerful in the society will try to socialize the least
powerful into accepting inequality in any way they can. The
way this is done is through socialization. The wealthy and
powerful occupy the most important and influential positions
in the society. They use their power to advance their own
interests through the following processes:
Convincing

people

that

their

lack

of

wealth,

influence, power or status is due to their own fault.


When people compete against each other, some will
win and others will lose. The losers need to be
convinced that the competition is free and fair.
Their inability to achieve the good things in life is
said to be their own individual problem. This is where
institutions such as religion, education and the mass
media are important. They play their role in
encouraging the people to see the world in this way.
However, if for any reason people fail to be
socialized fully in these values, then force is
available to make them see the errors in their
actions.

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Conflict Theory on inequality


Marxs basic point was that Inequality leads to oppression of the
have-nots by the haves, and this is morally wrong. The solution is
to bring about equality through a revolution if necessary in
order to achieve a just and fair society. Inequality is due to the
following reasons:
Different groups in society struggle over limited resources
and compete for social advantages. Classes exist in conflict
with each other as they vie for power, economic, social,
and political resources.
Inequality results from a system of domination and
subordination where those with the most resources
exploit and control others.
The powerful and rich people use their resources to
reproduce their position and advantages. The Elites shape
the beliefs and laws of society to make their unequal
privileges seem legitimate and fair.
There is blocked mobility in the system because the
working class and the poor are denied the same
opportunities as others.
The most important jobs that sustain the quality of
life of a society are often the least rewarding. These
jobs involve people like teachers, nurses, cashers,
restaurant hostesses, bartenders and shop counter
attendants.

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Conflict view of education


Education perpetuates class, gender and race inequalities.
From the Marxist perspective, schools can be said to
repressive institutions. This is because teachers and other
ordinary persons have little control of what goes on in the
education sector. The education system tends to transmit
the values and ideas of the ruling class.
Tracking which is also called streaming is separating pupils
by academic ability into groups for all subjects within a
school.
Standardized tests cultural bias.
The hidden curriculum: Teaching attitudes of obedience to
authority and keeping the rules.
Credentials: Class advantage and social status are linked to
academic qualifications.

SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE


True or False
1. Conflict theory focuses on the macro-sociological
perspective
2. The proletariats are also known as the have-nots

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Fill-in the blanks


Mention three (3) things according to the conflict theory which
determine the rewards that an individual gets in a particular job.
a. .........................................................................................
b. .........................................................................................
c. .........................................................................................

3.4

Symbolic Interaction Theory


Symbolic interaction theory looks at society from a micro
sociological point of view. In other words they study society on a
small scale in order for them to understand the large scale. They
are concerned with the relationship between individuals and the
society.
Interactionists focus on peoples everyday behaviour and how
these people react to their surroundings. The surrounding may
include material things, other people, actions or symbols. To give
an example we can say that interactionists would not look at
what education does for the whole society, but they would look
at one class in a college and how lecturers and students interact
with each other. They would then look at how this affects
individual student performance.
George Herbert Mead (1863 1931) is known as the father of
symbolic interactionism (he liked to call it social behaviourism)
even though he did not coin the term. After Meads death in
1934, his students put together his class notes and published

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MODULE 1: SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION

mind, self and society. It was then that the term symbolic
interactionism was coined by his student Herbert Blumer.
Mead focused on the one to one analysis of situations and small
groups. He paid much attention to body language such as a nod
and how another person would respond to such a gesture.
The interactionist view of the society is that people influence
each others everyday social interactions. They believe that an
individual

will

interaction.

create

his/her

own

social

world

through

It is therefore thought that social order is

maintained when individuals share their understanding of


everyday behaviour.
It is true to say that human beings construct such actions on the
basis of the meanings of the objects they encounter. They
define situations as real as they are real in their consequences.
Therefore Mead says, through a process of role taking a person
imagines how they themselves appear to others, thus becoming a
symbolic

object

to

themselves.

People

then

respond

to

themselves on the basis of the meaning they give to their actions


through the process of role taking. What is role taking? This is
when people not only come to see themselves as others see them,
but also take on or pretend to take on the role of others through
imitation, play and game. This process allows people to anticipate
what other expects of them.
3.0

CONCLUSION

Sociology has developed approaches to the systematic study of


society. Each of them provides an important view of examining
society, social phenomenon and human interactions.
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MODULE 1: SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION

4.0

SUMMARY

In this unit the contributions of the theories to sociology of


education have been highlighted.
Labelling theory tells us that it is society that creates deviants.
Functionalist perspective takes the notion that the study of
sociology of education helps us to explain issues that we do not
understand. It emphasizes the fact that institutions within
society, such as education, are made up of inter-dependent parts
all working together.
Conflict perspective shares the view that social forces within a
society

make

conflict

inevitable.

Such

conflict

can

be

experienced at school that includes teachers and children from


different cultural groups.
`Symbolic interaction theory stresses that individuals interact
with each other. If they share the same culture, their
interpretation of social situations will be similar. They will share
common norms that will guide their behavior.

UNIT 3:

Contributions

of

Early

Thinkers

to

Sociology
CONTENT
1.0

Introduction

2.0

Objectives

3.0

Main Content
3.1

Auguste Comte
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1.0

3.2

Herbert Spencer

3.3

Karl Marx

3.4

Emile Durkheim

3.5

Max Weber

4.0

Conclusion

5.0

Summary

INTRODUCTION
This Unit looks at the renounced founding fathers of sociology.
You are asked to study these early sociologists because of their
great contributions to the origin and development of sociology.

2.0

OBJECTIVES
By the end of this unit you should be able to:
a. List the founding fathers of sociology
b. Identify specific contributions of the founding fathers of
sociology

3.0

MAIN CONTENT
In this unit emphasis is on the founding fathers of sociology and
their major contribution to sociology.

3.1

Auguste Comte

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Auguste Comte (1798 1857) was born and educated in France.


He coined the term sociology, which is derived from the Latin
word socius meaning companion or associate and the Greek word
logos meaning study or science. Comte is therefore regarded as a
father of sociology because of the great influence he had upon
the subject.
Aim of sociology according to Comte
The main aim of sociology according to Comte is to discover the
universal laws that govern the organization of the world and
evolution of humanity.
Auguste Comte and Positivism
The term positivism was coined by Comte. It originated in the
late 18th century and referred mainly to the natural sciences
such as physics, chemistry and mathematics. We will discuss
positivism in detail when we will look at approaches to the study
of sociology in unit 4.
The social statics
This involves ways in which the parts of a social system interact
with one another. Social statics deals with institutions of society
such as the family, religion, economy, education and so on.
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MODULE 1: SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION

Sociology is seen as the study of inter-relations between these


institutions. In the words of Comte, the statical study of
sociology consist the investigations of laws of action and
reaction of different parts of the social system. Comte argued
that the parts of a society cannot be studied separately as if
they had independent existence.
The social dynamics
Social dynamics focuses on the whole of society as the unit of
analysis. It looks at how societies develop and change. It is
therefore important to remember that, the laws of social
dynamics are most recognizable when they apply to the largest
societies.
Comte believed that all societies move through stages of
development and increase in perfection as they progress.
The Law of the 3 stages
Theological stage
Searches for the essential nature of things.
People come to believe that all phenomena are created and
influenced by supernatural forces and gods.
Monotheism (the belief that there is only one God) is the
main belief system of the Theological stage.
The basic social unit is the family.

Metaphysical stage
Mysterious and abstract forces replace the supernatural
forces as the power that explains the activities of the
world
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MODULE 1: SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION

The basic social unit is the state


Positivist stage
The last and highest stage
People search for invariant laws that govern all of the
phenomena of the world.
The basic social unit is humanity as a whole.

SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE


According to Auguste Comte. Sociology is
the study of
What was Comtes contribution to sociology?

3.2

Herbert Spencer

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MODULE 1: SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION

Herbert Spencer (1820 1903) an English sociologist is


sometimes called the second founder of sociology. Spencer
looked at society to be similar to the human body. He viewed
society as a system made up of institutions such as the family,
education, religion, economy and the government. Similarly
Spencer related society to the human body which is made up of
organs like the lungs, kidneys, heart and intestines. This image of
society is in line with what sociologists today call structural
functional theory.
Spencer shared Comtes concern on social statics and social
dynamics. But Spencer was more concerned with social dynamics.
He convinced himself that societies do evolve from lower to
higher forms of civilization. As generations pass, the most
capable and intelligent, we can call them the fittest members
of the society will survive. While on the other hand the less
capable will die out. In this way societies will gradually improve
over time. To help those in the lower classes is interfering with
the natural processes of society. Spencer emphasized that those
who are fit survive and reproduce while those who are unfit
die out. He called this principle the survival of the fittest.
3.3

Karl Marx

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MODULE 1: SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION

The life and works of Karl Marx


Karl Marx (1818 1883) was born in Trier, Germany. His father
Hirschel Marx was a lawyer.
After schooling in Trier, Marx went to study law at Bonn
University. He then moved to Berlin where he met Bruno Bauer.
Bauer introduced Marx to the writings of Hegel G, who had been
a professor of philosophy in Berlin.
After completing his doctoral thesis at the University of Jena,
Marx hoped that Bauer would find him a teaching job.
Unfortunately Bauer lost his job in 1842 because of his
outspoken atheism and could not help Karl Marx.
Marx made an attempt at journalism. He then moved to Cologne
where The Rhenish Gazette newspaper published an article he
wrote in which he defended the freedom of the press.
While in Cologne, Marx started attending socialist meetings
organized by Moses Hess. Based on what he heard at these
meetings, Marx wrote an article on the poverty of the Mosel
wine farmers. The article was published in The Rhenish
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MODULE 1: SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION

Gazette in January 1843, because it was critical of the


government

the

newspaper

was

banned

by

the

Prussian

authorities.
Marx moved to France where he was offered the post of editor
of a new political journal, called Franco German Annals. After
writing an article for the Franco German Annals in February
1844, the journal was banned in Germany.
In 1844 Marx wrote Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts. In
this work he developed his ideas on the concept of alienation.
Marx identified three kinds of alienation in capitalist society.
First, the worker is alienated from what he/she produces.
Second, the worker is alienated from him/herself; only when
he/she is not working does he/she truly feel him/herself. Finally,
in a capitalist society people are set against other people. Marx
believed

the

solution

to

this

problem

was

communism.

While in Paris, Marx became a close friend of Friedrich Engels,


and the two men decide to work together. In January 1845,
Marx received orders deporting him from France. Marx and
Engels decided to move to Belgium a country with greater
freedom of expression.
In Brussels Marx concentrated on writing The Communist
Manifesto, a 12,000 word pamphlet which he finished in six
weeks. Written for a mass audience, the book summarised the
forthcoming revolution and the nature of the communist society
that

would

be

established

by

the

proletariat.

The communist Manifesto was published in February, 1848. The


following month, the government expelled Marx from Belgium.
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MODULE 1: SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION

In May 1849, Marx went to France where he believed a socialist


revolution was likely to take place at any time. However, within a
month of arriving, the French police ordered him out of the
capital. In September, Marx sailed for England.
In 1852, Charles Dana, the socialist editor of the New York Daily
Tribune, offered Marx the opportunity to write for his
newspaper. Over the next ten years the newspaper published
hundreds of articles by Marx.
In 1867 the first volume of Das Kapital was published. The book
was a detailed analysis of capitalism. Marx began work on the
second volume of Das Kapital but progress was slow. He died on
March 14, 1883.
Marxs theory of society and social change
According to Marx, society is separated into two classes, which
are in conflict. These are the exploiting and the exploited. Marx
saw society as progressing from an original primitive community
stage, through slavery, feudal, capitalist, socialist and finally to
a communist society. These changes from stage to stage were
due to conflict within society and changes in modes of
production. By mode of production we mean the activities and
tools a society uses to satisfy its material needs.
For Marx the major agent of social change is the economic
structure of society. The capitalist class societies are those
where private ownership of the means of production exists. The
socialist and communist class societies are those where the
means of production are publicly or collectively owned. In society
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MODULE 1: SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION

there are two major classes, those who own the means of
economic production and those who do not. These are the
bourgeoisie and proletariat respectively. The bourgeoisie own
the means of production such as factories, businesses and
equipment used to produce wealth. The proletariats are the
workers. According to Marx the bourgeoisie in a capitalist
society exploit the workers. They pay them just enough wages
for food and a place to live in. The workers do not realize that
they are being exploited meaning they have a false consciousness
or a mistaken sense, that they are well off. They think that they
can depend on their bosses to do what is best for them.
The capitalist system is dependent upon the extraction of profit
by the owner from the labour of the proletariat (surplus value).
In order to accomplish this, the bourgeoisie class must
legitimate their claim to the surplus value either by social norms
or

by

force.

For

Marx

the

social

institutions

(the

superstructure) exist to reinforce and reproduce the social


norms relating to the economic structure.
Marx did foresee a workers revolution. As the rich become
richer, Marx had a vision that workers will develop a true class
consciousness or a sense of common identity based on the
common experience of exploitation by the bourgeoisie. After the
revolution the workers will then own the means of production and
the world will become communist. No one will control the access
to wealth. Everything will be owned equally by everyone.

34

MODULE 1: SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION

SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE


Distinguish between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Which
of the two is the exploiting class? Why? How is exploitation
justified?
3.4

Emile Durkheim

The main aim of Emile Durkheim (1858 1917) was to get


sociology recognized as a separate academic discipline. Up to this
time sociology was seen as part of economics and history.
Durkheim achieved this goal in 1887 when he received the first
academic appointment in sociology at university of Bordeaux.
The study of social facts
Durkheim was strongly influenced by the ideas of Auguste
Comte. Comte believed in positivism. Everything in science is
observable and provable. To Durkheim a social fact is a fact that
has a basis in scientific observation.
By a social fact, what is Durkheim referring to? He is simply
referring to facts, concepts or expectations that are not coming
from an individual responses or choices, but from the community
in which the individual socialises and is a member. Social facts
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MODULE 1: SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION

are ideas, feelings and ways of behaving that possess the


characteristic of existing outside the consciousness of an
individual. Social facts do not originate with the people
experiencing them. From the time you are born, the people
around you seek to impose upon you ways of thinking, feeling and
acting that you have no hand in creating. For example, the words
and gestures people use to express their thoughts, the rules and
regulations governing your school, the beliefs and rituals of
tradition you fellow, all were created before you came on the
scene. Therefore social facts have a life that goes beyond the
individual.
Mechanical solidarity
Mechanical solidarity is used to refer to a state of community
bonding. This bonding is evident in the beliefs, values and
cooperation that people share. In such a society people feel
connected through similar works, lifestyle and educational
training. An example of such a society is a small scale or
traditional farming community. In here social order and cohesion
is based on uniform thinking and behaviour.
Organic solidarity
Organic solidarity refers to a society with a complex division of
labour.

In

such

society

social

order

is

based

on

interdependence and cooperation among people performing


various specialized tasks. For example if you are a head teacher,
you depend on the secretary, teachers and general workers to
get your job done, but you also depend on the health workers for
your medical care and local transporters for your transportation.

36

MODULE 1: SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION

Durkheims view on education


Durkheim believed that education has many functions.
To reinforce social solidarity
Durkheim was concerned with what holds individuals
together in a social institution. For example what makes
you as teacher feel part of the school community and not
just break the rules in the school. The same applies to the
pupils about social solidarity. They have a way of pledging
allegiance to the school and the community.
To Maintain social roles
In schools children learn to interact and cooperate with
other members of the school and community by following
the set out rules. The experience of interacting with other
people prepares them for future roles.
To maintain division of labour
Schools play a role of sorting pupils into social groups and
encouraging them to find jobs in fields that suit their
ability.
SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE
1. Distinguish between mechanical and organic and
solidarity
2. Durkheim maintains that the sociologists task
is to study social facts. What are social facts?
3. What

is

social

integration

according

to

Durkheim?

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MODULE 1: SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION

3.5

Max Weber

Power and authority


Power
Power according to Max Weber is "the probability that one actor
in a social relationship will be in a position to carry out his will
despite resistance, regardless of the basis on which this
probability rests".
Power may be exercised in the following ways:
Force: The police trying to control a riotous crowd.
Religion: Convincing members that they must obey.
Control of economic resources: People with an economic
advantage will have more access to sharing of the available
resources.
Power is exercised in different institutions. Though it is
prominent in government, it is also exercised in the family,
school, church, prison, bank, and so on. When you think of power
you will notice that it is exercised whenever it is possible to
manipulate conditions that people must obey.
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MODULE 1: SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION

Power on its own is usually resented and is an unstable base for


administrators in a school or college. For a head teacher to
continue to be obeyed, his/her power must be legitimated and
become authority.
Authority
Authority according to Weber is the probability that a certain
command will be obeyed. The main point of authority is
voluntary obedience because a person believes that the source
of the command is legitimate and the person commanding has the
right to do so.
When you as a teacher accept authority, you suspend your own
judgement about the order because you agree that the person in
authority has a right to give it.
The question we need to ask is why authority?
Authority exists because groups of teachers and pupils share
certain beliefs. These beliefs lead to the development of group
norms for accepting commands from certain sources.
Obedience to commands is enforced by the group, be it teachers
or pupils. Anyone who wants to remain a member of the group
must accept this authority.
An administrator with authority in a school has certain rights
and responsibilities as do those under it.
Max Weber distinguished three types of authority. These are
traditional, charismatic and bureaucratic.

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MODULE 1: SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION

Traditional authority
Obedience is based on the acceptance of custom
It is legitimated by the sanctity of tradition
Members hold the belief that the social order was created
by god and that it is mans duty to conform. This is the
basis of the divine right and authority of chiefs.
Traditional power does grow and decline. Today the
authority of chiefs in Zambia has continued to diminish
because the government does want challenges in trying to
unite its people.
Traditional authority is not limited to chieftaincy but
there are those who are able to command because
subordinates customarily accept their authority.

Charismatic authority
Authority is given to a person because of his/her personal
magnetism.
It is based on a leader who embodies a movement and is
obeyed for ideological reasons.
It rests heavily on the leaders personal qualities and
characteristics.
In a school situation, pupils obey a teacher because of
his/her person mystique.
In schools charismatic leaders are rarely found.
Charismatic leaders tend to arise when social order breaks
down and people feel insecure and are looking for someone
to solve their problems for example in time of economic
depression and political change.

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MODULE 1: SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION

Bureaucratic authority (Rational legal authority)


Bureaucratic can be said to be the type of organization
designed to accomplish large scale administrative tasks by
systematically coordinating the work of many individuals
It involves the rationalization of administration to achieve
the organizational goals. What is rationalization? This is a
process

whereby

superstitions,

thought

emotions,

and

action

tradition

and

motivated

by

respect

for

mysterious forces become replaced by thought and action


grounded in the logical assessment of the most efficient
ways to achieve a valued goal.
Large numbers of workers are organized so that all the
necessary tasks are done well on time. Rationalization
means

the

calculated

use

of

resources

for

the

achievement of a particular set of goals in the most


economic way possible.
Bureaucratic authority is legitimate by law and obedience
is owned not to the individual but to the set of impersonal
principles. For example the head teacher holds the legal
authority in the school. He/she is appointed by the
appointing authority that is legally constituted.
Bureaucratic organizations have a number of characteristics.
According to Weber some of these characteristics are as
follows:
Each office or position (head teacher, deputy head, section
head, and class teacher) has clearly defined duties and
41

MODULE 1: SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION

responsibilities. This way all activities of the organization


are arranged within a clear cut division of labour.
All offices are organized in a hierarchy authority that
takes the shape of a pyramid. Officials like the head
teacher, deputy head teacher, section heads are held
accountable to their superiors for their subordinates
actions and decisions.
All activities are governed by a consistent system of rules
and regulations. These rules and regulations define the
responsibilities of the various offices and the relationships
among them.
All offices carry with them qualifications that are filled on
the

basis

of

technical

competence,

not

personal

consideration. Competence is established by certification.


For

example

college

diploma

or

teaching

service

examinations.
Workers do not own their offices. Positions remain the
property of the organization. Office holders are supplied
with the items they require to perform their work.
Employment by the organization is defined as a career.
Promotion is based on seniority or merit or both. After the
probation period, workers gain the security of tenure and
are protected against dismissal.

42

MODULE 1: SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION

Administrative decisions, rules, procedures and activities


are recorded on written documents, which are preserved in
permanent files.
SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE
How is a school a bureaucracy and give some
characteristics

into

how

it

makes

it

bureaucracy.
What is Rationalization?

SELF ASSESSMENT TEST


1. One of the major contributors to the development
of Sociology of Education was:
A. Herbert Spencer
B. Howard Becker
C. Max Weber
D. Auguste Comte
2. One of the major concerns of the conflict theory
is:
A. The use of education in instilling status
group values
B. The discipline in the classroom
C. The concepts teachers use to describe their
learners
D. The self fulfilling prophecy of the teacher

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MODULE 1: SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION

3. Which of the following concept refers to the


development of social institutions from a simple
stage to a complex stage?
A. Social statics
B. Social dynamics
C. Social differentiation
D. Social change
4. Who among these is known as the second founder
of Sociology?
A. Herbert Spencer
B. Max Weber
C. Auguste Comte
D. Emile Durkheim
5. Aspects of social life external to individuals that
constrain or control behavior of individuals in
society are known as:
A. Macro forces
B. Social indicators
C. Social facts

D. customs

4.0

CONCLUSION
The classical founders of sociology that you have just studied
contributed immensely to the subject of sociology and sociology
of education.

5.0

SUMMARY
This Unit looked at the renounced founding fathers of sociology.
44

MODULE 1: SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION

You learnt that:


Auguste Comte is credited as being the founder of
sociology. He also divided the study of society into social
statics and social dynamics.
Herbert Spencer viewed society as similar to the living
body. He depicted society as a system, a whole made up of
interrelated parts.
Karl Marx brought out ideas that society is divided into
those who own the means of producing wealth and those
who do not. This division gives rise to class conflict.
Emile Durkheim was interested in what holds society
together. He saw mechanical solidarity and organic
solidarity as important to the maintenance of social order
in society.
Max Webers ideas are wide, but we concentrated on the
concepts of power, authority and Bureaucracy.

45

MODULE 1: SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION

UNIT 4 APPROACHES
SOCIOLOGY

TO
AND

THE

STUDY

SOCIOLOGY

OF
OF

EDUCATION
CONTENT

1.0

1.0

Introduction

2.0

Objectives

3.0

Main Content
3.1

Positivism

3.2

Phenomenology

4.0

Conclusion

5.0

Summary

INTRODUCTION
Approaches to the study of sociology and sociology of education
are broad assumptions about human social behaviour and the
society. These approaches provide us with the viewpoint of the
study of human problems. There are two main approaches in
sociology. These are positivism, the traditional scientific
perspective and phenomenology a less scientific approach
because some researchers reject the idea of applying theories.

2.0

OBJECTIVES
By the end of this unit you should be able to:
a. Explain the meaning of positivism and phenomenology

46

MODULE 1: SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION

b. State the relevance of positivism and phenomenology in our


day to day life
MAIN CONTENT
The two perspectives in this unit have a significant role in
helping us to understand and analyze the nature of society.
3.1

Positivism

Positivism is the traditional method of sociology which is


associated with Auguste Comte. Comte has contributed to
knowledge which is based on scientific research.
To understand positivism let us look at what it does.
Uses the scientific method to seek laws of social
behaviour, interaction and organization.
Assumes that reality is external to people and objectives.
For example, mangoes falling off a tree. Even if you do not
believe in gravity, the mangoes will still fall.
Pursues an objective world with precise instruments
We can therefore narrow the understanding of positivism to the
following points:
Positivism is the application of the methods of science to
the understanding of society.
Positivism is the search for invariant laws governing the
natural world as well as the social world.
Positivism is based on the assumption of empiricism.
Empiricism is the view that the five senses are
the only true source of knowledge.
47

MODULE 1: SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION

Empiricism says the right methods are those


which lessen the sources of error and can be
verified scientifically.
The main idea of positivism is that there is an objective world
which is capable of being understood in the scientific and
objective ways. The scientific method is therefore a process for
forming and testing solutions to problems. It is also a way of
theorizing about how and why things work the way they do.
Scientific method tries to reduce bias of the experiment so that
the process is valid anywhere in the world.
Let us say you observe that your cell phone suddenly switches
off. You research and find the following possible reasons for
this occurrence. Click on the reason you think is the best option
this is your hypothesis.
You pressed on the switch off button of the cell phone.
You did not recharge the cell phone battery.
Your cell phone has developed a fault after it dropped on
the floor.
From the example if option second option is correct, you can
repeat and demonstrate that the cell phone battery is the
answer. You can repeat this condition and predict the outcome
(testing your theory).
If not dropping the cell phone is the problem, you can repeat
that also, but it can be expensive.

48

MODULE 1: SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION

Positivism tries to emulate the methods in the example by:


Identification of a problem
Collection of data
Explanation of hypothesis
Methods of testing hypothesis
Analysis of results
Re testing if necessary
Interpreting result report
3.2

Phenomenology
This

perspective

phenomenologist

is

originates
concerned

from
with

Max

Weber.

understanding

The
human

behaviour from the actors point of view. For example you spot a
mound in a distance it looks like a small hill. You ask yourself
what shape it is. How do you know it is a mound and not an
elephant? Would anything convince you that it was not an
elephant? Your friend warns you that it is not a mound but an
elephant. You get closer to the mound and see it move. We take
such experiences for granted. The phenomenological aim is to
stop

taking

experiences for

granted,

even the

simplest

experiences of everyday life.


Therefore the phenomenologist examines how the world is
experienced. For the phenomenologist the important reality is
what people imagine to be. In this perspective less emphasis is
placed on the need to develop objective methods of study and
more on the value of seeing the world through the eyes of those
being studied. Phenomenology stresses the need to understand
the subjective interpretation of actors.

49

MODULE 1: SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION

4.0

CONCLUSION
The two approaches we looked at each focuses on different
aspects of social reality. Both of them have a significant role in
helping you understand the nature of our society.

5.0

SUMMARY
Two points are important in this unit.
Positivists

prefer

structural

explanations

and

avoid

interpretive explanations that bring in human intentions


and emotions.
Phenomenologist study everyday events from within the
life world of the persons experiencing them. The aim is to
determine what an experience means for the person who
has had the experience and are able to provide a detailed
description of it.

50

MODULE 1: SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION

References
Banks, O (1968) The Sociology of Education. BT. Batesford Ltd,
London
Datta, A (1988) Education and Society: with Special Reference to
Africa. London: Macmillan
Ezewu, E (1983) The Sociology of Education. Lagos: Longman
Giddens A (2008) Sociology: Polity press, Malden
Kirby M etal (2000) Sociology in Perspective: AQA Edition. Heinemann,
Oxford
Musgrave, PW (1965) Sociology of Education. Methuen and Co Ltd,
London
Swift, D.F (1969) The Sociology of Education: An introductory Analytic
Perspective. Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd, London
Zanden J.W.V (1988) The Sociology Experience: An Introduction to
Sociology: Random House, New York

51