Deconstructing Four Sociological Perspectives on Education: A Reinterpretation of Pupil Achievement


Economic and social development has been one of the major concerns for modernization and progress. Human development includes three factors: life expectancy, GDP and knowledge (education). Education is an important condition for human development. In the 1960s, human capital theorists reported that small developing nations in the Caribbean spent as much as 60 percent of GDP on education in an attempt to produce a highly trained and skilled labor force. The main objective of this paper is to deconstruct four main perspectives on education: functionalist, Marxist, interactionist and feminist for the purpose of gaining clearer insight into the nature of pupil achievement. Early sociological works were deconstructed by coding key concepts and statements within these four perspectives. Their language was deconstructed/analyzed/decoded by identifying descriptors of achievement such as meritocratic, class inequality, ethnic advantage, gender bias, innate ability, hidden curriculum and equality of opportunity/treatment. Descriptors were compared to form significant categories which were then categorized into three statements: the nature of pupil achievement (pupil achievement as product and pupil achievement as process), factors associated with pupil achievement, and the consequences of pupil achievement. The overall findings are 1) pupil achievement is both process and product of education; 2) the effects of home, school and social environmental factors is complex; and 3) pupil achievement is significant to a country’s economic and social development. Because these statements are complex and interrelated, a multi-agency approach to education is advocated. It can be stated as “the square of pupil/academic achievement”. It comprises “personal/individual” (intelligence), “home”, “school” and “social environmental” factors.

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Berkeley, B. (2015) Deconstructing Four Sociological Perspectives on Education: A Reinterpretation of Pupil Achievement. Open Access Library Journal, 2, 1-13. doi: 10.4236/oalib.1101746.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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