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Schooling in Capitalist America: Educational Reform and the Contradictions of Economic Life [Paperback]

by Samuel Bowles, Herbert Gintis
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (April 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465097189
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465097180
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #227,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
As best I can determine, Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis have gone mainstream. Their Marxist critique of schooling and its connections with American society has given way to increasingly technical evaluations of commonplace topics such as the degree to which meritocracy is approximated in the U.S. and calls for gradual social reform. Inherently equivocal concepts such as market socialism appeal to them today, but it would have been difficult to find a conceptual location for this odd idea in their path-breaking 1976 book Schooling in Capitalist America.

Relying heavily on historical information, much of it provided by Michael Katz's 1968 book The Irony of Early School Reform, Bowles and Gintis presented a powerful argument on behalf of the notion that schooling was not an effective agency of progressive social reform. Instead, they made clear that education was a secondary institution, the nature of which was determined by more powerful social agencies, especially the economy. Bowles and Ginitis' position is sometimes rendered as follows: whatever educators' intentions, schooling reproduces and legitimates an inequitable social class structure from one generation to another.

In addition to historical material, Bowles and Gintis used census data, imputed values for the variable IQ (Bowles and Nelson, 1974), and multiple regression analysis to make unmistakably clear that family background factors -- the class or status group into which one was born -- had a great deal more to do with subsequent attainments than measured ability. Their easy-to-understand graphs illustrating the case that the U.S.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Bowles and Gintis argue that schooling is designed to prepare students for to be dominated by the system of industrial capitalism. The authors argue that schooling has more to do with disciplining the workforce than it does with anything like critical thinking or creativity. This is a landmark book that has had a wide influence on the field of education. Its findings are still quite relevant today.

Unfortunately, Bowles and Gintis have moved on to another set of projects, but both thinkers deserve to be thought of as innovators in the fields of education and political economy.
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