Identity and Ideology: Sociocultural Theories of Schooling

Identity and Ideology: Sociocultural Theories of Schooling

Identity and Ideology: Sociocultural Theories of Schooling

Identity and Ideology: Sociocultural Theories of Schooling


Rothstein maintains that schools in all societies inculcate students with ideological understandings of themselves and their economic systems. Using a Freudo-Marxian approach, he explores the impact of capitalism on schooling in America and Europe and traces the formation of the individual's public and private identities. The book employs sociological, economic, and psychoanalytic perspectives to study the propagation of capitalist culture through education, and examines the way in which educational institutions reproduce the social relations of school and society. Rothstein concludes that education must be liberated from their arbitrary practices and links with the labor market.


This book discusses the relationships between capitalism and schooling, paying special attention to European and American systems. Capitalism, since its birth, has been a development of European nations; in other areas of the world it came later and involved imitation.

In order for capitalism to work, it must bring workers out of their homes and into factories and offices; it must commoditize their labor power. To do this is to make labor a cost of production, subject to the laws of the free market. Labor becomes another commodity that must be brought together and exploited. Inexpensive labor costs are a practical goal for capitalists, who must compete with one another for scarce resources and customers.

From this we can see that the schools that capitalism establishes have a primary interest: the development of an ideology and culture that make it natural for students to accept proletarianization. This method is superior to the use of force because the control that comes to be utilized is a symbolic one. To the degree that students internalize this educational training, the system is able to maintain itself and the property relations that sustain it. Therefore, the good student is one who accepts the ideology of schools and the status quo in economic and social life.

This book seeks to uncover relationships between educational systems and other structures in society. It traces the roles of schooling and the family in establishing the identities of individuals at work and in their private lives. Further, it grapples with the "how-to" of these reproductive agencies by studying the ideological effects and linguistic constructions they use to influence the identity, knowledge, and thought of individuals. Today it is of vital importance that we understand what educational . . .

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