Education and religion are two important institutions of human society.
Sociologists and educators have debated the function of education and religion. Three main theories represent their views: the functionalist theory, the conflict theory, and the symbolic interactionism theory.
Conflict theorist argue that education and religion support the status quo and they considered that both institutions help maintain social inequalities. Conflict theorists examine how the educational system and the religious system “reproduce the social class structure.” By this, they mean that schools and religious institutions do not bring people together but they make people feel different.
According to conflict theorists, the “hidden curriculum helps perpetuate social inequalities.” The schools do not treat all students the same way. The less competent students do not get enough help and attention from teachers in order to succeed academically. The schools help the dominant class perpetuate their power in the society. According to Henslin (2009), mechanisms such as the “hidden curriculum and the unequal funding of schools perpetuates a society’s basic social inequalities.”
In the same manner, conflict theorists consider that religion help maintain inequalities and reinforces a “society’s stratification system.” According to Karl Marx, religion justifies social inequality. By this, Karl Marx means that religions offer the prospect of a better afterlife in order to keep people blind from their everyday suffering. Conflict theorists believe that religion and education support the status quo and they make individuals believe that they have to accept their conditions. The privileged class uses religion to keep people under their power. Religion does not help the individual to look for a better future or to challenge the upper class.
Therefore, according to conflict theorists, religion and education are powerful agents of socialization where the privileged class will always exert power over the less powerful.
Religion legitimates social inequalities by making people believe that the elites just happen to have more benefits because God wanted it that way.
In the same manner, teachers treat lower students differently from quick students. From the first day of class, teachers will form groups and they will automatically pay more attention to quick children than to slow children. So, conflict theorists think that schools do not indeed help to reduce inequalities.
According to Henslin (2009), the rich neighborhood can afford highly qualified teachers because they can give them a high salary. Therefore, the students who can afford to pay these expensive schools will have a better education than the students who attend a school in a poor community. In addition, conflict theorists remarked that the “educational system reproduces not only the U.S. social class structure but also its racial-ethnic divisions” (Henslin, 2009).
What do you think?