Way back in 1977, Paul Willis released some pretty groundbreaking research on schools that went on to contradict many structuralist accounts (both functionalist praise and Marxist criticism) about how schools create a docile and obedient workforce.

Just so you know, Willis’ study focused on anti-school subcultures, and his empirical primary research took a mixture of an Interactionalist and Marxist approach to the issue at hand. His research consisted of individual interviews with a group of working-class boys in Wolverhampton who disliked (read: hated) school, paid little to no attention in class and wanted to leave the system as soon as they were able.

Willis’ research found that schools not only fail to produce a multitude of similarly willing citizens who passively accept their fate, but also that individual angry pupils who rail against the system in different ways tend to end up in working class jobs because of their disobedience – rather than conformity – within the system.

In other (depressing) words, following the path of the mainstream is the only route into middle class jobs in society as we know it. If you want to get real ~sociological~ about Willis’ research, you should know that the name given to students’ viewpoints which challenge the dominant education system is “anti-school subcultures”.