Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


In recent years, Marxist theories have challenged the traditional, meritocratic perspective dominant in the sociology of education. The meritocracy assumes that schools, like the larger society, are based on the premise of equal opportunity; success in school is the result of hard work and good grades, which lead to good jobs and good incomes. Bowles and Gintis, among other revisionists, disagree arguing that the structure of education, sorting students into segregated, hierarchical curriculum tracks, mirrors the structure of the capitalist workplace and reproduces the existing class system such that the most advantaged persons and groups continue to fare well while the disadvantaged continue to fare poorly. This research tests some of the propositions of the Marxist-oriented correspondence principle of Bowles and Gintis. Previous research shows that the vocational track stresses such behaviors as submission to authority and dependability and does little to prepare students for college--characteristics highly suitable for manual class occupations. The academic track prepares students for higher education and emphasizes independent and symbolic learning--skills required of mental class jobs. Studies also show that minorities and working class students are over-represented in the vocational track whereas middle class students are over-represented in the academic track. Using a national sample of women seven years after high school, results of log-linear logit analysis indicate that tracking facilitates reproduction of a dichotomous categorization of class. For the manual class, reproduction is enhanced by student's participation in the vocational education track. In the mental class, however, reproduction is largely a consequence of being in the academic program. Other variables known to affect women's occupational position also vary by track. Women in the vocational track are more likely to have children, less likely to be single, have lower self-esteem, have traditional sex role attitudes, and less likely to achieve higher education than women from the academic track. Though social mobility occurs, hypotheses drawn from the correspondence principle were supported.