Any individual can learn very little by himself. Others play a very important role and contribute a lot to his learning process. The presence of other persons is important because a person learns from the knowledge gained by others. Therefore the process of getting education is always a social process.

The word Sociology is derived from the combination of the Latin socius - meaning ‘companion’ and the Greek logos - meaning ‘the study of’. So the word literally means the study of companionship, or social relations. It is the science or study of the origin, development, organization, and functioning of human society. It is the science of fundamental laws of social behavior, relations, institutions, etc.

The word Education comes from the Latin e-ducere meaning “to lead out.” Webster defines education as the process of educating or teaching.  Educate is further defined as “to develop the knowledge, skill, or character of...” Thus, from these definitions, one can assume that the purpose of education is to develop the knowledge, skill, or character of students.

“The aim of education should be to teach us rather how to think, than what to think - rather to improve our minds, so as to enable us to think for ourselves, than to load the memory with the thoughts of other men.” Bill Beattie.

Sociology of Education, B.ED, M.ED, NET Notes ( Study Material), CTET FREE Notes, TET PDF Downloadable Notes Free Download.

Relationship between Education and Sociology

Emile Durkheim was the first person who indicated the need for a sociological approach to education. He considered education “to be essentially social in character and in its functions and that as a result the theory of education relates more clearly to sociology than any other science.” He emphasized that education is not a static phenomenon but a dynamic and ever-changing process.

Educational sociology is by definition a discipline which studies education sociologically, with the premise that it recognizes education as a social fact, a process and an institution, having a social function and being determined socially. Educational sociology could appear only when it accepted the social nature of education.


Sociology of Education may be defined as the scientific analysis of the social processes and social patterns involved in the educational system.

Brookover and Gottlieb consider that “this assumes education is a combination of social acts and that sociology is an analysis of human interaction.” Educational process goes on in a formal as well as in informal situations. Sociological analysis of the human interaction in education may include both situations and might lead to the development of scientific generalizations of human relations in the educational system.

The sociology of education is the study of how public institutions and individual experiences affect education and its outcomes. It is most concerned with the public schooling systems of modern industrial societies, including the expansion of higherfurtheradult, and continuing education. It is a philosophical as well as a sociological concept, denoting ideologies, curricula, and pedagogical techniques of the inculcation and management of knowledge and the social reproduction of personalities and cultures.

It is concerned with the relationships, activities and reactions of the teachers and students in the classroom. It emphasizes sociological problems in the realm of education


The scope of sociology of education is vast.

  • It is concerned with such general concepts such as society itself, culture, community, class, environment, socialization, internalization, accommodation, assimilation, cultural lag, sub-culture, status, role and so forth.
  • It is further involved in cases of education and social class, state, social force, cultural change, various problems of role structure, role analysis in relation to the total social system and the micro society of the school such as authority, selection, and the organization of learning, streaming, curriculum and so forth.
  • It deals with analysis of educational situations in various geographical and ethnological contexts. Eg. Educational situations in rural, urban and tribal areas, in different parts of the country/world, with the background of different races, cultures etc.
  • It helps us to understand the effectiveness of different educational methods in teaching students with different kinds of intelligences.
  • It studies the effect of economy upon the type of education provided to the students. Eg. education provided in IB, ICSE, SSC, Municipal schools
  • It helps us to understand the effect of various social agencies like family, school on the students.
  • It studies the relationship between social class, culture, language, parental education, occupation and the achievement of the students
  • It studies the role and structure of school, peer group on the personality of the students
  • It provides an understanding of the problems such as racism, communalism, gender discrimination etc.
  • It studies the role of schools in socialization of the students.
  • It suggests ways to develop national integration, international understanding, the spirit of scientific temper , globalization among the students
  • It promotes research studies related to planning, organization and application of various theories in education.

All these are the concerns of education and sociology as inseparable discipline focusing on the problems of the society.


Educational sociology is a branch of discipline of sociology which studies the problems of relationship between society and education.  It evolved as a discipline designed to prepare educators for their future tasks. It uses the results of sociological researches in planning educational activities and in developing effective methods of realizing these plans.

The main aim of educational sociology was to study social interactionFrancis Brown considered that, “All education proceeds by the participation of the individual in the social consciousness of the race”. He defined educational sociology as that discipline which applied the general principles and findings of sociology to the process of education.

Educational sociology is by definition a discipline which studies education sociologically, with the premise that it recognizes education as a social fact, a process and an institution, having a social function and being determined socially.

It is the application of sociological principles and methods to the solution of problems in an educational system.
Educational Sociology threw light on the importance of the interactions of different elements of the society with an individual. It emphasized the progress of the society through the medium of education. The problems of schooling and instructions were looked upon as problems of the society. The educational sociology tried to answer the questions -- as to what type of education should be given?   What should be the curriculum? Why children become delinquent? 

It threw light on those institutions and organizations and on those social interactions that were important in educational process. It used educational interactions that helped in the development of the personality of the individual so that he becomes a better social being.

It was realized that though educational sociology made everyone realize the social nature of education, formulated ideals by which educational planning was guided, used the theoretical knowledge gathered by researches conducted by either sociologists or educational sociologists, there appeared to be confusion as to what the proper dimensions of educational sociology should be. There were differences of opinion regarding what types of researches are to be classified under the head of educational sociology.

This led to the thinking that there should be a separate branch of knowledge which can be designated as sociology of education. Soon educational sociology became a historical phenomenon. In 1963, the Journal of Educational Sociology became the Journal of Sociology of Education.

Sociology of Education may be defined as the scientific analysis of the social processes and social patterns involved in the educational system.


Every society has its own changing socio – cultural needs and requires an education to meet these needs. Today’s needs are conservation of resources, environmental protection, global citizenship etc. Therefore education caters towards meeting of these different needs. Since the needs of the society change education also changes. Hence there is need for studying sociology of education. It helps in understanding:

  1. Work of School and Teachers and its relation to society, social progress and development
  2. Effect of Social Elements on the working of school and society
  3. Effect of Social Elements on the life of individuals
  4. Construction of Curriculum in relation to the cultural and economic needs of the society
  5. Democratic ideologies present in different countries
  6. Need for understanding and promoting international culture
  7. Development of Society through the formulation of various rules and regulations and understanding of culture and traditions
  8. Need for Promotion of Social Adjustment
  9. The effect of social groups, their interrelation and dynamics on individuals


Acquisition of knowledge and development of the personality of an individual is no longer presumed to be the main function of education. Functions are assumed to occur without directed effort. From the sociological point of view, education has the following functions:

  1. Assimilation and transmission of culture/traditions: This needs to be done consciously and selectively because traditions need to be selected for transmission as well as omission depending on their value and desirability in today’s democratic set-up. For example, one needs to propagate the idea of ‘Sarva Dharma Samabhav’ meaning ‘all Dharmas (truths) are equal to or harmonious with each other’. In recent times this statement has been taken as meaning "all religions are the same" - that all religions are merely different paths to God or the same spiritual goal. It emphasizes moral responsibilities in society that people should have towards each other. At the same time education should encourage people to do away with the custom of childmarriage, untouchability etc. Education should help in
    • Acquisition/clarification of personal values
    • Self-realization/self-reflection: awareness of one’s abilities and goals
    • Self-esteem/self-efficacy
    • Thinking creatively
    • Cultural appreciation: art, music, humanities
    • Developing a sense of well-being: mental and physical health
    • Acquisition/clarification of values related to the physical environment
    • Respect: giving and receiving recognition as human beings
    • Capacity/ability to live a fulfilling life

  1. Development of new social patterns: Today the world is changing very fast due to development of technology and communication. So along with preservation of traditional values, new values, social patterns need to be developed where
    • Citizens rooted in their own cultures and yet open to other cultures are produced.
    • Global outlook is fostered.
    • Knowledge is advanced in such a way that economic development goes hand in hand with responsible management of the physical and human environment.
    • Citizens who understand their social responsibilities are produced.
    • Citizens who can evaluate information and  predict future outcomes are developed – in short who can take part in decision-making
    • Who have the capacity/ability to seek out alternative solutions and evaluate them are trained – those who are trained in problem solving

  1. Activation of constructive and creative forces: Education should help to build up a qualified and creative workforce that can adapt to new technologies and take part in the ‘intelligence revolution’ that is the driving force of our economies. It should

  • Ensure capacity/ability to earn a living: career education
  • Develop mental and physical skills: motor, thinking, communication, social, aesthetic
  • Produce citizens who can adapt, adjust according to social environment,
  • Produce citizens who can contribute towards the progress of society,
  • Produce citizens who will live democratically,
  • Create individuals who will make proper use of leisure time,
  • Train individuals to adapt to change or prepare for change, better still initiate change in the society,
  • Develop individuals who are open to others and mutual understanding and the values of peace,
  • Promote knowledge of moral practices and ethical standards acceptable by society/culture
  • Develop capacity/ability to recognize and evaluate different points of view
  • Develop understanding of human relations and motivations

  • Singh, Y. M. (1992). Sociological Foundations of Education, Sheth Publishers, Bombay
  • Mathur S.S. A Sociological Approach to Indian Education             
  • Aggarwal J. C. Theory and Principles of Education             
  • Marker N. S. Educational Sociology                        

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