Introduction to Theoretical Perspectives on Education

What you’ll learn to do: examine the major theoretical perspectives on education

This photo is taken from the perspective of someone at the front of the lecture hall. In the foreground there are rows of wooden lecture hall chairs.

While it is clear that education plays an integral role in individuals’ lives as well as society as a whole, sociologists view that role from many diverse points of view. Functionalists believe that education equips people to perform different functionally necessary roles in society. Conflict theorists view education as a means of widening the gap in social inequality through class reproduction and power imbalances. Feminist theorists point to evidence that sexism in education continues to prevent women from achieving a full measure of social equality. Symbolic interactionists study the dynamics of the classroom, the interactions between students and teachers, and how those negotiated meanings affect everyday life. In this section, you will learn about each of these perspectives.

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