SOC 748 Education and Social Change

A Sociology of Education from an Indian Perspective

The articles and book extracts below have been provided for students from India and the Global South. Given the distribution of power in academics, it is extremely difficult to obtain these materials in India and virtually impossible outside 2-3 big cities. I have slowly and painfully gathered them over the last 20 years. They are being shared so that the growth of our students can be faster than mine was. In case you are an author of these texts, please permit us to keep them online. This way they will remain available to many who otherwise will have no access to your ideas. However, if you wish to have them brought down, please drop me an email.


The course will centre around some key questions. We will try to find answers to them by reading some selected texts and debating their contents. There is no pre-determined path which we shall follow. We will take whatever trail looks most promising.

Key Questions

Discussion threads

How can education be used to alleviate inequality and poverty?

Gandhi's nai talim
Human capital approach
Social stratification
Parsons and the functionalist approach
Marxist approaches – Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis, Althusser
Dependency theories
Reproduction or change?
Pierre Bourdieu
Weberian approach – Randall Collins
Critical pedagogy

How can education be used to fight prejudice and hatred?

Durkheimian approach
“New” Sociology of Education
Sociology of school knowledge
Cultural Studies & Critical Pedagogy
Themes – nationalism, communalism, gender and race

How can educational institutions be made a friendlier, less alienating place?

The microsociology of schools
Schools as organizations


Macaulay's Minute of 2nd February 1835 and a good commentary on it by M.S. Thirumalai
Krishna Kumar, 2005 2nd ed., Political agenda of education, New Delhi: Sage. Extracts: "Meek dictator: the paradox of the teacher's personality" pp 73-94 and "Colonial citizen as an educational ideal".
Aparna Basu, 1982, Essays in the history of Indian education,  New Delhi: Concept Publishing Company. Chapter 1, “Origins and operations of the Indian education system, 1757-1947”.
ibid. Chapter 4, “Colonial educational policies – a comparative approach”.
Talcott Parsons, 1959, "The school class as a social system: some of its functions in American society", Harvard Educational Review, vol. 29, no. 4, pp 297-318.

Marxist and Dependency Theories
Samuel Bowles, 1977, 1971 (orig.), "Unequal education and the reproduction of the social division of labour", pp 137-153 in Jerome Karabel and A.H. Halsey (ed.) Power and ideology in education, New York: Oxford University Press.
Bowles, Samuel. 1978. “Capitalist Development and Educational Structure.World Development 6:783-796.
Alatas, Syed Farid. 2006. Alternative discourses in Asian social science. Sage Publications. Critical and seeking an improvement of the dependency approach. 
Noah, Harold J., and Max A. Eckstein. 1988. “Dependency Theory in Comparative Education.” Pp. 165-192 in Theories and Methods in Comparative Education, edited by Jauumlrgen Schriewer and Brian Holmes. Frankfurth am Main: Peter Lang. - critical of them while also being dismissive of them.

Cultural Studies and Critical Pedagogy
Antonio Gramsci, 1971, rep. 1987, Selections from the prison notebooks of Antonio Gramsci, New York: International Publishers. Chapter 1 "The Intellectuals", Chapter 2 "On Education".
Paul E. Willis, 1977, Learning to labour, Gower. Extract - "Dossing, Blagging and Wagging: Countercultural groups in the school environment".
Ivan Illich, Deschooling society Chapters 1 and 6.
Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the oppressed, chapters 1 and 2.
Apple, Michael. 2000. Official Knowledge: Democratic education in a conservative age. 2nd ed. London and New York: Routledge, chapter 2 “Cultural Politics and the Text

Microsociology of education: the Symbolic Interactionists and Ethnomethodologists
Gracey, Harry L. 1968. “Learning the student role: Kindergarten as academic boot camp.” Pp. 63-71 in Readings in Introductory Sociology, edited by Dennis Wrong and Harry L. Gracey. New York: Macmillan.
Learning to be backward” in Kumar, Krishna. 1989. Social character of learning. New Delhi: Sage.
Pollard, Andrew. 2004. “Towards a sociology of learning in primary schools.” Pp. 285-291 in Stephen J. Ball (ed.) Routledge Falmer Reader in Sociology of Education. London and New York: Routledge Falmer.

Durkheimian Sociology of Education

Basil Bernstein “Social class and pedagogic practice” pp 196-217 in Stephen J. Ball (ed.) 2004. Routledge Falmer Reader in Sociology of Education and originally pp 63-93 in Basil Bernstein The Structuring of Pedagogic Discourse, Volume IV, Class, Codes and Control, 2003, London: Routledge.
Alan R. Sadovnik, 2001, "Basil Bernstein",
Prospects: the quarterly review of comparative education, vol 31, no 4, pp 687-703.

Weberian Sociology of Education
Margaret Archer, 1991, Culture and agency, Preface.
Randall Collins, 1971, "Functional and conflict theories of educational stratification", American Sociological Review, No. 36, pp 1002-1019.

Pierre Bourdieu, 1983, reprinted 2004, "The forms of capital", pp 15-29 in Stephen J. Ball (ed.) The Routledge Falmer Reader in Sociology of Education, New York: Routledge Falmer.
Bourdieu, Pierre. 1996. The State Nobility: Elite Schools in the Field of Power. Oxford: Polity Press. Extract: “Forms of power and their reproduction”, pp 263-299. (Warning: 20MB file size)
Pierre Bourdieu and Jean-Claude Passeron, 2000, orig. 1970, Reproduction in education, society and culture, 2nd edition, London: Sage. Extract "Cultural capital and pedagogic communication", pp 71-106.
Pierre Bourdieu, 2002, orig. 1990, "Structures, habitus and practices", pp 95 - 110 in The Polity reader in social theory, Cambridge: Polity Press.

Jurgen Habermas, 1972, orig. 1968, Toward a rational society, London: Heinemann. Extract: "The university in a democracy - democratization of the university" pp 1- 12.
Paul R. Terry, 1997, "Habermas and education: knowledge, communication, discourse", Curriculum Studies, Vol 5, no 3, pp 269-279.
Anthony Giddens, 2002, orig. 1984, "Elements of the theory of structuration", pp 79-88 in The Polity reader in social theory, Cambridge: Polity Press.

Gandhi's Nai Talim
Kumar, Krishna. 1993. "Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi". Prospects: the quarterly review of education, vol 23, no 3/4, pp 507-17.
Sykes, Marjorie. 1987. The Story of Nai Talim. Wardha: Sevagram. Hindi translation.
Various writings of Gandhi.
Dasgupta, Ajit K. 1996. Gandhi's Economic Thought. New York: Routledge. (This book is also available through Questia)
Prasad, Devi. 1998. “Education for life and through life: Gandhi's Nayee Talim.” in The Cultural Dimension of Education, edited by Baidyanath Saraswati. New Delhi: IGNCA
Aurobindo - various writings.
Narmadeshwar Jha, 1994, "Rabindranath Tagore", Prospects: the quarterly review of education, vol 24, no 3/4, pp 603-619.
Rabindranath Tagore "The Parrot's Training".
Rabindranath Tagore "My School".

Schools as Organizations
Chapter 5 “The school as an organization” from Ballantine, Jeanne H. 1997. The sociology of education: A systematic analysis. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall. A simple introductory text.
Bidwell, Charles E. 2001. “Analyzing Schools as Organizations: Long-term Permanence and Short-term Change..” Sociology of Education 74:100-114. A sophisticated paper which also gives an overview of the literature on the question.
Chapter 13 “Organizations” in Collins, Randall. 2004. Theoretical Sociology. Jaipur and New Delhi: Rawat Publications. Great overview of how sociologists have looked at organizations. Must read, maybe after some introductory texts have been read. Warning: 18 MB file size.
Chapter 8 “Schools as organizations” in Robinson, Philip. 1981. Perspectives on the sociology of education. New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Though dated, but still a good introductory text.

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