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Marxist and Critical Approaches to Education

1. Classical Sociologies of Education

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In this module, we think about classical sociological approaches to education and its role in society. In particular, we focus on: (i) Karl Marx’s base and superstructure model and the role of education in upholding the ideology of the ruling class; (ii) Max Weber’s writing on education as the means by which societies become rational and modern; (iii) Émile Durkheim and Talcott Parsons’ functional understandings of education, particularly Parsons’ ideas of socialisation and selection.


In this course, Dr Eric Lybeck (University of Manchester) explores Marxist and critical approaches to education. In the first module, we consider some classical theories of education and its role in society, such as those of Karl Marx, Max Weber and Talcott Parsons. In the second module, we look at Marxist analyses of education from the 1960s, including the work of Louis Althusser and Bowles and Gintis. In the third and fourth modules, we think about the ideas of Pierre Bourdieu and how they have been taken on in both qualitative and quantitative critical education research. In the final module, we look at some recent developments in the field, such as critical pedagogy and analyses linked to globalisation.


Dr Eric Lybeck is Presidential Fellow at the Manchester Institute of Education, University of Manchester. His recent research focuses on the sociology of education, especially the university sector. He is author of The University Revolution: Outline of a Processual Theory of Modern Higher Education (2021) and Norbert Elias and the Sociology of Education (2019), and co-editor of Reconstructing Social Theory, History and Practice (2017).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Lybeck, E. (2021, August 23). Marxist and Critical Approaches to Education - Classical Sociologies of Education [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Lybeck, Eric. "Marxist and Critical Approaches to Education – Classical Sociologies of Education." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 23 Aug 2021,

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