The New Right view on education??Watch
Lots of discipline.
Functionalist/New Right Theorists Davis & Moore (1967)
Davis & Moore argue that education is necessary for society, this is because:
Firstly, education is essential for effective role allocation:
Like Durkheim & Parson’s, Davis and Moore argue education is a means of role allocation, but, they also link the education system more directly with the system of social stratification. Davis & Moore see social stratification as a mechanism for ensuring that the most talented and able members of society are allocated those positions that are functionally important for society (i.e. the positions that require specialist knowledge, skills & expertise that very few people are able to possess and yet most other jobs in society are dependent upon these ones being performed well). High rewards, which act as incentives are attached to these particular positions. In theory, this means that all will compete for the top positions of society and the most talented will win through.
Secondly, education sifts, sorts and grades individuals in terms of their talents and abilities:
The education system is an important part of this process because it sifts, sorts and grades individuals in terms of their talents and abilities. Education rewards the most talented with high qualifications, which in turn provides entry to those occupations that are functionally most important to society.
Education is runs on meritocratic principles:
Davis and Moore argue that stratification and inequality are normal, natural and even desirable in capitalist societies because there is only a limited amount of talent. These talented few need to be persuaded to make a sacrifice (by staying on in education and undergoing extensive training) and society therefore offers incentives through the promise of greater rewards, such as higher salaries. Therefore, inequality is both inevitable and necessary; it is a consequence of the scarce distribution of talent in society.
Functionalist/New Right Theorist Saunders (1990)
Saunders argues that education is necessary for society, this is because:
Firstly, societies which reward different positions unequally can be shown to have beneficial effects
Saunders argues in the absence of economic rewards & penalties, the only sanctions available would be those involving threat or use of physical force. Therefore, societies which reward different positions unequally can be shown to have beneficial effects, such as motivating people to work hard.
Secondly, education is ran on meritocratic principles
In other words, education provides every individual with an equal chance to succeed. Individuals compete with one another and those with greater achievement receive more merit compared to others. Individuals are merited because of their ability to work hard and for possessing attributes and characteristics which are valued in society. Therefore, Saunders argues that inequality is justified because is promotes economic growth as people who are not happy with their achievement simply work harder in order to gain the reward they know is there if they apply more effort.
Finally, Saunders argues that in society we have an unequal distribution of ability and effort.
In other words, the children of middle class parents may deserve to be more successful than those from the working class because they tend to have greater genetically inherited ability and because they work harder. Therefore, it may be no surprise that middle class children end up in higher paid jobs compared to working class children as this outcome is purely a result of the merit they have gained from working hard.
New Right Theorist Buchanan and Tullock (1962)
Buchanan & Tullock’s Public Choice Theory argues that services provided by state bureaucracies like education tend to be ineffective and inefficient.
This is because producers (schools) rather than consumers (parents) tend to dominate decision making. Buchanan & Tullock argue that public services often act as a monopoly because consumers cannot freely choose an alternative provider of education. Furthermore, because they are publically funded, the providers cannot go out of business. They therefore have little incentive to respond to the needs of consumers. Instead, it is the needs of the producers which tend to dominate decision making i.e. ‘producer capture’ takes place. For example, education comes to reflect the interests of the teachers and bureaucrats who run the system, rather than the consumers- the pupils and parents- whom the system is intended to benefit.
Secondly, teachers & other employees in the educational bureaucracies act in their own interests
Buchanan & Tullock argue that groups such as teachers & other employees in the educational bureaucracies have an interest in increasing expenditure on education, to make their jobs more secure and to improve promotional prospects. Through pressure groups like trade unions, they can persuade governments to follow the policies they favour through the promise of political support. For example, governments might agree to increase expenditure on education in the belief that this will win them votes from teachers and local authority workers.
Finally, too much state expenditure on education damages the economy
According to public choice theory, everyone acts in their own interests. Politicians want votes, teachers & bureaucrats want secure jobs and it is their interests which become dominant in conventional state education systems. As a result, state expenditure on education increases, which results in rising taxes. This in turn damages the economy. Businesses end up being over taxed and unable to compete with businesses in other countries. At the same time pupils and parents have little control over education. They have to accept the state education that is on offer and they have little chance to change or shape it. However, New Right thinkers believe that if competition and market systems are introduced into education all of these problems can be remedied.
New Right Theorist Chubb & Moe (1988)
In their article ‘Politics, Markets & the Organisation of Schools’ Chubb & Moe put forward their case for the introduction of market forces in education, they argued that:
Firstly, state education was unresponsive to the needs of pupils and parents and tended to have low standards
In fact, Chubb & Moe argue that state education was not supposed to be responsive to the needs of those who used the services of the school. State education intended to serve the wider public purposes as determined by politicians. If parents were not happy with the state school they sent their child to, there was only two ways of getting their children into a ‘better’ school. One was to pay for private schooling, but many parents were not willing to do this or couldn’t afford it. The other was to move house to an area with a school that parents preferred.
Secondly, state schools themselves had little freedom & autonomy
This is because state schools were accountable to a large group of constituents. These constituents reinforced their own interests in these schools and sometimes these self interests conflicted with the interests and wishes of parents and pupils. Furthermore, the government bureaucrats who ran the education system also had incentives to expand their budgets, programmes & administrative controls. These vested interests tended to undermine the autonomy of schools, restricting their ability to respond to the needs and wishes of parents. In comparison, private education had to please its customers (parents and pupils) in order to survive; therefore, standards were high and there was constant pressure to improve them further.
Therefore, Chubb & Moe argue power must be decentralised to the producers & immediate customers of educational services
This would encourage schools to get on with providing the sort of education their customers needed. Chubb & Moe argued that private & state schools should be encouraged to compete with one another in an open market for children to attend their schools. This would encourage successful schools to grow, while unsuccessful schools would need to improve to survive. Therefore, all schools would become more flexible & responsive and this would raise standards in the education system.