chapter  29
19 Pages

A long shadow and undiscovered country

Notes on the class analysis of education
ByMasato Aoki

Amid the resurgent emphasis on students' non-cognitive skills as predictors of educational and labor market outcomes, "grit" has emerged as a focal point of education research and policy discussion. Whereas liberals regard the three functions as mutually compatible, Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis argue that the educational system's structural relationship to the capitalist class structure determines the dominance of the integrative over the developmental and egalitarian functions. The hegemony of the meritocratic ideology is crucial in US capitalism because a broad faith in meritocracy is a fundamental and overarching motivator for students to internalize the hierarchical rules and the extrinsic reward system of the school and capitalist economy. The fascination with education's role in reproducing exploited laborers emerges directly from Marx's conceptual presentation of surplus value. But this fascination should not limit imagination. The overdeterminist class theory of education seeks to illuminate cultural and political constituents of exploitation as much as economic ones.