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Sociology of education

The sociology of education is the study of how public institutions and individual
experiences affect education and its outcomes. It is most concerned with the public
schooling systems of modern industrial societies, including the expansion of higher,
further, adult, and continuing education.
Education has often been seen as a fundamentally optimistic human endeavor
characterized by aspirations for progress and betterment. It is understood by many to
be a means of overcoming handicaps, achieving greater equality, and acquiring wealth
and social status. Education is perceived as a place where children can develop
according to their unique needs and potential. It is also perceived as one of the best
means of achieving greater social equality. Many would say that the purpose of
education should be to develop every individual to their full potential, and give them a
chance to achieve as much in life as their natural abilities allow (meritocracy). Few
would argue that any education system accomplishes this goal perfectly. Some take a
particularly negative view, arguing that the education system is designed with the
intention of causing the social reproduction of inequality.

Socialization
Social health means the same as social order, and is guaranteed when nearly
everyone accepts the general moral values of their society. Hence structural
functionalists believe the aim of key institutions, such as education, is to socialize
children and teenagers. Socialization is the process by which the new generation learns
the knowledge, attitudes and values that they will need as productive citizens. Although
this aim is stated in the formal curriculum, it is mainly achieved through the hidden
curriculum, a subtler, but nonetheless powerful, indoctrination of the norms and values
of the wider society. Students learn these values because their behavior at school is
regulated (Durkheim in) until they gradually internalize and accept them.

Sociological theory vs. social theory
Kenneth Allan proposed the distinction between sociological theory and social
theory. In Allan's usage, sociological theory consists of abstract and testable
propositions about society. It often heavily relies on the scientific method, which aims for
objectivity, and attempts to avoid passing value judgments. In contrast, social theory,
according to Allan, focuses on commentary and critique of modern society rather than
explanation. Social theory is often closer to Continental philosophy, less concerned with
objectivity and derivation of testable propositions, and more likely to pass normative
judgments. Sociological theory is generally created only by sociologists, while social
theory can frequently come from other disciplines.

Traditional / classical theories
Social conflict is the struggle between segments of society over valued resources
Due to social conflict; it turned a small population into capitalists in the nineteenth
century. Capitalists are people who own and operate factories and other businesses in
pursuit of profits. However, capitalism turned most people into industrial workers, whom
Marx called proletarians. Proletarians are people who sell their labor for wages. Conflict
theories draw attention to power differentials, such as class, gender and race conflict,
and contrast historically dominant ideologies. It is therefore a macro level analysis of
society that sees society as an arena of inequality that generates conflict and social
change. Karl Marx is the father of the social conflict theory, which is a component of the
four major paradigms of sociology.
Structural functionalism or Functionalism is a framework for building theory
that sees society as a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity
and stability. This approach looks at society through a macro-level orientation, which is
a broad focus on the social structures that shapes society as a whole. This approach
looks at both social structure and social functions.

Socialization is the means by which human infants begin to acquire the skills
necessary to perform as a functional member of their society, and are among the most
influential learning processes one can experience. Sociologists use the term
socialization to refer to the lifelong social experience by which people develop their
human potential and learn culture. Unlike other living species, humans need
socialization within their cultures for survival.
Interpretive sociology is a theoretical perspective based on the work of Max
Weber, proposes that social, economic and historical research can never be fully
empirical or descriptive as one must always approach it with a conceptual apparatus.
Phenomenological sociology is an approach within the field of sociology that
aims to reveal what role human awareness plays in the production of social action,
social situations and social worlds. In essence, phenomenology is the belief that society
is a human construction.
Social constructionism is a sociological theory of knowledge that considers
how social phenomena develop in particular social contexts.

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sociological_theory