The sociology of morality and education : a theoretical critique applied to an empirical study of moral judgement making in a girls' comprehensive school
The study examines the reasons for Sociology's lack of contribution towards the theory and practice of moral education aid sets out to suggest am approach to the sociology of morality which would be relevant to educational research. Pars: I discusses the sociology of morality's theoretical heritage, the American pragmatic tradition, and the ethical foundations of the sociological traditions derived from Marx, Durkheim and Weber. The inadequacies of the founding fathers' conceptualisation of morality and the effect of this theory on sociological practice is discussed with reference to studies in deviance and education. The critical theory of alrgen Habermas is reviewed and it is suggested that his work could provide a basis for a sociological study of morality in which theory relates to practice and where morality is seem both socially and universalistically. Part II describes an attempt to put Habermas' moral theory into practice in an empirical study of moral judgement in a girls' comprehensive school. A theoretical scheme for conceptualising and analysing procedures of moral judgement is presented. The scheme incorporates conceptualisations of Habermas and Schutz and allows moral judgement to be approached as a procedure involving the ideal and the real and relating beliefs and practices. The basis of the scheme is the assessment of the style of the judgemental procedures according to Habermas' distinction between work and interaction. This approach is contrasted with the essentially Kantian scheme of Lawrence Kohlberg. A study is conducted in the sixth form of Greenbank School w'ien the scheme is applied. An intensive phase investigates the relatioiships of home and school to the function of moral consciousness. It allows certain observations about the function of comprehensive education to be made. The study illustrates the potential of Habermasian theory for a sociology of morality and helps to pinpoint weaknesses in his formulations. It serves as a practical critique of Kantian based approaches to morality.