chapter  11
Pages 5

It is difficult at the beginning of the 1980s to talk optimistically about change. The end of economic expansion and of the widespread search for suitable accompanying strategies for educational and social change produced in the 1970s an increasing climate of disappointment and uncertainty. The climate was one, by the end of the 1970s, in which cuts, retreats, conservative counter-attacks, could gain momentum. Some radicals even set out to defend what they had previously attacked as palliatives or illusory advances. American assessments of the anti-poverty action of the 1960s weighed gains and losses to produce a balance which offered little guidance as to future policy. In Britain the thrust of positive discrimination strategies had by the end of the 1970s been dissipated amidst resource cuts and ideological controversy. Some Marxist or radical theories denied the possibility of real change within capitalist structures – or gave the impression that such was the case. Karabel and Halsey point out that neo-Marxists in the 1970s were suggesting an almost 'perfect fit' between schooling and other social institutions:

There is a tidiness about the family-school-work triumverate that in the neo-Marxist view serves to transmit inequality from generation to generation, but the process seems to work so smoothly and is based upon such an imposing system of domination that one must wonder how it is that educational change ever takes place.1