Functionalism and Education

Brief Summary of the Funtionalist attitudes towards Education 

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  • Functionalim & Education
    • Durkheim
      • Education system creates social solidarity by transmitting society's culture - shared beliefs and values.
        • For Example teaching the country's history instils in children a sense of shared heritage and commitment to wider social group
      • School also acts as a "society in miniature" preparing us for life in the wider society, when we need to cooperate with people.
      • Specialist Skills
        • Modern industries have complex division of labour where cooperation of many different specialists are needed. This cooperation promoted social solidarity
          • Durkheim argues that education teaches individuals the specialist knowledge and skills that they need to play a part in the social division of labour.
    • Parsons
      • School is the "focal socialising agency" acting as a bridge in between family and wider society
      • Within family, a child is judged by particularistic standards (ascribed status) (rules that only apply to the child).
        • Both in school and wider society, a persons staus is largely achieved and not ascribed sacked
        • Whereas, school and wider souniversalistic ciety judge us all by stanadrds, in society the same law applys to everyone.
          • Both in school and wider society, a persons staus is largely achieved and not ascribed sacked
      • Sees school as preparing us from the family to wider society because school and society are based on meritocratic principles.
    • Davis and Moore
      • Schools also perform the function of selecting and allocating pupils to their suture roles, by assessing their abilities.
      • Argue inequality is necessary to ensure the most important roles are filled by the most talented.
        • This encourages everyone to compete for them and society then can select the most talented people for these positions
          • Education plays a key part in this process since it acts as the proving ground. People are "sifted and sorted" according to ability.
    • Blau and Duncan
      • Modern economy depends on prosperity on using its "human capital" (the workers skill)
        • They argue the meritcratic education system does this best, since it allows poeple to be allocated to their suitable job role
          • This will make most effective use of their talent and maximise their productivity.
    • Evaluation of the Functionalist Perspective
      • Marxists argue that education in capitalist society only transmits the ideology of a minority - the ruling class
      • Wrong argues  * "over socialised" view of people as mere puppets of society.  Pupils do not passively accept  all that they are taught and never reject school values.
      • Neoliberals and New Right argue that state education system fails to prepare young people adequately for work.


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