GCSE and A Level Sociology: Key concepts in education 2: Key concepts in Sociology

GCSE and A Level Sociology: Key concepts in education 2: Key concepts in Sociology

The second blog in our GCSE and A Level series on education in Sociology looks at some key concepts.

Key Concepts in Sociology

Before we go further into considering education, let’s look at some of the key concepts –

Official Curriculum

This is the formal teaching of an educational establishment, where students learn their lessons in Maths, History and so on.

Hidden Curriculum

As we said above, educational institutions have a formal curriculum, where they look at academic knowledge, such as learning GCSE sociology! But within schools, colleges and other educational institutions, there is a hidden curriculum. It is thought that the hidden curriculum promotes social control in education and then in society as a whole. The hidden curriculum is when pupils and students are taught to:

  • obey authority;
  • conform;
  • learn to regard social inequalities as natural;
  • ensure cultural reproduction.

So what does this mean? It means that students learn important social skills such as:

  • punctuality,
  • discipline,
  • obedience,
  • diligence,

all of which are important skills for the workforce in a capitalist society.


Capitalism is an economic system. Private owners invest money, or capital, into businesses to make a profit. So when we mentioned above that these skills were important for the workforce in a capitalist society, this means the people who work for these businesses.


A meritocracy is a system where a person’s social position is achieved by their talents and abilities, rather than their social origins and background. So Prince Charles will presumably become King one day because he was born the son of Queen Elizabeth II. This is an example of an aristocracy. If the new King was chosen because he had skills that showed he would be good at being king, then this would be an example of a meritocracy.

Tracey Jones


If your interested in studying  GCSE or A Level Sociology visit the Oxford Open Learning home page or contact a Student Adviser.

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