The Crisis of the Sociology of Education and Its Reflections in Turkey: On the Critique of Functionalist and Eclecticist Pragmatic Tradition

Inonu University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Department of Sociology


Basis of the study: The claims that the sociology of education has been in a crisis seem to be dependent upon the insufficiencies in doing science and acquiring results with the ontological and epistemological foundations of sociology as a discipline of science. The sociology of education has taken shape from the outset in the framework of American sociological tradition, and therefore has been the conveyor model of impasses arising from the limitedness of functionalist sociological agreement and pragmatic science tradition. The structure of a science practice of this sort favoring status quo, not only has narrowed its boundaries but it also has brought about the fact that the sociology of education has been unsuccessful in its defined targets such as the relationship between reality and education and unification of the issue of education with factual developments.

Purpose of the study: In this study, the kinds of directions taken in the field of the sociology of education is critically evaluated together with an assessment of issues in the field: the theoretical and methodological grounds of the practice of the sociology of education in Turkey; and the kinds of problems that the field is facing in the present situation.

Sources of Evidence: What is primary here is to characterize the theoretical and methodological insufficiencies in the background of claims of crisis. The epistemological and ontological discussions, which are descriptive of the insufficiencies in question, are evaluated with reference to the main texts, and the validity of claims of crisis in sociology of education is questioned with reference to the science practices that have dominated the discipline’s course of development. Convictions in the West with regard to the idea that the sociology of education is in a crisis are exemplified in terms of their negative reflections in the discipline, and the actual debates in sociology of education are examined in comparison with the case in Turkey with reference to main sources in the literature.

Main Discussion and the Consequences: Discussions in sociology of education and the claims that the discipline is in a crisis are a reflection of the discussions that are searching epistemological and ontological foundations. However, sociology of education in Turkey has been to a large extent deprived of the foundation searching discourses that might constitute its internal dynamics. In the field of sociology of education in Turkey, theoretical correlations and scientific practices have not been the object of an attempted complete evaluation. Hence, the theoretical and methodological foundations upon which the discipline is based have turned out to be weak and superficial; conceptualizations have been depthless, and almost no methodological discussions have become a current issue in any way. Negativities such as these leading it to a crisis have cast doubt on the perfection of the field of sociology of education. Sociology of education is required. The condition of overcoming the crises that sociology of education experiences is subordinated to having a powerful scientific tradition, which takes new political processes and economic developments into account.

Key Words: Sociology of education, crisis, functionalist consensus, eclecticist tradition.