Good Term Paper About Social Inequality In The System Of Education

Type of paper: Term Paper

Topic: Education, Sociology, Students, Family, Inequality, Social Issues, People, Knowledge

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2020/10/06


Today the role of education is clearly defined and consists in the following: acquisition of knowledge and education promotes social mobility. In modern society, education is an indicator of social status, which depends on the prestige of the university, in which university a person studies (or from which university he/she graduated), a chosen specialty (promising or not) and learning performance, which was achieved by hard work. But according to recent empirical research social status is precisely something that causes social inequality in the educational system, which greatly limits the rights of some people and some people making opportunities prevailing over the rights of others. As Tsui (2003) stated “The higher education system engages in the transmission of social inequality by availing opportunities to succeed in adult life for some while constraining opportunities for others.
In many countries, the relationship between the origin and opportunities in the education system matured over time and became more negative, because origin (whether the family has an average income or it is more prosperous) affects the chances to get a good education, become a highly qualified professional and subsequently get a high status in society. Iannelli’s (2005) study found the following: Nowadays people from middle class families are still significantly more likely to gain an upper-secondary qualification or a degree than people from working class families. (p. 2) Moreover, social inequality that arises on the basis of the difference between social classes can occur at school and continue to exist at the university. Having a higher education distinguishes the further higher status for a person and results in a clear advantage over the others at the current job market. Educational institutions such as schools or universities and selection in order to enter them as well as different certification processes may play a significant role in reducing or maintaining social inequality because a factor of social class, parental status may be available for admission to educational institutions. According to recent reports education is the most important factor that arises between individuals and social origin further class destination. As a result, it can aggravate social inequality and lower levels of human social mobility.


In order to provide valid and reliable data there can be used not only qualitative methods that usually tend to be more appropriate in the early stages of research and for theory building. In this case quantitative methods seem to be more appropriate. The selection of an appropriate research method is a key to successful research and that is why it should be driven by the research questions that should be studied. Taking such questions as ‘Why does the students’ level of education directly depend on their socio-economic status or their parents?’ and ‘Does distinguishing students allow them to improve their level of education?’ it is possible to develop a research design itself. There can be used several approaches though each of them is rather relevant in analyzing social inequality in the educational system as because of a high number of variables that should be measured it is difficult to control them. Moreover, it is hard to control the variable statistically as there are significant differences between the students’ initial knowledge and skills. There can be used a qualitative approach that can also involve focus group discussions. But in order to provide some qualitative generalizing data there can be used a more expensive method of a large survey with in-depth interviews. Thereby empirical studies allow to receive valid data for further research.


According to statistics the level of education that people have has grown over time. But there also increased the number of people whose social class does not allow them to reach the desired level of education in order to work on a prestigious job by specialty and be competitive at the job market. This is caused by social inequality, which has its roots at school, when it comes to getting the first basic knowledge, without of which it is impossible to continue further education. Connor and Dewson (2001) stated that: The element of ‘choice’ involved in decisions to progress on to higher education means that a range of factors, both positive and negative, can be influential, and over a number of years prior to entry. (p.12) Then there follows such a question whether education can be considered as a certain intermediary of the relationship between the inherent social class and the current position that the person occupies in society. Education is the midpoint between human origin and destination, i.e. the final implementation of the capacity and skills. Thus, it has a significant impact on the process of achieving better social standing, and building of a personal way during which there can be opened up new prospects.
So it becomes clear that the knowledge gained during studying at high school and person’s origin – is only a part of what gives the person benefits and approval when holding this or that position. But even with the high achievement at school, the person’s origin has more "demand" and much taken into account when applying for a job. At present time, education and new knowledge are highly valued, but if it is supplemented with the fact that a person grew up in a wealthy family, the interest in the employer increases twice as high social class also means good manners, an ability to provide further internships and other factors caused by stereotypes.
Over time, there was an increase in the proportion of people who come from all social classes who have attained the highest degree of educational qualifications (receiving secondary and higher education). However, scientists who studied the changes between social class and education Iannelli and Paterson (2005) concluded that “class differences have not changed significantly over time” (p.3). Nowadays people from families of an average income are much more successfully graduating than people of working families. This gap, called "social inequality" has not changed, and on contrary rooted in society.
Even at school social inequality is evident, because schools management complicates the requirements for children from working class families in order they could succeed and get high scores on items to meet the expectations. Thus, it is emphasized that such strict requirements are only for those who have a low socio-economic status. Only general improvement in living conditions, equalization of the rights of all students can help to destroy the distribution of children by class and those individuals who come from working class wouldn’t feel disadvantaged in relation to others.
There also exists a burden for the destruction of the social inequality which consists in certain expectations of middle-class children, based on stereotypes that they have more opportunities and knowledge to succeed at studying. Such stereotypical expectations were fixed long ago and it is believed that the children of the middle class can fully take on the costs of higher education, they have a greater incentive to continue their education while avoiding the risk of downward mobility (as opposed to working class children) and they are expected to top rankings and learning outcomes which will help to achieve success and increase credibility among classmates and teachers. Also it is usually said concerning them that "benefits outweigh the costs", that is why these children have to study in the best teachers and receive opportunities to continue their education.
As a result of social inequality there appeared another term as "streaming" that includes the distribution of students in certain categories or groups based on their abilities or achievements. Research has shown that if the student began his/her studies in the weak group, they will remain there, unable to move to another one. Such division into groups is not only a school innovation; this practice also exists in higher education. On the first day at the university each student has to write a test language based on which students should be divided into groups according to their knowledge.
The disadvantage of this distribution is that in case of getting the "worst" in the student group it is impossible to improve your skills, communicating with teachers who have a higher level of knowledge. Such division into categories may cause social inequalities as well.


Education has always existed in order to promote an upward mobility. However, "social fluidity" is not increased, i.e. studying and education system have not reduced the gap between social classes in order to obtain knowledge of the highest level. This is because the highest social classes continue to maintain the advantage of receiving the highest quality education. Social inequalities have also contributed to racial and ethnic segregation (which became more common in America than in Europe), which take place in schools today. Such concepts as "segregated school" can be used in case when schools or universities have more than half of the students who are members of different minority groups.
Recent large-scale surveys show that ethnic, socioeconomic and racial differences are significant even when visiting a kindergarten. With the expansion of higher education it became possible to expand access to education groups that are inappropriately represented. Thus, this helped to educate people of various ethnic minorities who can benefit from the provided knowledge and capabilities. Despite the fact that some improvements were seen for gender and ethnic minorities in education, there still exists a considerable underestimation of people from the lower strata of society. Teachers often expect higher results from the children of higher status or class origin, regardless of their mental faculties. Their target is to teach these students, providing them with a personal approach. Only relationships with children on an equal footing, attempts not to prevail ones over another can help to eradicate the social inequalities related to social class and origin.


Below, S.v., Powell, J.W., Roberts, L.W. (2013). Educational Systems and Rising Inequality.
Sociology of Education, 86(4), 362-375.
Mills, C., Gale, T. (2010). Coming to Terms with Social Inequalities in Education. Schooling
in Disadvantaged Communities, 13-27. London: Springer.
Iannelli, C., Paterson, L. (2005). Does Education Promote Social Mobility? Centre for
Educational Sociology, 35.
Hout, M. (2004). How inequality might affect intergenerational mobility. Social Inequality,
969-987. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.
Tsui L. (2003). Reproducing Social Inequalities through Higher Education: Critical Thinking
as Valued Capital. The Journal of Negro Education, 73 (3), 318-332.
Connor, H., Dewson, S., Tyers, C. (2001). Social Class and Higher Education: Issues
Affecting Decisions on Participation by Lower Social Class Groups. Institute for
Employment Studies, 267, 1-4.

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