I saw, on the way home, a car with a bumper sticker saying “No Vouchers”. While I agree with the sentiment, that’s for another discussion. It made me think about the issue of school vouchers  (money made available by the state for parents to partially fund their children’s attendance at private schools in lieu of public ones) and how it fits in to the theory we’ve talked about.

Conflict or social order? A social order perspective would seem to suggest that everyone should be socialized the same way. Looking at it through the lens of Durkheim, social orderists would want to promote organismal unity by socializing everyone in a controlled, uniform way.

So by creating a system where the state is forced to subsidize educational socialization of people outside of the state-created educational system, are we setting up conflicting systems? Does that harm organismal unity and set up conflict between the public school network and the private school network? If so, then people in favor of school vouchers would seem to be against a monolithic structure of cultural reproduction via education, favoring instead a system of many different alternatives means of such education.

It seems, though, that a lot of the people who favor private schools for reasons of religion do not want a plurality of voices. Indeed, some have objected to the use of vouchers to fund student attendance at private schools that are based in a religion other than theirs. So do people who favor school vouchers in order to promote unified education with a grounding in religion consciously hold a social order view? And if so, are they unthinkingly feeding in to a conflict view by promoting both their favored form of education against that of the state, and by promoting various forms of educational cultural reproduction in forms they never considered when pushing for the voucher system?

Perhaps concluding one way or another without actually asking those involved would be in line with Durkheim and functionalism or positivism in disregarding people’s own understandings of their motives.


No Vouchers! Social Order vs Conflict in Education


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