There is a number of sociological imaginations, or theoretical perspectives, from which social issues, phenomena, and organisations such as schools may be explained or understood. Education is important in society and the structure and processes of education systems are related to the general process of socialisation (Van Krieken et al. 2000, p.191). Many sociologists may agree with this statement and different sociological theories have many different views about the role of education in society; however, this paper will be confined to application of the feminist perspective and also the conflict perspective on education, as discussed in the following paragraph.
According to Stephens et al. (1998, p. 205), "The argument that education in capitalist society is a tool of ruling-class ideology underpins Marxist theory." It is this imbalance of power and the resulting social inequalities that conflict theorists on education examine, according to Jennings and Hartman (2003, p. 58). Moreover, Stephens et al. (1998, p. 205) note that marxists assert that education is used to distinguish between middle and upper class workforce entrants from those of the working class. Those middle and upper class workforce entrants that are educated in knowledge and culture are directed towards the higher status professions and positions, while the working class entrants that have gained knowledge suitable only to manual and routine non-manual work are primed for the lower status positions that underpin the capitalist labour force (Stephens et al. 1998, p. 205). Conflict theorists contend that the above method of stratifying the workforce is implicitly linked to the marxist theories of social and cultural reproduction. These theories, according to Stephens at al. (1998, p. 205) suggest that over generations, the social and cultural rankings of different classes are reproduced. .
Bowles and Gintis (1976, p. 266) refer to the social reproduction theory as a "Correspondence Principle" between schooling and career.