Conflict theory posits that conflict is a fundamental part of the social order, and that schools are a critical site in the reproduction of social inequality, particularly class conflict and racial stratification. Schools are not meritocratic; individual talent and hard work do not necessarily guarantee success. Larger social forces produce unequal outcomes that favor the powerful and inequality within and among schools helps maintain reproduction of the status quo. Conflict theorists see education as maintaining existing power structures while creating a docile workforce or underclass. Karl Marx, Max Weber, and Émile Durkheim address the relationship of education and social conflict, albeit in different ways. Conflict theory in education remains a robust area of inquiry. Key contemporary works were authored in the late 1970s and early ...

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