Sociology of Education Lecture Notes

Sociology of Education

Any individual can learn very little by himself. Others play a very important role and contribute a lot to his learning process. The presence of other persons is important because a person learns from the knowledge gained by others. Therefore the process of getting education is always a social process. The word Sociology is derived from the combination of the Latin socius meaning ‘companion’ and the Greek logos - meaning ‘the study of’.

So the word literally means the study of companionship, or social relations. It is the science or study of the origin, development, organization, and functioning of human society. It is the science of fundamental laws of social behavior, relations, institutions, etc.

Meaning of Sociology

Sociology as a field of discipline is generic and umbrella in nature as it deals with the totality of human interaction and examination. It is a systematic study of social behaviours and human groups. It delves primarily into the influence of social relationships on people’s attitudes and behaviours and on how societies are established and changed. To a lay man, sociology is the study of man’s interaction within the society but it extends beyond that as it deals with the organization and control of man’s behaviours and attitudes within the society.

Sociology is concerned about social facts in the economy, education, legal, security, politics, medical, religion, family, technology, sports and so on. Within the province of these sub-systems both the structural aspects of human society and every type of social relationship are being examined.

Functions of Sociology

Sociology performs several roles within the society as an indispensable impetus to enhance its continuity and stability.

1. It assists in the analysis and clarification of different types of relationships within the society which produce such social. The word Education comes from the Latin educere meaning “to lead out.” Webster defines education as the process of educating or teaching. Thus, from these definitions, one can assume that the purpose of education is to develop the knowledge, skill, or character of students.

“The aim of education should be to teach us rather how to think, than what to think - rather to improve our minds, so as to enable us to think for ourselves, than to load the memory with the thoughts of other men.”


2. Sociology exposes members of the society to how authority and power are derived within the society and why certain values, customs, beliefs and practices are up-held. All human beings are fundamentally the same when it comes to taste of power or occupation of privileged positions.

3. Sociology also attempts to establish the links between the different sub-systems in the society. It studies the relationship, between the political system and the economic system or the relationship between the educational system and the political system or the relationship between the legal system and religious system and so forth.

4. Sociology intimates individuals with the changes within the society and the effects of such changes on human existence. Through sociology, it is revealed that the society is dynamic and transitory in nature.

5. Sociology examines human background and various forms of orientation within the society. Within the societal setting there are diversifications of cultural background and upbringing.

6. Sociology also operates within the realm of human needs. In the society, there are basic social needs which individuals aspire to achieve for meaningful existence and purposeful survival. Sociology sets it upon itself to identify various human needs in the society and explains how those needs are met and satisfied.

Meaning of Sociology of Education

Sociology of Education may be defined as the scientific analysis of the social processes and social patterns involved in the educational system. Brookover and Gottlieb consider that “this assumes education is a combination of social acts and that sociology is an analysis of human interaction.” Educational process goes on in a formal as well as in informal situations. Sociological analysis of the human interaction in education may include both situations and might lead to the development of scientific generalizations of human relations in the educational system.

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. It is a philosophical as well as a sociological concept, denoting ideologies, curricula, and pedagogical techniques of the inculcation and management of knowledge and the social reproduction of personalities and cultures. It is concerned with the relationships, activities and reactions of the teachers and students in the classroom. It emphasizes sociological problems in the realm of education.

Scope of Sociology of Education

The scope of sociology of education is vast.

• It is concerned with such general concepts such as society itself, culture, community, class, environment, socialization, internalization, accommodation, assimilation, cultural lag, subculture, status, role and so forth.

• It is further involved in cases of education and social class, state, social force, cultural change, various problems of role structure, role analysis in relation to the total social system and the micro society of the school such as authority, selection, and the organization of learning, streaming, curriculum and so forth.

• It deals with analysis of educational situations in various geographical and ethnological contexts. E.g. Educational situations in rural, urban and tribal areas, in different parts of the country/world, with the background of different races, cultures etc.

• It helps us to understand the effectiveness of different educational methods in teaching students with different kinds of intelligences.

• It studies the effect of economy upon the type of education provided to the students. Eg. education provided in IB, ICSE, SSC, Municipal schools.

• It helps us to understand the effect of various social agencies like family, school on the students.

• It studies the relationship between social class, culture, language, parental education, occupation and the achievement of the students.

• It studies the role and structure of school, peer group on the personality of the students.

• It provides an understanding of the problems such as racism, communalism, gender discrimination etc.

• It studies the role of schools in socialization of the students.

• It suggests ways to develop national integration, international understanding, the spirit of scientific temper, globalization among the students.

• It promotes research studies related to planning, organization and application of various theories in education.  All these are the concerns of education and sociology as inseparable discipline focusing on the problems of the society.

Concept of Socialization

Socialization as a social process has been defined by various authorities in the field of sociology. Socialization can be described as the process of adaptation by the individuals to the conventional patterns of behaviour. It thus occurs on account of the individual’s interaction with others and the expression of the culture which operates through them. Ross defined socialization as the development of “we - feeling” in the ways and manners individuals behave in the society.

Bogardu has viewed socialization as the process whereby persons learn to behave dependably together on behalf of human welfare and by so doing experience social self control, social responsibility and balanced personality. Farayola sees socialization as the business of adjusting people to the way of life of the community, usually by way of initiation into its customs, beliefs, rituals conventions, expectation and demands combined with instructions and the setting of examples.

Having gone through the ideas of various experts on the meaning of socialization, an attempt can be made to further justify the meaning of socialization as the process by which the individuals learn to behave according to the social traditions and conventionality of their environment. The human child has a remarkable capacity to imitate others to develop according to the tenets of environment. Being a social animal, he/she tries to win the appreciation of the group in which he/she lives and hence, he/she naturally tries to imitate the culture of the group.

It is through socialization that he is transformed from the animals into the human, and it is socialization which gives him/her a balanced personality. The social aspect of the personality is no less important than the individual aspect. Socialization teaches him/her to retain control over himself/herself in the interest of others.

Early Socialization

The patterns of behaviours that a society has to pass on to its new recruits are referred to as its cultures. In a primitive society, the transmission of the culture was major part of education. It majorly focused on how the children are given what we call primary education in the family without ever entering a school. At the age of five or six children start to go to school, the family has already a great deal of educational care and nurture. Much of the culture has by this age been transmitted.

Also during the next few years when the majority of children are very malleable the school works alongside the family to have very potent influence on the child. The schools have come to consider that they have a pastoral care for their pupils for good moral upbringing to compliment the role of the family. But the values that the school tries to inculcate may be at odds with those that the family attempts to teach the child. For example, stealing may be taught very wrong by the teacher, but no one may prevent a country child from taking apples or mangoes from an orchard or a city child from taking fruit from a lorry moving through his playgrounds or streets.

The children could learn all the roles that they had to play from the education that they receive as they socialized within the school and the extended family because what they need to learn can not all be taught with the nuclear family. This is because a nuclear family belongs to one social class and mainly meets members of the same class or almost the same social class. The exposure will be narrow and limited to the miniature environment. The early socialization of the child ought to embrace the nuclear family, extended family and the school for wider coverage of relevant items to be learnt.

Agents of Socialization

The survival of any society depends solidly on the sufficient degree of homogeneity amongst its members. Socialization perpetuates and reinforces this homogeneity by fixing in the child from the beginning the essential similarities that collective life demands. These essential life ingredients are transmitted through the family, school, mosque/church, peer group, market, mass media and so forth.

1. The Family

The family is one of the many small face-to-face groups that are called primary groups saddled with the responsibility of giving the offspring a qualitative and decent pattern of living. The family is expected to satisfy “sex needs” (reproduction), economic needs –  feeding, clothing, shelter, medical provision, and so on. It is also expected to transmit the cultural values and norms to the young generation in order to be fully integrated into the society. The family is indeed the foundation of socialization because that is the first contact of the child.

The inculcation of basic social values, desirable character traits and norms are learnt first in the family. The home assists in laying the foundation for personality and character development of a child. The success or failure of an individual depends on the type of social take-off acquired in the family setting. The child is trained in language, positive character traits, fundamental intellectual knowledge, vocational skills and so on, through the initiation by the adult members of the family like father, mother and other siblings at home. These people are expected to be role models worthy of emulation in all ramifications as the younger generation look up to them as examples for moral standard. Friend and other psycho-analysts believe that the impressions made upon the child’s mind at home determine the child’s personality.

This is because the child’s mind is very flexible and susceptible to any influence. The parents love for the child makes a deep impression on him. The cordial relationship between both parents has significant influence on the personality development of the child. Parent need to ensure that they display high level of moral maturity in relating with each other to serve as shinning examples to their off spring.

2. The School

The school is another important agent of socialization. After the home, the child is exposed to the school which also influences him. It socializes the child, gives him the opportunity to manifest his qualities, potentialities, capabilities, instincts, drives and motives and helps to develop his personality. For the child, the teacher’s personality and character provide a mode which he strives to copy, thereby consciously molding his personality. This is true only of those teachers who succeed in arousing in the child’s mind an attachment and love of themselves. Every little action, every movement, speech made by the teacher impresses itself on the child’s mind.

Apart from the teacher, the child is also influenced by his school mates or groups. These mates or groups play a significant role in determining the status and role the child will occupy in the society later in life. During the process of education, the child’s personality develops under the impact of the other personalities with whom he comes in contact. In the school, the child is discipline; he is aware that disobedience brings immediate punishment but too strict a system of discipline restricts child’s mental growth and may even drive him into criminal activity.

On the other hand, complete absence of control may either make him liberal, free and independent or impulsive. Besides, the cultural programmes of the school also help to refine his attitudes. The school is also expected to transmit knowledge and skills into the learners to be able to face life challenges and for sustenance.

3. The Peer Group

The peer group is the child’s own friends and equals with similar drives, motives and interests. The social world of the child has its own mode of interaction, its own values and acceptable forms of behaviour, many of which adults cannot understand. It is a world in which the child has equal and at times superior status to others. Peer groups take shape early in the child’s life. In the earlier years, these peer groups are relatively informal and transitory, adapted quickly to changing circumstances in the child’s situation. Examples of peer groups are play groups (siblings, neighbours children, school-mates) the cliques and age mates. In later years, however they become more formally organized groups like clubs, societies, fighting gangs, character-building agencies like Boys Scouts, Girls Guides and so on. In short, peer groups are social groups that influence the behaviour of their members. Traditionally, brothers, sisters and people in the community are sources of an informal education of the child. But there is little or no evidence in

Africa of the effects they have upon a child’s attainment of formal education and educational success. Peer groups can have either negative or positive impact on a child’s life. A child has to exercise care in the choice of the peer groups to belong.  

4. Religious Houses

Religion might be described as a reflection of man’s attempts to explain those aspects of his environment which he cannot understand. Except in terms of the super – natural – what is the purpose of life? What happens to people when they die? In our society as in many others people’s religious beliefs are founded on the idea that God is the supernatural power responsible for the creation of life.

They believe that God had a purpose when He created the world and that this purpose has been explained by the prophets who came into the world to tell people how they should behave in order that God’s purpose might be achieved. For this reason, religious beliefs give rise to certain types of behaviour. Religion is therefore a whole way of life and not just something that believer can take up or put down as the fancy takes them.

People who share the same religious beliefs will also hold the same attitudes and opinions, and will behave in the same way. Thus, religious institutions help in the socialization process of its members. The religious leaders like Pastors or Mallams are expected to demonstrate a high level of morality to serve as role models to their followers. It is also worthwhile to preach the authentic facts in their written liturgies and not the manipulations to suit their personal interest and desires.

5. Mass Media

The mass media as an agent of socialization have their own technical characteristics. There are two major types namely “Print and Electronic. The print is in the group of newspapers, magazines, periodicals, texts, bill boards and so on. While the electronics are the Radio, Television, video, projectors and so forth. These form avenues for socialization. Media are clearly in competition with one another for a restricted period of leisure time though there is one exception to this generalization. Because the radio has the specific characteristic that can be used as a background to other activities; the specialist provision of music apt for this purpose has been developed as a major function.

The different media largely because of technical characteristics are used in different ways by children and hence different types of messages are passed through mass media. Children need to be guided in the usage of their leisure hours in the patronage and utilization of mass media to discourage cultivation and learning of negative ideas.

In Conclusion

The sociological examination of education has a long tradition at Teachers College, a graduate school with a strong commitment to social justice.


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