The subject of social classes has been addressed numerous times by different sociologists who include Karl Marx (1818-1883), Emile Durkheim (1858-1917), Talcott Parsons (1902-1979), and Jean Anyon. The sociologists have expounded on the aspect of social classes more so with regards to how the different classes behave, how the different social classes are created, what leads to the continued maintenance of status quo or shifting from one class to another(Garner & Hancock, 2014). In their analysis, the sociologists expounded on matters of class, the issue of hegemony, the role of education in as far as social classes are concerned and so forth. For purposes of this essay, the issues of hegemony and education will dominate, while relying heavily on Jean Anyon, Emile Durkheim, and Talcott Parson's work.
While introducing the topic of hegemony in the different social classes, Anyon quotes the works of Antonio Gramsci, who noted that not unless people have an understanding of how they can dominate in the society, then they will never be leaders or rulers. By supporting this claim, he recorded how the issue of class and hegemony used to play in the early days in Europe where different classes existed (Garner & Hancock, 2014). During the period, there were different classes, peasant farmers who constituted the largest group, the business group and lastly the leadership group who were considered to be the hegemonic group.
The other two classes, farmers, and business group, were dominated by the leadership group despite the fact that they were not representing their interest. According to Anyon, any person or group cannot lead unless they realize their ability to lead or dominate others; just like the peasant farmers, in this case, they were many, but the ruling class made policies and laws for them despite not knowing or even sharing their experiences (Anyon, 2011). However, the current societies which are predominantly democratic or partially democratic have experienced a paradigm shift where one class such as kings or ruling class used to dominate to the current state where the majority rules. Anyon notes that even though in the past the creation of different social classes was as a result of the societal system then, where different groups, perhaps through societal system and constructs engaged in different activities which automatically placed them in their classes. Anyon further alludes that, the schools are social centers where social systems across the world pass values from generation to generation.
The difference as to regards to what brings about hegemony lies with the orientation of different groups in classrooms (Anyon, 2011). For instance, those who are in the upper-class pass have sent their children to top ivy schools while those who belong to the lower class send their children to lower classes which are within ghettos or low-income homesteads. The difference in schools, though the system of education is standardized, creates a difference in as far as hegemony is concerned. Anyon notes that the top class will automatically dominate because they are structured to be at the top but those at the lower classes will likely to allow and accept hegemony because they are schooled to be at the bottom (Parsons, 2008). Durkheim notes that societies are continuously evolving, the changes that occur in the society over time are gradual, persistent and they will result in a new normal in the future.
The fact that society is like a system that keeps undergoing changes in a bid to attain better management established a position that is considered to the position taken by both Anyon and Parsons. He further notes that the society which is perhaps considered to be a system shapes the human world in the sense that it condemns if something is undesirable or un-society (Parsons, 2008). The changes that take place in the society over the years are products of corporatism and proletarians as well as other forces that impose slow but gradual changes in the social norms over the years. The societies that exist around the world have the different set of systems that inform the behavior of the people, just like in a classroom setting, when a teacher is considered to be strict student's behavior tends to reflect that of the teacher, i.e., they respond by following rules.
Durkheim used the different behaviors of people across the world as a reflection of the system that they live under (Garner & Hancock, 2014). He gave an example the US being a country that has the highest rates of homicide to be as a result of the system which might be in a way encouraging the behavior. In the subject of education with regards to the impact it has on the society, Talcott Parsons identifies the modern education as the center of socialization in todays world. He notes that while the changes in the social system in the past came about as a result of social interactions through social spaces, the modern socialization takes place in the classroom thus hegemony is nurtured right when a person is in a classroom.
Parsons' use of a classroom as a center of the social system is because it is considered an important unit in the social system thus touching or affecting every component of the society (Garner & Hancock, 2014). A classroom is a unit which carries different behaviors, characters, ideas, skills, and intelligence. Though when one trickles down to the aspects within a classroom, one will come to individual thus concluding that an individual is the genesis of social change although the change is subject to be shaped by societal issues, ideals, values, as well as other peoples behaviors or views(Garner & Hancock, 2014). The speed at which societal changes take place in the modern world is high due to the technological sophistication in the present dispensation thus resulting in speeded forms of new normal across the world. However, behavioral change and regional perception about the changes differ based on the values system that different societies are exposed to.
In summary, the aspect of education or learning systems across the world are the centers of social norms that are in existence throughout the world. Societies just like systems, keep on changing from time to time and they are different, slight or huge, from society to society thus informing the peoples behavior and general way of life. The continued evolution of the worlds societal system is expected to result in a standardized system where one system will apply to almost every individual throughout the world. The issue of dominance in the current societies is brought about by different factors within the social classes with the major one being education.
Anyon, J., (2011). Marx and Education. New York, NY 00071. Routledge Press.
Garner, R., & Hancock, B. H. (2014). Social theory: Continuity and confrontation: a reader. New York, Ontario, Canada: University of Toronto Press.
Parsons, T., (2008). The school class as a social system. Pine Forge Press.
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