The Sociology of Education

Essay by supersaadi January 2011

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The sociology of education is a core field within the discipline of sociology; however, it is also considered a part of the discipline of education. This dual existence is one of the unusual characteristics of the sociology of education, and some say that one source of tension is the difference between those who see the sociology of education as a pure science and those who see it as an applied field of study.

Within sociology, the sociology of education overlaps with many other subfields, such as social stratification, race and ethnicity, and religion. Because of the broad range of topics within the sociology of education, there is hardly a subfield in sociology in which it does not have something to contribute.

This pervasiveness of the sociology of education is reflected in the popularity and general state of the discipline. In the International Sociological Association, the Research Committee on the Sociology of Education is one of the largest in terms of membership.

Similarly, in the American Sociological Association, the section on the sociology of education is one of the largest. This pattern is reflected in other national sociological associations such as Australia's. The sociology of education is also represented in various professional education associations, including the American Educational Research Association, where it is visible as a special interest group. It is common for the subject to be taught in one or both academic departments in universities.

The sociology of education is a rapidly growing discipline in many countries. Reviews of the subdiscipline in the English-speaking world have been reported for the United States, Britain, South Africa, and Australia, and in other countries such as Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, and India. The sociology of education is a growing and relevant subdiscipline in sociology in many countries, even where it was once...