Sociology of Education
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When considering the sociology of education, one is often focusing on the impact that social institutions and individual actions impact the learning process and educational outcomes. The sociology of education emphasizes the impact that the public school system has on society, and what impact society, in turn, has on the public school system. Further, the sociology of education examines these components within the context of elementary, secondary, higher, adult, and continuing education. The various elements of the study of sociology are easily applied to the educational environment; understanding how these elements impact the learning process is the cornerstone of this field of study.
One specific element of the sociology of education deals with differences between learners and how this is manifested in the educational environment, including race/ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic characteristics, and age. Determining how these differences are represented in the educational environment and how they alter the learning process is essential. Another element of the sociology of education tries to identify if the educational system promotes social equality, and how this is carried out. Often this is done through a close analysis of the hidden components of the classroom experience, including nonverbal communication, subtle gender differences, and the use of language. The sociology of education is a complex topic, and provides a close analysis of how the various social institutions and interactions are manifested in the classroom, and what this means for both the learning process and students’ outcomes.