Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3:00-4:20pm
Armitage Hall, Room 207

Syllabus website: http://caticoe.rutgers.edu/courses/sociology-of-education/
Assignments: http://caticoe.rutgers.edu/courses/sociology-of-education/sociology-of-education-assignments/

Professor Cati Coe

405-407 Cooper Street, Room 203
Office hours: Tuesdays, 12:30-2:30pm, or by appointment
phone: (856) 225-6455
email: ccoe@camden.rutgers.edu

Course Description

Although most people in the US think of schools when they hear the word “education,” education is much broader, encompassing all the ways that young people are socialized into their communities, including through peers, family members, and the media. Education, in its broadest definition, is the way that one generation’s social structure and way of being in the world—including all its knowledge and behaviors—are transmitted to the next generation, but not without change and conflict. Schooling is a particular institutional form for educating young people. In this course, we will examine the social aspects of education and schooling: the interaction between home, society, and educational institutions; the ways that social inequalities are reproduced through schools; and the ways that identities are formed through education.  Schools both exist within a larger society and are their own social world, with the formation of peer groups, particular institutional arrangements, and ways of transmitting relationships and knowledge.  We will pay particular attention to the way that small interactions within educational settings have much larger implications within society.


By the end of this course, you will be expected to be able to:

  • assess the relationship between schooling and social inequality, including some of the ways that schools contribute to social inequality;
  • understand that learning, thinking, and growing are social and cultural processes which occur in sociocultural contexts and that schools are a particular kind of social context;
  • describe the process by which schools came to dominate education, and the effects of institutionalizing educational efforts;
  • understand the changing relation between education and employment;
  • explain how schools affect social identities and relationships;
  • write an argument-driven paper based on original data; and
  • summarize and critique the arguments presented in the readings in this course.
Required Texts

Three books are at the campus bookstore and on reserve at the circulation desk at Robeson library:

Cultural Nature of Human Development

The Cultural Nature of Human Development by Barbara Rogoff

degreeswithoutfreedomDegrees Without Freedom?
by Craig Jeffrey, Patricia
Jeffrey, and Roger Jeffrey



by Shamus Rahman Khan

The remainder of the readings can be found online via the library’s reserve readings or are links off this webpage (in brown or green, rather than black). The readings are due in the class in which they will be discussed, following the course schedule below.

Course Schedule

January 17: What is Education and Society?
Discussion of the relationship of “education” and “society.” Course overview and requirements.
Class resources: Discuss!

To do by the end of January 17th at the latest:

  • Get a NetID if you don’t already so that you can access library resources online and from home: http://oit.rutgers.edu/services/account/quick.html
  • Update your email address if necessary at http://search.rutgers.edu/changes.html. This is important for receiving course emails. Be sure to keep your registered email address current in order to receive important course information.
  • Get a Student Photo ID (available from the Impact Booth in the Campus Center) if you don’t already have one.
  • Get the books through the bookstore or other means. The books are available through the reserve desk at Robeson Library. You will need The Cultural Nature of Human Development immediately.
  • Print out all the readings on reserve so that you have them for the whole semester.
  • Review Rutgers’s policy on academic integrity.
Part I: How are Children Socialized in their Communities and How is this Different from Socialization in Schools?

January 19 Socialization through Social Contexts
Rogoff, Barbara. (2003). The Cultural Nature of Human Development. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Chapters 1 & 2, pp. 1-63
: Rogoff’s definition

January 24
Rogoff, The Cultural Nature of Human Development, Chapters 3 & 4, pp. 64-149
First paper assignment given

January 26
Rogoff, The Cultural Nature of Human Development, Chapter 5, pp. 150-193
Video: “Bathing Babies in Three Cultures” by Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson (1952)
Class Resources: PNG and Bali map

January 31
Rogoff, The Cultural Nature of Human Development, Chapters 6 & 7, pp. 194-281

February 2
Rose, Mike (2001). The Working Life of a Waitress. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 8, 3-27 [on reserve] Lecture: Cognition

February 7
McDermott, Ray and Varenne, Herve (1999). Adam, Adam, Adam, and Adam: The Cultural Construction of a Learning Disability. In H. Varenne and R. McDermott (Eds). Successful Failure: The School America Builds (pp. 25-44). Boulder: Westview Press. [on reserve] Lecture: Cognition and the 4 Adams

February 14
Rogoff, The Cultural Nature of Human Development, Chapters 8 & 9, pp. 282-369.
Lecture: The Historical Development of Mass Schooling

Part II: The Expansion of Schooling. And its Decline?

February 16
Perkinson, Henry J. (1995). The Imperfect Panacea: American Faith in Education. Boston: McGraw-Hill. Chapter 2: “The Evolution of the American Public School,” pp. 10-32

February 21 Degrees Without Freedom
Jeffrey, Craig, Patricia Jeffrey, and Roger Jeffrey (2008) Degrees Without Freedom: Education, Masculinities, and Unemployment in North India. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Introduction, pp. 1-34
Lecture: Theories

February 23
Jeffreys, Degrees Without Freedom, Chapters 2-3, pp. 35-77
Due: First paper
Second paper assignment given

February 28
Jeffreys, Degrees Without Freedom, Chapter 4-5, pp. 78-138

March 2 
Jeffreys, Degrees without Freedom, Chapter 6, pp. 139-167

March 7
Jeffreys, Degrees without Freedom, Chapters 7-8, pp.168-210

March 9 Capitalism’s Stake in Education
Sassen, Saskia (2014). Introduction: The Savage Sorting. Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy (pp. 1-11). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Spring Break

Part III: Social Inequality and Educational Opportunity in America?

March 21 Schools as a Sorting Mechanism
Brint, Steven (1998). Schools and Social Selection: Opportunity. Schools and Societies (p. 171-203). Thousand Oaks: Pine Forge Press. [on reserve] Class Resources: Gilbert-Kahl Class Structure, Schools & Social Inequality

March 23 The Role of College in Reproducing Social Inequality
Leonhardt, David (2005). The College Dropout Boom. In Correspondents of The New York Times (Ed.), Class Matters (pp. 87-104). New York: Henry Holt & Company. [on reserve] Class Resources: Three Explanations for Social Reproduction
Due: Second paper
Third paper assignment given

March 28 School Segregation by Race and Class
Link to: Orfield, Gary, E. Frankenberg, J. Ee, and J. Kuscera (2014). Brown at 60: Great Progress, a Long Retreat, and an Uncertain Future. The Civil Rights Project, UCLA.
: Segregation

March 30 School Funding and Social Inequality
1) Link to: The Education Trust (2015). Funding Gaps 2015. Washington DC: The Education Trust.
2) Kozol, Jonathan (2005). Hitting Them Hardest When They’re Small. The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America (pp. 39-49). New York: Crown Publishers. [on reserve]
School Funding

April 4 Sorting by Instruction?
Wilcox, Kathleen (1982). Differential Socialization in the Classrooms: Implications for Equal Opportunity. In G. Spindler (Ed.), Doing the Ethnography of Schooling (pp. 269-305). New York: Holt, Reinhart, and Winston. [on reserve]
Lecture: Theories of Social Reproduction

April 6 Sorting by Instruction?
1) Gamoran, Adam (1992). Is Ability Grouping Equitable? Educational Leadership 50:2, 11-17. [on reserve]
2) O’Neil, John (1992). On Tracking and Individual Differences: A Conversation with Jeannie Oakes. Educational Leadership 50:2, 18-22. [on reserve]

3) Lewis, Catherine C. (1996). Fostering Social and Intellectual Development: The Roots of Japan’s Educational Success. In T. P. Rohlen and G. K. LeTendre (Ed.), Teaching and Learning in Japan (pp. 79-97). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [on reserve]

April 11 Social Class and Cultural Capital
Lareau, Annette (1989). Home Advantage. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield. Chapters 6 and 7, pp. 97-148

April 13 What do Students Learn in Elite Schools?
Khan, Shamus Rahman (2011). Privilege: The Making of an Adolescent Elite at St. Paul’s School. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Introduction and Chapter 1, pp. 1-40
Class resources: On the first two chapters

April 18
Khan, Privilege, Chapters 2 & 3, pp. 41-113
Class resources: On Chapter 2

April 20
Khan, Privilege, Chapters 4, pp. 114-150
Class resources: On Chapters 3 & 4

April 25
Khan, Privilege, Chapter 5 and Conclusion, pp. 151-199
Class resources: On Chapter 5

April 27 Bringing it all together
Due: Third paper 

Tuesday, May 9th, 3-3:30pm
Final Exam