Sociology | Education & Society
S312 | 4074 | Garnier


Education consumes a large portion of the gross domestic
product (6.7% in the U.S. in 1995 all types of education ; 7% in
Canada), it socializes young people,  trains future employees in
many different skills. In addition,  higher education institutions
are responsible for a significant porition of all scientific
It is therefore not surprising that, in all countries,
education is the focus of much attention, usually to deplore some
trend : decreasing SAT scores in the US, inequality of access on the
basis of gender, social class, or ethnic membership, etc.
The goal of this course is to provide an understanding of how
education and society interrelate, i.e. how education is affected by
cultural, economic and political forces and how, in turn, education
affects society.
The course focuses on American education, but we will discuss
the educational systems of other countries. Such a comparative
perspective makes it possible to see more clearly how social forces
In order to understand what forces shape American educational
institutions, we will first examine the problem of performance.
Then, we will turn our attention to several factors that may affect
that performance. Then, we will consider some of the intended and
unintended outcomes, in particular the claims made about the
contribution education makes to economic growth. Lastly, we will
examine some of the reforms that have been proposed.