Sociology | Education & Society
S312 | 11903 | Everitt


In both the United States and abroad, education has been the aspect
of society with the highest expectations.  Education has been
considered the remedy to almost any social problem one can imagine,
such as: preparing people for employment, creating good national
citizens, eliminating racial discrimination, alleviating poverty,
instilling good moral character, preventing the spread of disease,
strengthening local communities, minimizing teenage pregnancy,
integrating diverse cultures, adapting to technological change,
developing third-world countries, and the list could continue.
Simultaneously, education has been the aspect of society that has
drawn an enormous amount of criticism, such as: teachers are under-
qualified, standardized testing is horribly biased, schools fail to
teach strong moral values, students are apathetic and often
dangerous, black/white achievement gaps persist, schools fail to
promote cultural diversity, illiterate students are simply promoted
through the grades, getting bachelor’s and graduate degrees does not
guarantee jobs, grade inflation is rampant, and this list could also
continue.  Given that so much is at stake in education, and that
there are so many apparent failures in education, the question must
be asked: Why do we entrust so much to a social institution which we
do not believe delivers on its promises?   We will spend our semester
struggling with this question while seeking answers from sociologists
who have asked it, in various ways, before.  Our chief goal for the
course is to understand how sociology offers a unique perspective on
the problems and promises of education.  Sociologists focus on the
social processes that affect both the means and ends of education.
Therefore, we will pay particular attention to the social processes
and consequences of education for the multitudes of people engaged in
it.  Since our focus is education, I have divided the course into 3
units that I feel capture the most important sociological phenomena
in education in terms that we may all remember from our own schooling:
“Class time” – Functions of Schooling, Status Attainment, and
Schooling Organization
“Recess” – Student Cultures, Social Capital, and Race/Gender in
“Lunch” – School Funding, Cultural Reproduction, and Educational

We will explore these three units in the sociology of education to
increase your understanding of social processes and outcomes of
education.  Through class discussions and writing-intensive exams, we
will also work to improve your overall communication and analytical
skills as students.