With education being accessible to the majority of people in the entire world, a variety of complications are natural to come along. Let us skim through education history to know what these are.

Free state education in Britain began in 1870. By 1918 school attendance was compulsory up to the age of 14, rising to 16 in 1972. Since then, the government had encouraged more people to stay on in post-compulsory education. By 2005 76% of 16–18-year-olds were in full-time education in England and wales. In 2007 it was announced that, from 2013, everybody would have to stay in education or training until the age of 18. In 2002 more than 13.5% of government spending was on education.

Bowles and Gintis-Capitalist Schooling 

Bowels and Gintis (1976) argue that there is a close relationship between social relationships in the world and in education. This correspondence principle is key to understanding the working of the educational system. Work casts a long shadow over the education system: education operates in the interests of those who control the workforce- the capitalist class. 

Willis- Learning to Labor

Willis (1977) accepts the Marxist view that education is closely linked to the needs of capitalism, but he does not believe that there is a simple and direct relationship between education and the economy. Willis used a range of qualitative research methods, including observation and group interviews, to study a group of 12 working-class boys during their last year at school and first months at work. 

The 12 pupils-the lads- formed a friendship group with a particular attitude to school. Willis refers to this as a counter-school culture. The main feature of this culture was the superiority the lads felt to their teachers and other conformist students.

They saw no value in gaining qualifications. Their main objectives were to avoid going to lessons and to do as little work as possible. They entertained themselves by ‘having a laff’. This usually involved misbehavior. The lads found school boring and tried to identify with the adult world by smoking, drinking alcohol, and not wearing school uniforms. The counterculture was strongly sexist and racist. Traditional masculinity was valued and members of ethnic minorities were regarded as inferior. Manual labor was seen as more worthy than pen-pushing.

These pupils did not defer to authority, nor were they obedient or docile. They rejected the belief that hard work would lead to success. Willis’s ‘lads’ have very little in common with the sort of conformist pupils described by Bowles and Gintis.

Youth training schemes

Finn (1987) has strongly attacked the new vocationalism involved in the various youth training schemes. He believes that its real objective was different from those stated: the trainees could be used as a source of cheap labor. The small allowances paid to trainees would depress general wage levels. The scheme would reduce embarrassing unemployment statistics. The government hoped that the scheme would reduce crime by taking up the free time of young people.

Finn believed that there was no truth in the claim that school-leavers were unemployable. Many school pupils had the experience of working part-time jobs. The real problem was simply a lack of jobs.

Functionalist perspective

Functionalists ask two key questions about education: what are the functions for society as a whole? And what are the functional relationship between education and other parts of the social system? 

Functionalists are people who focus on the positive aspect of education and its contribution to society rather than the negatives. Writing at the end of the nineteenth century, Durkheim saw that the major function of education as the transmission of society’s norms and values. He said that the major task for every society is to unite the individuals into a whole; i.e to form social solidarity. Education and the teaching of history, he said, is what forms a bridge between an individual and society. 

The school is like a miniature society where children learn to interact with other people from the same community. They follow a set of rules. And this experience, in turn, prepares the child for interacting with the members of society as an adult and accepting social rules. thus, education helps to teach individuals the skills required for their future occupations.


Durkheim assumes that the norms and values promoted in schools are those of society as a whole rather than those of powerful groups. Most contemporary changes in education appear to be aimed at encouraging individual competition, and training pupils for particular vocations. It could be argued that the sort of education favored by Durkheim is not the best preparation for future working life. Hargreaves believes that most of the British schools out there fail to teach and forward shared values. Unlike Durkheim, other functionalists see competition as a vital aspect of modern societies. 

Market-liberal theory

New Right/Market-liberal perspectives influenced the policies introduced by governments throughout the 1980s and 1990s, The Market-liberal theory is critical of the state provision of services such as education. High government spending on education and other services is undesirable because it requires high taxes. These taxes ultimately come from company profits, and high taxation, Therefore, makes companies less competitive. 

The Market-liberal theory had a strong influence on the educational policies of new right governments under Margaret Thatcher and John Major in Britain of reforms were introduced based on the following key themes: education and economic growth; education should be largely concerned with economic growth rather than creating greater equality. 

Competition, choice, and standard; the best method of raising standards in education was to introduce market forces and encourage competition between educational intuitions. Schools that failed to attract students would lose funding and be forced to improve or close. Testing and examining; parents needed information in order to be able to make informed choices about schools. Increased testing and the publication of results were therefore necessary.