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Issues Gordon Raises In Relation Paul Willis Study Sociology Essay

During 1960s and 1970, it was the era when sociologists were examining that the degrees of working class was not according to their expectations even having access to discriminating schools and institutions as compared to the middle classes. In spite of the fact that most working class children were likely to be doing working class jobs instead of being failed. It was the issue which was explored, studied and solved by Paul Willis(1977). When in fact the previous theories and clarifications of working class failure in the educational system were basically aimed to provide the very mechanistic approached which were based on the logic of a specific theoretical approach. Therefore, Willis analyzed the experiences of working class lads in a group to explore the actual problem and issues with them, through a qualitative approach to gain awareness.

It is obvious that questionnaires cannot provide such a clear and actual picture of social life as provided by ethnography. In the renowned work of Learning to Labor: How Working Class Kids Get Working Class Jobs, Willis is basically a team member and also observer of 12 boys in a West Midlands school in the 1970s. In this essay, there will be an analysis of the issues raised regarding to Willis’s study by Gordon (1994) and an evaluation of the level of her explanation of these issues. It was analyzed by Gordon that learning to labor presents a revolutionary thought from typical mechanistic theories of social reproduction. She has further appreciated the new route of cultural processes within school. In her analysis Gordon has focused on the particular theme of Paul Willis that is unsolved theme of learning labor and presents the development thought of Paul Willis. She has emphasized on those works of Willis which have been underemphasized in the past but Willis tried to use a methodological and analytical approach for cultural studies within education and theoretical relationship between culture and ideology which are specifically active, transformative nature of cultural production within educational sites.

The study of Willis is apparently influential for Gordon as she claims that the work of Willis is a new model for cultural study within education site. According to her, the work of Willis reflects the Marxism within education the way it has helped to overcome a tendency to give oversimplified accounts of the role of education in society. Gordon (1984) argues that Willis has shown the way cultural choices formed with a specific direction in mind and can persuade unintended effects in an altogether different direction. She has stressed that most counter-culture activities are likely to be reproductive rather than transformative. (Gordon, 1984)

Basically, Learning to Labor is classified into two distinctive classes; one is ethnographical section and other is theoretical section. Hence, it faces unfavorable judgment for both of its methodologies. In result of which he provided more refined prospects of his work, and he continuously elevated some questions which are critical for sociologists of education. (Gordon, 1984)

However, ethnographic studies deform the anthropological customs, which enabled researchers to enter the social or cultural group for any period of time to observe the native origins of the traditions. Main and most vital reason for the continuous usage of the ethnographic methods within the sociology of education, was that it failed to explain the expansion of existing cultural classes (Anyon, 1981). Moreover, Willis’ ethnography is generally a very critical and sensitive chronicles of a counter-school culture and the relationship of this culture – the school and the shop floor. It made sorely clear that the fellows assume themselves as they are having a power and control over their existence. Problematically, this is the assumption which lies at the very core heart of Learning to Labor, which is the execution of the resistance to conformity which ultimately sentences the fellows to the shop-floor existence. (Gordon, 1984)

Life on the shop-floor is the festivity of their freedom from the pressures of the society. Willis’ then affirms the education system as the platform of transmission of inequality among different various classes. This method by Willis’ brought the new dimensions to our understanding of cultural production. He faces many criticisms in regard to his theories and methodologies, but, he explicitly sets out to challenge the mechanistic theories of such traditions which lead towards the structural view. (Gordon, 1984)

There are such beliefs, customs and practices which can never be dissociate from their base, because they not only emerged by accidents but also by such explorations or events of specific conditions. The Learning to Labor fulfills and consists of all these attempts and on the terms that it could be explored. This observation is powerful but is unable to explain the mechanics of cultural production. In order to overcome this issue, Willis overlooks at the relationship between cultural and social production within its structure. (Gordon, 1984)

Willis makes a crystal clear meaning of culture and cultural forms by analyzing the critical aspects which he developed in the Learning to Labor. He denotes the concept of Learning to Labor to the role of ideology, but he failed to relate his concept to the wider framework of sociology. His work shows that such categorization fails to explain the cultural norms. (Gordon, 1984)

The most important and vital points which Willis make in this regard were:

Ideas are born within cultural aspects and framework. It was made clear that ideological and non-ideological ideas are integral to the cultural systems.

Ideologies produced within non-leading cultural groups are raised upwards to institutional setups. (Gordon, 1984)

Revaluation of Learning to Labor is emerged from the several resources in order to comprehend the several views of the study. In Willis’ views the fellows refers to both sample and population. He offers the set of inflect tools and research methodologies which can be utilize to find out and understanding forms of cultural resistance. It was another criticism which is often applied to the understandable theoretical analysis. Willis explained the precise relationship between cultural production, cultural reproduction and social reproduction. (Gordon, 1984)

Willis uses the concept of cultural production mediates in a creative manner that processes of social and cultural reproduction within the leading ways of production. Willis intention is to free Labor to Learning from the framework which has been largely collapsed. Moreover, Learning to Labor is reproductive rather than transformative. However, it seems confliction about the culture as production or transformation. He makes a clear vision that there is no distinction between agency and structure. (Gordon, 1984)

The cultural production can never be the process of assigning the new dimensions to the norms of culture being as events which are often uncontrollable prospects of social life. He also suggested some new concepts which might explain some processes of cultural expansion and their relationship to social production. (Gordon, 1984)

Without any doubt, the concept of Willis’ approach has a fundamental approach on Marxist analyses within the sociology of education (Apple, 1980-81). Within educational research, the schooling processes and subjects of schooling are no longer a black box. The basic and main approach of Willis’ work is to provide an overview of analytical and methodological views to cultural production within school systems. Most of the issues such as ideology, structure etc. are still in continue to be debated within the sociology of education. Moreover, the work of Willis’ has brought the foreground and tendency for the simplification of concept of schooling along with the wide and broad ranging of theoretical approach. (Gordon, 1984)


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